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UFC Vice President Marc Ratner caught up in U.S. Senate bribery scandal

Marc Ratner, the former executive director of the Nevada Athletic Commission and current UFC Vice President, is a player in a U.S. Senate briabary scandal. Ratner gave U.S. Senator Harry Reid “free seats for Las Vegas fights between 2003 and 2005 as [Reid] was pressing legislation to increase government oversight of the sport, including the creation of a federal boxing commission that Nevada’s agency feared might usurp its authority.” The seats were worth several thousand dollars.

Ratner has defended his actions:

Marc Ratner, executive director of the Nevada Athletic Commission when Reid took the free tickets, said one of his desires was to convince Reid and McCain that there was no need for the federal government to usurp the state commission’s authority. At the time, McCain and Reid were pushing legislation to create a federal boxing commission.

“I invited him because I was talking with his staff” about the legislation, Ratner said. “This was a chance for all of my commissioners, who are politically appointed, to interact with them. It was important for them to see how we in Nevada did things.

“I am a states rights activist and I didn’t want any federal bill that would take away our state rights to regulate fights,” he said, adding that he hoped McCain and Reid, at the very least, would be persuaded to model any federal commission after Nevada’s body.

It remains to be seen if this will affect Ratner’s standing with the UFC or his ability to fulfill his role as the UFC’s liason with athletic commissions and states looking to regulate MMA. But, absent further developments, do not expect this to have much affect.

In my opinion, this looks like pretty typical political shmoozing and lobbying where politicians accept gifts and freebies that are on the fringe of ethiical and legal. The diference between this case and what I suspect to be hundreds of other similar cases is that the press learned about it.

(hat tip FightOpinion.com)

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