Wilton Rancheria still wondering about anti-casino campaign

Artist's rendering of the Wilton Rancheria's resort project in Elk Grove, Caifornia. Image by Wilton Rancheria The Wilton Rancheria and its supporters are still trying to figure out who is behind a mysterious anti-casino effort.

A new clue emerged last week when a law firm turned in signatures to put a casino land deal on the ballot in Elk Grove, California. But Bell, McAndrews, and Hiltachk would not tell local medial outlets who is the client.

“We have no idea who the petitioners are,” Wilton Rancheria Chairman Raymond Hitchcock told The Elk Grove Citizen. “It’s outside money, outside influence coming here to take jobs away from the Elk Grove community.”

According to BallotPedia, the firm specializes in ballot measures like the one that is proposed in the city. Its prior clients included the California Tribal Business Alliance, according to Dave Johnson of the Campaign for America's Future.

The California Tribal Business Alliance is a small organization -- it currently consists of just two tribes. But in the past the group has played an outsized role in influencing policy matters at the state level.

And one of the members is the Picayune Rancheria of the Chukchansi Indians, whose leaders have spent millions of dollars trying to stop other tribes from opening new casinos. The Wilton Rancheria casino would be a lot closer to Sacramento and San Francisco than the Chukchansi Gold Resort and Casino.

Local media have speculated that rival tribes might be behind the anti-casino effort in Elk Grove but there has been no confirmation of the involvement of Chukchansi or others.

Read More on the Story:
City receives anti-casino petition signatures (The Elk Grove Citizen 11/25)
New details emerge on who is opposing Elk Grove casino (KCRA 11/22)
Elk Grove casino opponents turn in signatures to trigger referendum (The Sacramento Business Journal 11/22)
Elk Grove Casino Draws Thousands Of Signatures In Opposition (CBS13 11/22)
Elk Grove casino opponents turn in petitions backed by mystery donor (The Sacramento Bee 11/21)
City Of Elk Grove Reviews Petition Signatures To Stop Casino Project (Capital Public Radio 11/21)

Federal Register Notices:
Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the Proposed Wilton Rancheria Fee-to-Trust and Casino Project, Sacramento County, California (December 29, 2015)
Notice of Intent To Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement for the Proposed Wilton Rancheria Fee-to-Trust and Casino Project, Sacramento County, California (December 4, 2013)

An Opinion:
Steve Lee: The Truth About the Petitions and the Elk Grove Casino (The Elk Grove News 11/23)

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