What's at stake:

The Clovis City Council will vote tonight on whether to pay up to $350,000 for an election that would allow local 500 Club casinos to expand.

Clovis city councilmember Matt Basgall received his single biggest campaign contribution last year from a contractor of Club 500.

The Clovis City Council is voting Monday evening on whether to pay for a special election this fall to increase the number of allowed gaming tables at local 500 Club casinos. The special election would cost roughly $350,000, according to Clovis city staff.

If approved, the city will find a way to publicly fund the casino-expansion election. One local 500 Club casino, at Willow and Shaw Avenues, is roughly one mile from Fresno State. 

Last year, newly elected Clovis Councilmember Matt Basgall received $25,000 in campaign contributions from two entities related to Club 500 Casinos – $20,000 from KB Ventures, a contractor with the 500 Club Casino, on August 22, 2023; and, $5,000 from Club One owner, K & M Casinos Inc., on August 23, 2023, according to campaign contribution filings with the City of Clovis. KB Ventures was Basgall’s biggest campaign contributor.

A new state law, SB 1439, requires local legislators to recuse themselves from any decisions that involve campaign contributors who have given more than $250, or return the money instead. That law does not apply to contributions received by candidates in 2022, as the California Fair Political Practices Commission has clarified.

According to the request from John Holt, Clovis city manager, “[t]he city attorney is currently evaluating if there are any options for the City Council to consider on where the funding to pay for the election would come from.” 

Basgall serves as director of school security at California Health Sciences University, a controversial for-profit medical school in North Clovis that’s owned by Farid Assemi, one of Fresno’s most wealthy businessmen. 

The Clovis City Council meets on Monday evenings at 6:00 p.m. You can watch a live-stream of the meeting here.

Heather Halsey Martinez contributed to this reporting.

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Gregory Weaver is a staff writer for Fresnoland who covers the environment, air quality, and development.

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