I was talking with someone the other day about Indian gaming in California – about how it remains wildly lucrative and politically influential, and about how nascent casino developments like the one right here at the East Bay’s Point Molate are likely to keep it a hot issue in the next few years.
Gaming tribes have always been a formidable force in campaign contributions, so I figured I’d check the candidates for attorney general – whose office includes the Bureau of Gambling Control that ensures tribes comply with their gaming compacts – and the candidates for governor, as the governor has authority to negotiate those gaming compacts with tribes.
Attorney General candidate and Assembly Majority Leader Alberto Torrico, D-Newark, has received the most in this election cycle of any candidate – $74,124.82 – in either of these races, by far. Next-closest in either race is Democratic gubernatorial candidate and current state Attorney General Jerry Brown, who got $47,000; next closest in the AG’s race is Assemblyman Ted Lieu, D-Torrance, who got $36,400.
None of which is all that surprising: Torrico
until recently chaired (ed. note – 2006-2008, until his ascension to Assembly Majority Leader, though he serves on the committee still; my bad) the Assembly Governmental Organization Committee, which has dominion over Indian gaming matters, and now he’s running for another post with important Indian gaming oversight duties. Lieu is a member of that committee, too. (State Sen. Tom Harman, R-Huntington Beach, is vice chair of the Senate Governmental Oversight Committee; tribes gave him $26,400 for his run for AG.) And Brown’s hoping to go from one post crucial to Indian gaming to another.
Four candidates for AG reported no Indian gaming contributions at all – Democrats Kamala Harris and Chris Kelly, and Republicans Steve Cooley and John Eastman (though both the Republicans entered the race recently and haven’t filed campaign finance reports yet other than late and $5,000+ contributions requiring immediate disclosure).
In total, it looks as if tribes have spent almost $229,000 on these contests so far, but it’s still a long way to the primaries in June.
For the full breakdown of what Indian gaming money has gone where, follow me after the jump…