‘A Litany of Greed’ details Potawatomi’s multimillion-dollar crusade to sidestep competition and preserve its gaming monopoly
KENOSHA, Wis. – The Forest County Potawatomi Community has spent more than $5.4 million to kill competition from another Wisconsin tribe’s proposed Kenosha casino and preserve a regional gaming monopoly, according to a new white paper released today by Casino Competition for Wisconsin.
The analysis, “A Litany of Greed,” details the extremes to which Potawatomi’s leaders have gone to sidestep competition, including multimillion-dollar attempts to influence a local election, change federal and state law to lock in their monopoly, air misleading political-style ads attacking the Kenosha project and more.
“Potawatomi’s leaders have clearly spared no expense to keep competition out of Southeast Wisconsin,” said Evan Zeppos, spokesman for the proposed Kenosha entertainment center and casino project. “$5.4 million is enough to educate 500 Wisconsin public school children or feed 2,500 hungry Wisconsin families for a year. But Potawatomi’s leaders are spending that money to try to hang on to their monopoly – even if they hurt a fellow tribe and the entire state in the process. It’s shocking, and extremely disappointing.”
“A Litany of Greed” highlights key parts of the Potawatomi fight against competition, including:
· More than $1 million on federal and state lobbying efforts to clamp a government lock on their monopoly. The Tribe’s nearly two dozen D.C. lobbyists have targeted federal officials as high up as the Executive Office of the President of the United States and the U.S. Congress. The Tribe has an army of powerful Wisconsin lobbyists, as well.
· Approximately $1 million so far to launch an anti-competition front group, “Wisconsin Gaming for Wisconsin” or “No East Coast.” The pro-monopoly group’s ongoing efforts include a costly battery of broadcast, print and online ads attacking the Kenosha project.
· An estimated $100,000 to stage an Illinois “public hearing” against the Kenosha project. The “hearing” was choreographed by a Potawatomi contract lobbyist. Later, the Illinois state legislator who hosted the event told a reporter she didn’t know the lobbyist was working for the Potawatomi. “I don’t mean to be stupid, but I never asked,” she said. “I guess I’m just the dumbest legislator there is.”
· Roughly $75,000 to commission and circulate a flawed study predicting economic doom for Milwaukee if the Kenosha casino were built. Experts with a respected international accounting firm later scrutinized the study and found it to rely on poor assumptions and inaccurate information.
· More than $1.2 million on efforts to sway a 2004 Kenosha County casino referendum. Potawatomi made up a front group to advocate “no” votes, launched a massive no-casino ad campaign, hired temporary workers to canvass against the proposal, issued inflammatory news releases against the project and more. Despite Potawatomi’s efforts, Kenosha voters overwhelmingly endorsed the casino.
“The Potawatomi’s efforts to keep competition out of Southeast Wisconsin are deliberate and relentless,” Zeppos said. “Potawatomi leaders have interfered with the Bureau of Indian Affairs’ review process, bankrolled anti-competition polls in two states and orchestrated several anti-competition letter-writing campaigns. It’s all an unnecessary fight because multiple economic studies, including one conducted expressly for the Potawatomi, confirm two competing Southeast Wisconsin casinos can both be very successful. But Potawatomi’s leaders would apparently rather ignore the facts in order to maintain a monopoly.”
Casino Competition for Wisconsin is a public education effort on behalf of the Menominee Tribe to expose the Forest County Potawatomi’s multimillion-dollar crusade to preserve its monopoly and stifle competition from the proposed Kenosha casino and entertainment center.
“While the current $5.4 million price tag in ‘A Litany of Greed’ is certainly shocking, we believe it’s actually a conservative estimate of the amount the Potawatomi have spent on thwarting competition in order to maintain their monopoly,” Zeppos said. “And the $5.4 million covers only the tactics we know about. It would be naïve to think they’re fighting this battle completely in the public eye. But as they fight tooth and nail against competition, they are also standing in the way of thousands of good-paying jobs for Wisconsin and more than $2 billion in payments to state and local government. By trying to gain an unfair business advantage, they are limiting Wisconsin’s potential for economic growth.”
With more than 8,300 members, the Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin is one of the state’s largest Indian tribes and also one of its poorest. The Tribe, which was terminated by Congress in 1954 and restored in 1973, is still struggling financially to overcome that devastating period in its history.
In order to provide for the significant health care, educational and other needs of its members, the Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin announced plans to build an $808 million entertainment center and casino at Kenosha’s Dairyland Greyhound Park in January 2004. The project would create more than 3,000 jobs and pay state and local government over $2 billion – more than any other Indian Tribe or Wisconsin business – over the facility’s first 25 years of operation. Economic analyses, including one performed for the Forest County Potawatomi Community, indicate there is ample room in the Southeast Wisconsin gaming market for an expanded Potawatomi casino in Milwaukee and a new Menominee casino in Kenosha to succeed.