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Former Buena Councilman Steve Andrea in 1982

Onetime lottery lobbyist contributes to Testa

Trump helped kill Keno lottery in 1990s

By David Wildstein, July 07 2019 7:57 pm

Reports filed with the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission included a blast from the past among donors to Republican State Senate candidate Michael Testa, Jr.

Steven Dandrea, a central figure in the 1990s GTECH Corp. state lottery scandal, contributed $2,500 to Testa’s campaign to oust State Sen. Bob Andrzejczak (D-Middle) in the 1st district.  Dandrea was convicted of inflating his invoices and paying kickbacks to GTECH’s national sales manager.

GTECH operated state lotteries in 28 states, including New Jersey. The company stood to earn 5% of all sales in the new lottery operation.

The company paid Dandrea’s lobbying firm, Benchmark Group, $30,000-per-month to add Keno to the New Jersey lottery.  Dandrea’s business partner was the cousin of Gov. Jim Florio’s chief of staff.

GTECH paid Benchmark nearly $750,000, of which almost $170,000 was funneled back to the sales manager.  The company also paid $3,500-per-month to lobbyist Hazel Gluck, who had served as state lottery director under Gov. Tom Kean.  Gluck testified at the trial that companies doing business with the state pay for access as well as effort.

The state Lottery Commission approved the plan.  Florio wound up stopping Keno during his 1993 re-election campaign after facing protests from church groups, racetracks, and casino owner Donald Trump.

During his first run for Congress in 1994, Frank LoBiondo received a $1,500 contribution from Dandrea.  Follow Andrea’s indictment, LoBiondo returned the donation.

In 1998, a London jury found that the GTECH CEO tried to bribe Richard Branson to get him to drop his competing bid to run a British lottery.

Dandrea was elected to the Buena Borough Council in 1981, at age 24.  He served as an aide to State Sen. Bill Gormley (R-Margate) before his appointment to the Atlantic County Board of Elections.  He wound up being sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison.

This is Dandrea’s first political contribution since the GTECH scandal, according to ELEC and Federal Election Commission records available online.

Republicans are mounting an aggressive bid to take back the 1st district Senate seat they held for 34 years until 2007, when Jeff Van Drew (D-Dennis) unseated State Sen. Nicholas Asselta (R-Vineland).  Andrzejczak joined the Senate in January after Van Drew was elected to Congress.

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