Commentary: Indian Gaming Vote A Sure Thing?

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(Sacramento, CA)
Friday, January 18, 2008

The four state/Indian gambling deals were ratified by the legislature late this summer. But before they become law, they have to be sent to the U.S. Department of Interior for review. By law, the Secretary of Interior has 45 days to either accept or reject Indian/state gambling compacts. If he fails to act, they become law automatically.

Now, get this. After California’s compacts were sent to Washington in early September, they were misplaced for 80 days. They just reappeared one day in the in-box of a key Bureau of Indian Affairs official. (I am not making this up). Because they were lost longer than the 45 day deadline for action, when they resurfaced they were deemed approved automatically.

These Indian gambling deals are worth an estimated $50 billion dollars. It’s very hard, in fact impossible for me to believe that they disappeared accidentally. No matter what the vote on February 5th, an investigation is warranted.  Where were these compacts for 80 days before they magically re-appeared? Who had them? Who returned them? Innocent bureaucratic bungling? I don’t think so.


Ginger Rutland writes for The Sacramento Bee opinion pages.