Since its inception, the story of Retama Park has never been completely told. News articles that touch on the track usually lack needed context and key elements. This may be attributable in part to the complexity of the endeavor or the power of the individuals involved.

For example, as recently as June 2017, Retama fallout involving an SEC judgement against one of Retama’s key players continues to be reported without valuable context and a permanent link back to the originators of the debacle, the Straus family.

Retama and horse racing in Texas in general is a Straus family venture. Speaker Joe Straus III, whose business interests have included family trusts with ownership of Retama, has a stake in the potential of future expanded gambling.

Speaker Joe Straus III was the Marketing Director for Retama in the early years. As part of the management, Straus’ “low-key” approach to marketing was blamed in part for sending the racetrack into bankruptcy.

The Retama story is filled with a multitude of untrustworthy people, bad decisions, and dishonest ploys at taxpayers’ expense. Overall, it is difficult to find an aspect of Retama that is above board.

Speaker Straus benefits greatly from the lack of reporting of his direct connections to Retama. He also benefits from the confusing nature of Retama’s business organization and history. However, the corruption itself is not confusing. While a comprehensive understanding of Retama is possible, it is easy to get buried in the weeds of corruption when tracking the story from start to finish.

The dossier published today provides a full picture of the history of pari-mutuel gambling in Texas and its originator, the Straus family. It provides the background materials necessary to understand the key individuals and entities involved in fleecing taxpayers in order to enrich a small group of people.

 

Tony McDonald

Tony McDonald serves as General Counsel to Texas Scorecard. A licensed and practicing attorney, Tony specializes in the areas of civil litigation, legislative lawyering, and non-profit regulatory compliance. Tony resides in Austin with his wife and daughter and attends St. Paul Lutheran Church.

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