Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Walker's Casino Approval Strategy Likely To Benefit Large GOP Donors

Governor Scott Walker’s plan to require unanimous approval of the Menominee Indian Tribe’s proposed Kenosha casino by all of Wisconsin’s 11 tribes likely means the project is doomed – an outcome that benefits a couple of huge GOP campaign supporters.

Two of the tribes – the Forest County Potawatomi Community and the Ho-Chunk Nation – who oppose the project have contributed a total of $193,400 in the last two years to two GOP outside electioneering groups that have spent an estimated $16.7 million to help Walker and numerous Republican state senators and legislative candidates win elections in recent years.

The Forest County Potawatomi which operates a lucrative casino in Milwaukee and has opposed the Menominee project for years has contributed $150,900 to the Republican Governors Association since July 2011, including $50,000 on February 25, 2013, a Democracy Campaign review of U.S. Internal Revenue Service records found.

Not only is the Potowatomi a big supporter of a major GOP group, but the association has spent more than any other outside electioneering group to support Walker. It doled out an estimated $5 million to elect Walker in 2010 and another $9.4 million in the 2012 recall election to keep Walker in office.

Another outside electioneering group, the Republican State Leadership Committee, which helped numerous Republican legislative candidates received $42,500 from the Potawatomi and the Ho-Chunk Nation which wants to build a casino in Beloit and is also opposes the Menominee’s Kenosha project.

The Republican State Leadership Committee spent an estimated $2.3 million mostly on Senate races in the 2010 general and 2011 and 2012 recalls. Most notably the group spent about $472,000 in the 2010 general elections to help take out former Democratic Senate Majority Leader Russ Decker and turn control of the Senate over to the GOP.

The likelihood that all of Wisconsin’s 11 tribes would approve the project was probably a tough hurdle from the get-go, but now seems almost impossible given the Potawatomi and the Ho-Chunk are among those tribes.

That the Potawatomi and Ho-Chunk are major GOP campaign contributors puts Walker’s criteria for approving the deal in a different light. The governor says he didn’t want to play King Solomon and use his unilateral authority under federal law to “pick or choose between two well-respected entities” referring to the Menominee and Potawatomi tribes.

But the governor has created a casino approval process that is a likely no-win scenario for the Menominee, benefits wealthy supporters and makes it look like Walker tried to be exceedingly fair.


Anonymous said...

First and most importantly - this was really informative.
I don't know that the impression will be that Walker was exceedingly fair. I have felt Walker's laughter and enjoyment underlying his words, and I think most people do. I think it's pretty clear that Republicans are not big on Treaty Rights, not big on mini-nations full of un-assimilated folks who get "special consideration" and are recipients of various types of welfare, and most important are "beneficiaries" of reverse discrimination. You know, we all know, how Republicans feel about Reverse Discrimination, and how they view he situation between US Govt and First Peoples as being a clean slate, and what the heck is your problem, join the 21st Century already. I guess you gotta do what you gotta do, and it's possible the entire Potawatomi tribe just loves the heck outta the Republican message, and maybe they just love seeing lame caricatures of themselves all over football games (which of course Republicans think is cute) etc. but in essence, I find it really disturbing that they are dealing with the devil, and at no bargain-basement price either.
I do believe that the longer range goal of Republicans is to eliminate entirely any treaties, probably reservations and tribal lands if possible. I suppose casino money can be turned around to use to pay for legal fights against any encroachments of that type, but this is a a situation with the strangest of strange bedfellows. I understand the left and right coming together over surveillance issues, and I view that as a great thing. I also would welcome all conspiracy theorists into that fold, anyone who objects to the 4th being trampled on, is fine with me. I don't like exclusive clubs, (which Democrats too often are IMO)
But this Tribe-Walker arrangement, it's kinda creepy. I remember when casinos go their start, it was the managers (non-Indian and Indian) who made off with serious amounts of cash and mismanaged/exploited casinos to levels that hurt the tribe's average member. There's been an element of Ugly to these casinos from day one, and people should step carefully when choosing alliances.
In addition, this is a great example of North v. South tensions. Nice to know that the northern tribes are struggling against the governor who was helped to remain in office with southern tribal cash. I'm sure that amuses Walker no end. The North-South divide in WI, whether between tribes or all of us un-holy European squatters, is getting really really old. Especially since the South always wins due to self-protecting alliances and enormous piles of cash.

Anonymous said...

When unlimited amounts of cash can be spent on candidates it affects out candidates moral compass.