Group opposed to Wilton Rancheria casino won't reveal its backers

Artist's rendering of the Wilton Rancheria's resort project in Elk Grove, Caifornia. Image by Wilton Rancheria

A secretive group that's been opposing a new tribal casino in California remains just as elusive even after hosting a "public" meeting last week.

Protect Elk Grove mysteriously sprung up after the Wilton Rancheria announced plans for a casino in Elk Grove. Local media and local leaders tried in vain to find out who was behind the group but those efforts were unsuccessful.

Based on new media accounts, it looks like the group is the creation of George Urch, who runs a public relations firm in Anaheim, nearly 400 miles south of Elk Grove. But he wasn't even at the August 11 meeting -- he instead had local resident Joe Teixeira act as the spokesperson, according to news reports.

"I was given some resources to pay for the pizza, that’s it," Teixeira told The Elk Grove Citizen of the meeting. He said Urch even drafted the agenda for the meeting.

When contacted by The Elk Grove News, Urch declined to say who was funding his effort.

"It's people in the [Sacramento] business community," Urch told the paper. Teixeira believes the backers have "Democratic Party leanings," the paper reported.

According to his LinkedIn profile, Urch has worked on campaigns and as staff for a slew of Democratic politicians, mainly state lawmakers in California. During a 1994 race, his candidate was forced to return $40,000 donation connected to the Morongo Band of Mission Indians, The Los Angeles Times reported.

At this point, it's not clear who would want to oppose the Wilton Rancheria's project but it could be anyone, from tribes with existing facilities to non-Indian business and political interests.

The United Auburn Indian Community, the Shingle Springs Band of Miwok Indians and the Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation all operate casinos in the area but the site in Elk Grove would put the Witon Rancheria closer to Sacramento, the state capital, than any of the other tribes.

Read More on the Story:
Anti-Elk Grove casino group starts campaign (The Elk Grove Citizen 8/18)
'Protect Elk Grove' Holds Meeting, Seeks Grassroots Opposition Against Proposed Elk Grove Casino (The Elk Grove News 8/16)

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