Santa Barbara Attorney Jim Marino has an interesting column up on the leverage that California's Gaming tribes have on our state congress. These include tribes like Enterprise Rancheria, Pechanga, Redding Rancheria and Picayune Rancheria that have stepped all over the civil and human rights of some of their members, denying them voting rights, elder care and access to their homelands.
Pay to play
The pay to play mentality has never been more prevalent than it is today. The historic special interests have been around a long time: unions, big business, medical and legal based associations, prison guards and a number of others.
The newest players are the handful of Indian casino groups, some with only one or two “tribal members,” many with questionable tribal identities and who have been allowed to build and operate full blown class III gambling casinos on land that is not eligible for Indian gambling under federal law.
On any given day you can see these casino Indians arriving in Sacramento in their private jet planes bearing gifts in the guise of political contributions to those willing legislators and officials with hands extended.
Just a few of the many, many examples have had direct impacts on local communities and more can be expected
When the voters approved Proposition 1A in March 2000, few understood that they were not just amending the Constitution, Art. 4, sec. 19, to authorize the governor to negotiate gambling compacts with federally recognized Indian tribes or bands.
Rather, the voter approval in effect ratified the 59 tribal-state compacts executed by Gov. Gray Davis without existing authority and approved by the legislators in October 1999.
THE MONEY SECTION of the ARTICLE
Friends in high places
The state of California and Gov. Schwarzenegger could have required these tribes, offering these machines for play like the casino at San Pablo, Calif., to pay significant money to the state and further to follow rules of operation established by the state in that compact.
At the 11th hour, state Senator Jim Battin from the Palm Springs area wrote a letter urging Commissioner Hogen and the National Indian Gaming Commission not to change the rule, and he got 20 other senators to sign that letter.
The rule was not changed.
So here is a state senator urging a federal agency not to change a rule that would have been a benefit to the state is supposed to represent.
Senator Battin has funneled thousands of dollars in Indian casino monies to his political colleagues in Sacramento through his “Friends of Jim Battin” committees, (lending new meaning to the expression “it pays to have friends”).
When his campaign financing practices ran afoul of the California Fair Political Practices Commission, he set up the “Jim Battin Defense Fund,” funded, of course, by Indian casino money.