The Chukchansi Economic Development Authority, the business and political arm of the the Chukchansi Gold tribal casino in Coarsegold, showered Valley lawmakers with more than $600 in gifts this year, according to recent state filings.
The tribe gave Assembly GOP leader Mike Villines a $138 gift basket and paid for food, drink and dinners for Sen. Dean Florez, D-Shafter (100 miles away!), Assembly members Tom Berryhill, R-Modesto, Connie Conway, R-Tulare, and termed-out Assembly member Nicole Parra, a Hanford Democrat.
The tribe, which opposes a casino proposed by the neighboring North Fork tribe in Madera County, is emerging as a political power player in Sacramento. Gee, that's enough to make me want to support it.
The tribe contributed $15,800 to legislative candidates in the last half of last year. And the tribe is the funding force behind the "San Joaquin Valley Leadership PAC," which last year spent $85,686 on campaign donations and independent expenditures for candidates.
The tribe gambled and won on three of four candidates it spent money on. Its losing bet? Assembly candidate Fran Florez, a Democrat, who lost to Hanford Republican Danny Gilmore. The tribe spent $32,200 on her. Isn't there a LIMIT?
Florez is the mother of state Sen. Florez, who until this year oversaw a committee with jurisdiction over gaming issues. Florez opposes the North Fork casino proposal. YA THINK? Wouldn't want the cashcow to not be happy, right Fran?