Despite Gov. Mike Pence's pledge to oppose expanding Indiana's gambling industry, gaming interests donated more than $2 million to groups supporting the current Republican vice presidential candidate in violation of state law — and he signed beneficial tax legislation months after he took office.
The contributions went to groups backing Pence since he first ran for governor in 2012 — and they came from lobbying firms and their employees who donated nearly a half-million dollars directly to Pence's campaign account, according to a report by The International Business Times and the Maplight Foundation.
Pence also declined to veto a bill that riverboat operators to move casinos on shore, according to the report.
"I do not support an expansion of gaming in Indiana," said in March 2013, two months after becoming governor.
However, records show Pence received about $2.2 million from Indiana gaming operators and their lobbying firms since 2011.
Pence announced his re-election bid last year. Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump selected him as his running mate in July.
According to the analysis, the $2.2 million includes nearly $490,000 from nine gaming-linked lobbying firms and their employees directly to Pence's campaign.
Other contributions include at least $360,000 more from industry lobbying firms and their employees to the Indiana Republican Party and $1.4 million from state gaming interests and their lobbying firms to the Republican Governors Association, which supported Pence's runs for the Statehouse.
The governor also served the association in a leadership role and raised money for the group.
Under Indiana law, making direct donations to state lawmakers by gaming operators and lottery firms is a felony offense.
In May 2013, two months after declaring he opposed expanding gaming in the state, Pence signed the tax-break legislation, according to the report.
He allowed the riverboat legislation to pass shortly before announcing his re-election bid last year.
Marc Lotter, Pence’s 2016 campaign spokesperson, defended the industry groups that contributed to Pence and the governors association.
The companies "have a long history, dating back a decade, of supporting the Republican Governors Association because they want to see the type of strong, pro-growth leadership that has led to Indiana becoming one of the best states in the nation for business continue and expand to other states," he told the IBTimes in a statement. "Gov. Pence is proud to support and have received support from the RGA."
Regarding the bills that took effect on the governor's watch, Lotter said "since taking office, Gov. Pence has held the position that gaming should not be expanded in Indiana and every executive action he has taken on legislation has been consistent with that principle."
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