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Column: Pueblo contributions linked to Navajo compact dispute

Filed Under: Compacts
More on: navajo, new mexico, pueblo

The Route 66 Casino at Laguna Pueblo in New Mexico. Photo from Facebook

Laguna Development Corporation, which manages casinos for Laguna Pueblo, ranked among the top 10 donors to state lawmakers, who rejected a Class III gaming compact for the Navajo Nation:
Laguna Development Corp. spread at least $17,750 among 57 legislators, both Democrats and Republicans, in the few months prior to the start of the legislative session in January. That’s about half of the members of the House and Senate. Of the 57 who received campaign contributions, 21 were senators who aren’t facing re-election this year.

Laguna Development has long been a significant donor to lawmakers, and the contributions in the final months of 2013 were enough for the company to make the top 10 list of biggest donors to legislators and legislative candidates over a six-month ended last month.

“We want people to get to know us,” says Kathy Gorospe, chief of government relations for Laguna Development. “We look at it as relationship building.”

As in the past, the list of largest contributors to legislators and legislative candidates was dominated by energy companies and other business interests.

During the legislative session, Laguna Pueblo and the development company, which manages the pueblo’s casinos on Interstate 40 west of Albuquerque, said new Navajo Nation casinos would cannibalize existing tribal casinos. Other pueblos joined Laguna in the fight.

The House approved the Navajo Nation compact 36-30, but the Senate rejected it by a three-to-one margin.

Of the lawmakers who received donations from Laguna Development, 32 sided with the company in voting to reject the Navajo Nation compact. A total of 24 voted for the compact and one didn’t vote.

Get the Story:
Thomas J. Cole: Tribal company opens pocketbook for lawmakers (The Albuquerque Journal 5/19)

Related Stories:
Navajo Nation casino puts dent in non-Indian racino revenues (03/12)
Navajo Nation weighs next step for New Mexico gaming compact (3/5)

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