Monday, January 30, 2006

Connecticut's Mohegan Indians Hold Doyle Fundraiser

Doyle isn't leaving donations to chance
Posted: Oct. 29, 2005
Cary Spivak & Dan Bice

In 2002, now-Gov. Jim Doyle didn't receive a huge helping hand from casino-rich tribes until some $700,000 in soft money made its way to state Democratic coffers days before the election.

This time around, the guv isn't waiting. He's already been out there mining Indian Country for several months.

Back in May, Doyle raked in 20 grand from Mohegan tribal officials who would manage the humongous casino that the Menominee tribe wants to open in Kenosha. Those contributions were part of the nearly $150,000 that Doyle collected this year from folks involved in the effort to turn Dairyland Greyhound Park into a casino.

A new Doyle campaign filing shows the Mohegans got something for their money:

Face time with the governor - the very same governor who may have the final say on the proposed $808 million casino.
The filing shows that Doyle's campaign paid a couple thousand bucks to fly out East to hit up contributors in New York City, where he raised $11,235, and in Connecticut, where the Mohegan tribe operates its casino. The campaign dropped about $400 for Doyle, chief of staff Susan Goodwin and an aide to stay at the tribe's hotel.

Doyle's campaign manager, Rich Judge, estimated Friday that about 40 or 50 people showed up for the Wisconsin governor's gala fund-raiser at the Mohegan Sun hotel, which is part of the casino complex.

When quizzed about the propriety of flying to Connecticut for a sit-down with casino execs, Judge began his holier-than-thou routine, saying Mohegan officials loved Doyle's views on national issues.

"The Governor is recognized as a national leader on many issues (stem cell research, re-importation of drugs from Canada, etc) and he is certainly highly regarded in the various tribal communities for the leadership and respect that he has shown on issues of tribal sovereignty," Judge wrote in an e-mail.

Hmmm, who knew Doyle's stem-cell policy was such a hit with the Mohegans? And the fact that Doyle has unilateral veto authority over the Kenosha gambling hall didn't even cross their minds, right?

"To suggest there is any connection to any of that is not even close to reality," Judge said in an interview.

Just last week, Doyle was shaking down tribal officials closer to home.

On Tuesday, Doyle, who will face either U.S. Rep. Mark Green or County Executive Scott Walker next year, attended a Green Bay fund-raiser sponsored by the Oneida tribe at its hotel near its profitable casino.

Oneida officials said the tribe played host to about a half-dozen Wisconsin tribes, including officials from the Ho-Chunk, Stockbridge-Munsee, St. Croix Chippewa and Potawatomi, a vehement opponent of the Kenosha casino proposal.

Judge declined to say how much was raised at the one-hour event, but he said, "We were very pleased."

Kevin Cornelius, the Oneidas' political honcho, played down the fund-raising aspect, but acknowledged that Doyle brought along his campaign finance chief to bag the checks.

"It was a private reception," Cornelius said. "But I understand that in the normal process of business, people will give checks, and they were given to the campaign (aide)."

Even so, you can't help but wonder: Should the Democratic governor be collecting cash from tribal types while his team is in the midst of contentious compact negotiations with the tribes? The new compacts - only the Potawatomi have a signed deal - will lay out the rules for Indian gaming for years to come.

"The governor doesn't negotiate the compacts," Judge said.

But his staff does, and he signs them.

Judge said he didn't believe that anybody would make a contribution to get a better deal from the governor.

Perhaps these tribes - all of which depend on their casinos for millions of dollars in revenue - are just crazy about Doyle's position on stem cells.


Post a Comment

<< Home