Tribes Bet A Bundle On Initiative 651 Supporters Ante Up $1.3 Million For Indian Gambling Measure
The tribal gambling measure is the most expensive campaign in the state of Washington, with more than $1.3 million already spent by supporters of Initiative 651.
The Spokane Tribe is the largest contributor by far, spending $833,250 on the measure, state records show. That’s nearly $1,000 for each of the roughly 850 enrolled tribal members.
The Puyallups have contributed $275,000, the Colvilles $100,000, and the Shoalwater Bay tribe $32,500.
The measure facing voters next month would remove most state restrictions on casino gambling on Indian land.
It also would pay 10 percent of gambling revenues, after deductions for administrative costs, to every voter in the state.
The tribes say they need the initiative to provide economic opportunity for their people. It would allow them to expand their gaming operations, providing good jobs for tribal members and money for social programs, supporters say.
They face stiff opposition from nine other tribes that launched Tribes for Responsible Gaming this month. The opposing tribes say they favor gambling and slot machines on tribal land.
“But I-651 goes too far,” said Doreen Maloney, Upper Skagit tribal council member and spokeswoman for the antiinitiative. “We are not opposing gaming. We are opposing the unrestricted gaming created by I-651.”
The group has raised $217,500 so far to fight the initiative, including $150,000 from the Muckleshoots, $60,000 from the Upper Skagits, and $7,500 from the Tulalips.
Gogerty and Stark, a powerhouse public affairs firm in Seattle, has been hired as a consultant by the opposing tribes to help beat the initiative.
Gogerty and Stark has handled many of the biggest political fights this year, including the battle to build a new stadium for the Mariners baseball team.
Another group opposing the initiative, the Committee Against Unrestricted Gambling, has raised $184,875, state records show. The non-tribal group is made up primarily of tavern owners, pulltab suppliers and charities that raise money from bingo.
They fear Las Vegas style gambling on tribal lands will steal away their pull-tab and bingo fans.
Spending on Referendum 48, the property rights measure, also is headed skyward.
Billed as an underdog fight by beleaguered citizens against bruising bureaucrats, the property rights campaign has topped $1 million in spending, ballooned by more than $400,000 from state and national building interests.
Timber companies have pitched in cash too, including $35,000 from Simpson Timber, $23,000 from Longview Fiber, $25,000 from Plum Creek Timber and $15,000 from Boise Cascade, state records show.
In all, property rights proponents have spent $1.2 million to put the measure before the Legislature last session, and to convince voters to keep the law by voting yes on Referendum 48.
The top five contributors to the referendum are the Building Industry Association of Washington, which gave $118,000; the National Association of Realtors, which gave $100,000; the Washington Association of Realtors, which kicked in $87,000, and the State Farm Bureau, which gave $86,000, including staff and office space for the campaign.
The No on 48 campaign has raised $647,797 so far, with the biggest chunks coming from environmental and labor groups, and wealthy individuals.
The top five contributors are the League of Conservation Voters Education Fund, which gave $55,000; the Western States Center Inc., which gave $27,000; the Sierra Club, which gave $20,000, and John Powers of Seattle, who gave $20,000.
The measure would require taxpayers to pay property owners when a government regulation adopted for public benefit reduces their property value by any amount.
Property covered by the measure includes land and any improvement to it, crops and water rights. The measure also requires taxpayers to pay for any maps, plans or studies government requires to review land use proposals.