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story.lead_photo.caption FILE — Players circulate the gaming floor on Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2017, during the grand opening of a Cherokee casino in Grove, Okla.

The Quapaw Tribe and Cherokee Nation collectively contributed more than $1.8 million in September to the ballot committee behind a proposed constitutional amendment that would clear the way for up to four full-fledged casinos in Arkansas, the committee reported Monday.

The Driving Arkansas Forward committee reported raising $1.87 million in contributions last month as it spent $1.77 million, largely for television and radio advertising expenses. That boosted the total amount that it's raised to $4.33 million and its total expenses to $4.17 million as of Sept. 30.

The Downstream Development Authority of the Quapaw Tribe in Quapaw, Okla., contributed $1.36 million to the committee last month to increase its total contributions to $2.76 million, the committee said in its report posted on the Arkansas Ethics Commission's website on Monday.

The Cherokee Nation Businesses LLC of Catoosa, Okla., chipped in $513,400 to the committee last month to increase its total contributions to $1.56 million.

Monday was the deadline for ballot-question committees to file their reports for September.

Nate Steel, counsel for the Driving Arkansas Forward committee, said in a written statement that "the report speaks for itself."

"But now that the court challenges are behind us, I think you can expect to see a little broader push going into the election," said Steel.

The Arkansas Supreme Court on Thursday rejected separate requests from the Ensuring Arkansas' Future and Citizens for Local Choices committees to order Republican Secretary of State Mark Martin not to certify any votes on Issue 4 cast during the Nov. 6 general election.

The proposed amendment would authorize the Arkansas Racing Commission to issue four casino licenses, including licenses for expanded gambling operations at Oaklawn Jockey Club and Southland Racing Corp., and allow sports betting. Under current state law, Oaklawn Racing and Gaming and Southland Gaming and Racing operate electronic games of skill.

Issue 4 also would allow casinos in Jefferson and Pope counties. The Quapaw Tribe has indicated its interest in applying for the casino license in Jefferson County, while the Cherokee Nation has indicated its interest in a casino in Pope County.

The It's Our Turn committee that is backing Issue 4 reported raising $50,000 and spending $48,691 last month. The contribution was from the parent company of Southland Racing Corp., Buffalo, N.Y.-based Delaware North. Spending was on canvassing costs and consulting and management fees.

Southland supports Issue 4, while Oaklawn isn't taking a position, according to their officials.

The Ensuring Arkansas' Future committee that opposes Issue 4 reported raising $100 and spending nothing last month. It receiving nonmonetary contributions totaling $2,403.47 from the Trotter Law Firm PLLC for paralegal expenses, copying costs and a filing fee.

The Citizens for a Better Pope County committee, also known as the Citizens for Local Choice committee, filed two reports for September. One report had total contributions of $16,755 and spending of $5,752 as of Sept. 30. The other report had total contributions of $5,215 and spending of $5,026 as of Sept. 30.

The Arkansas Thoroughbred Racing and Breeding Alliance reported raising no contributions and spending $19,060 on legal services last month. In total, the committee reported raising $20,000 in total contributions from Oaklawn Jockey Club and spending $16,744.14 as of Sept. 30.

TORT CHANGES

Issue 1 would limit attorneys' contingency fees; limit noneconomic damages to $500,000; cap punitive damages, with certain exceptions, to the greater of either $500,000 or three times the amount of compensatory damages awarded; and allow the Legislature to amend and repeal the state Supreme Court's rules of pleading, practice or procedure with a three-fifths vote.

The state Supreme Court is considering an appeal of Pulaski County Circuit Judge Mackie Pierce's ruling that ordered that no votes be counted for or against Issue 1. Issue 1 was proposed by the Legislature.

The Arkansans for Jobs and Justice Committee, which supports the issue, raised $387,575 and spent $1.019 million in September, according to its latest report to the Ethics Commission.

In all, the committee received $2.52 million and spent $2.039 million, as of Sept. 30.

The committee's largest contributions last month included $150,000 from Alexandria, La.-based Southern Administrative Services; $75,000 from Stephens Investment Holdings of Little Rock; $45,000 from Arkansas Forest & Paper Council; and $25,000 apiece from J.B. Hunt of Lowell and Rich Transport LLC of Little Rock, according to its report.

Its largest expenses last month included $740,934 for media buying, $73,400 for grass-roots expenses, $68,358 for legal expenses and $56,000 for research expenses.

Meanwhile, the Protect AR Families Committee that's opposed to Issue 1 reported raising $205,980 and spending $941,400.93 last month. That boosted the committee's total contributions to $2.81 million and its total expenses to $2.61 million, as of Sept. 30.

According to its report, its largest contributions last month included $50,000 from attorney Joey McCutchen of Fort Smith; $30,000 from the AAJ PAC of Washington, D.C.; $25,000 apiece from the Reddick law firm of Little Rock and Consumers Attorneys Issues PAC of Sacramento, Calif.; and $20,000 from Caddell Reynolds P.A. of Fort Smith. Its largest expense was $926,861.60 for advertising.

In addition, the Family Council Action Committee that opposes Issue 1 reported $145 in contributions and spending $94,842.93 last month, largely for advertising. In total, the committee reported receiving $150,995 in contributions and spending $122,266.02 as of Sept. 30.

The Liberty Defense Network LLC committee that's also opposed to Issue 1 reported raising no contributions and spending $68,500 on phone bank, grass-roots field service, online advertising and video expenses last month. The committee raised total contributions of $523,430.14 and spent a total $452,491.17 as of Sept. 30.

The Defending Your Day in Court committee that opposes the ballot proposal reported raising $11,604 and spending $7,004.08 last month. That increased its total contributions to $111,433.04 and its total expenses to $89,528.57 as of Sept. 30, the committee reported.

MINIMUM WAGE

The committee opposing the proposed initiated act to raise the state's minimum wage by $2.50 per hour to $11 per hour by 2021 -- Issue 5 -- reported raising $50,500 in contributions and spending $3,600 last month.

The contributions received last month by the Arkansans for a Strong Economy committee, led by Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce President Randy Zook, included $25,000 from the McDonald's Local Owner Operators PAC in Greers Ferry, $9,000 from Arkansas Oil Marketers Association in North Little Rock and $8,000 from Tobacco Superstore Inc. in Forrest City.

Through Sept. 30, the committee reported raising $66,700 in total contributions and spending $3,610. Last month, the committee asked the Supreme Court to yank the proposed initiated act from the ballot. The high court has yet to rule.

The Arkansans for a Fair Wage Committee that is promoting Issue 5 reported raising no money and spending $32,070.56 last month. The committee reported total contributions of $605,300 and spending $548,481.84 through Sept. 30.

TERM LIMITS

The Arkansans for Common Sense Term Limits committee opposes Issue 3, a proposed constitutional amendment to shorten the amount of time lawmakers may serve. The committee reported raising $60,000 in contributions and spending $3,620 last month. The committee, also led by Zook, received $50,000 from the Arkansas Farm Bureau in Little Rock and $10,000 from Nabholz Construction in Conway.

The U.S. Term Limits committee reported raising $19,929.70 from the Melbourne, Fla.-based U.S. Terms Limits general fund and spending the same amount for paid petition management last month.

In total, the committee reported raising $495,483.30 from the U.S. Term Limits general fund and spending the same as of Sept. 30.

U.S. Term Limits advocates for term limits at all levels of government, according to its website. U.S. Term Limits' board of directors includes Tim Jacob of Little Rock, who is a spokesman for the Arkansas Term Limits committee that is promoting Issue 3. Reports for August and September for the Arkansas Term Limits committee weren't posted on the Ethics Commission's website as of 7 p.m. Monday.

The Family Council Action Committee that supports Issue 3 reported raising $770 in contributions and spending $691.91 as of Sept. 30.

The proposed amendment would limit state lawmakers to serving a maximum of 10 years in the Legislature. They also would be restricted to three two-year terms in the House and two four-year terms in the Senate. Amendment 94, approved by voters in 2014, allows lawmakers to serve up to 16 years in the House, Senate or through service in both chambers.

A Section on 10/16/2018

Print Headline: Tribes give over $1.8M in month to Arkansas committee behind proposed casino amendment

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Archived Comments

  • JA40
    October 16, 2018 at 10:05 a.m.

    The way I read it, if

  • Popsmith
    October 16, 2018 at 10:47 a.m.

    There is something immoral about helping people put their money into something that gives a negative rate of return.

  • JA40
    October 16, 2018 at 11:31 a.m.

    Anyhow, the way I read it shows 55% of the revenue from the casinos will go to the State general fund.....with no earmarks. Our administration did an awful job of supervising the last 'slush fund' they had, and this one will be 'bigly'. I just can't vote to give them this money to use as they want.

  • MaxCady
    October 16, 2018 at 12:56 p.m.

    Why is Arkansas always the last one to the table on things like this?? Lady Luck/Isle of Capri has been sucking money out of the state for 20+ years. You've got casinos over the border in Oklahoma, a "racino" in Hot Springs and West Memphis. Now that the novelty has worn off, four casinos would not make it in this poor state. I remember when Splash first opened in Mississippi and people waited in line for hours AND had to pay $10 admission just to walk in the door! Those days are over.

  • hurricane46
    October 16, 2018 at 1:11 p.m.

    Vote yes to keep the money in state. If it passes it will benefit Oaklawn most of all, NWA won't be affected at all. But maybe Arkansas can keep a little more money from going to MS or MO.

  • UoABarefootPhdFICYMCA
    October 16, 2018 at 2:47 p.m.

    They want to buy another State? Some more slaves? what?

  • Packman
    October 16, 2018 at 4:04 p.m.

    CNN is reporting Elizabeth Warren will be demanding 1/1,024 of the proceeds from this day forward from Cherokee casinos.

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