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Opinion: California tribes exert political blackmail

"While next week�s noncontest for governor draws about as much public attention as a wall of drying paint, something quite significant for the state�s future is taking place beneath the surface. One of the richest and most powerful state lobbies has shifted allegiance from Democrat to Republican and is likely to help elect California conservatives next week � and potentially for years to come.

Unfortunately, the new � and unlikely � conservative ally is none other than those pesky and money-laden Indian gaming tribes. Four Southern California powerhouse casino tribes have now unloaded nearly $10 million on their newly formed Team 2006 political committee. And at last count, 85 percent of their dollars have gone toward Republicans � a radical switch from previous cycles, when more than two-thirds of their contributions went to Democrats. The tribal funding is helping to resuscitate what would otherwise be a moribund California Republican Party.

By funneling their megafunding to Republicans this cycle, the gaming tribes are clearly trying to spook and intimidate the Democrats, hoping that when the new Legislature reconvenes, it will reconsider and rubber-stamp the casino expansions negotiated with the governor. �This is a statement, a warning shot,� Ned Wigglesworth, a policy advocate for California Common Cause, which tracks campaign activity, told the media. �What the tribes are doing with this war chest is challenging labor and sending a message to the Democratic Party.�"

Get the Story:
Marc Cooper: Our Indian Government (LA Weekly 11/2)

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California tribes back casino-friendly politicians (11/1)
Most California tribal money goes to Republicans (10/27)
California tribes spend millions on campaigns (10/26)
California tribes pour money into GOP campaigns (10/20)
Six California tribes form political committee (10/19)