New York State Assemblyman Bob Reilly has been a strong adversary to the legalization of mixed martial arts (MMA) in the state of New York.
For years, Reilly has been against the sport, saying the idea of legalizing MMA to help "The Empire State" financially is "a pretty horrific type of attitude and position to have." Reilly has also claimed to be opposed to MMA because of its "brutality," but there may be more to the story.
Hotel union "Unite Here" has engaged in an ongoing feud with the co-owners of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). Station Casinos, owned by the Fertitta brothers Lorenzo and Frank, has been targeted by the union because it wants the staff at the Las Vegas chain of casinos to unionize and has accused Station of using threats against their staff members as a preventative measure.
In a move seen by many MMA fans as sour grapes, Unite Here has refused to support the UFC's road to legalization in New York. In fact, they have continued to lobby against it.
So, what does this have to do with Assemblyman Reilly?
In 2006, Reilly had 211 identified contributions. The second largest personal contribution came from Unite Here. Yes, the same Unite Here that currently has nine affiliates/local unions in the state of New York.
Sound fishy to you?
In his hour-long interview with Larry Pepe of Pro MMA Radio, Reilly was asked about his relationship with Unite Here, and if it was really the deciding factor in lobbying against MMA.
See his response after the jump.
"I don't find the connection. I don't operate that way. I consider myself ethical. UFC has put up to Zuffa, according to the press conference I heard, $1,500,000. Zuffa just gave our new Governor (Andrew Cuomo) $75,000, so money is pouring in here from Zuffa, but I'm not accusing anybody of unethical behavior because of that."
Pepe explained to Reilly that Zuffa putting money in to get MMA legalized in New York makes sense and that there wasn't really anything that can be seen as unethical. The New York State Assemblyman responded.
"Unite Here is one of very many unions and if you go through the contributions that have been made to me, I would suppose aside from the Democratic Party which received much of their contributions from labor unions, you'll find many other unions contributing to me. I don't know the connection. Let's take your logic, ‘Bob Reilly isn't going to support the hotel workers in Las Vegas, but go against the hotel workers in New York.' In other words, you made the argument not me that the hotel workers in New York would support this because it would bring in more hotel things. So what would their purpose be? ‘Oh they're concerned about the people in Las Vegas?' I don't think so."
Pepe went on to explain to Reilly that it seems very political for a national hotel union that operates in New York as well as Las Vegas to lobby against the legalization of a sport that would bring in significant hotel revenue when the union is at odds with the organization (Zuffa) trying to get it done.
In other words, it's not about questioning the sport, it's about getting payback on the Fertitta brothers.
Reilly replied with a simple "Okay."
But is it okay with you?