Petersburg Senator Hits Back at Claims She Bullied City Staff to Pick Bally’s Casino

  • Despite choosing Cordish, Petersburg claims Aird pressured staff into considering Bally’s
  • Mayor Sam Parnham’s office halted the sending of a letter of intent email to Bally’s
  • Aird questioned if the Council’s actions were in the “best interest” of its constituents
Petersburg map
A Virginia Senator has refuted the Petersburg Mayor’s claim she bullied staff into opting for a Bally’s casino. [Image:]

Virginia Senator Lashrecse Aird has lashed back at criticism that she tried to bully staff into picking the vendor for the state’s fifth and final brick-and-mortar casino.

accused Aird of pressuring the city to choose Bally’s

While the Petersburg City Council appointed The Cordish Companies as its preferred casino vendor in late April, Petersburg Mayor Sam Parham’s administration has since accused Aird of pressuring the city to choose Bally’s Corporation.

On Tuesday, Petersburg daily The News Index shared Aird’s statement that the Council’s attempt to claim she bullied her staff to select Bally’s was “political theater.” Aird stated the accusation was a smokescreen for the Council to hide its “true intentions to move forward with no process, no public engagement” and minimal transparency.

Aird’s fightback comes after accusations by the Council that she and her office attempted to stymie its decision to choose Cordish by drafting a Letter of Intent (LOI) to Bally’s that was never sent. Petersburg’s Director of Communications, Tourism, Marketing & Government Joanne Williams forwarded the LOI email to Mayor Parnham and City Manager March Altman from Aird’s Chief of Staff Jameson Babb.

While Altman signed the LOI email, it was never sent to Bally’s. According to the Index, the controversial LOI was “a key point of a resolution” that prompted Parnham’s office to choose Cordish over Bally’s and other bidders.

The resolution stated that no one in the Petersburg government “freely and voluntarily” authorized the LOI to Bally’s, which the Council ultimately did not permit Altman to send.

Aird stated the ongoing actions of the Council “have long proved that nobody can make this city’s leadership do anything – even when it’s in the best interest of the people they represent.”

The mayor maintains Aird and her supporters applied pressure on the Council to opt for a Bally’s-built casino on the back of Unite Here union support. Parnham has since dared Unite Here to file a lawsuit, threatening a counter suit.

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