Indian Tribes Betting Big On Jerry Brown

Gaming tribes open checkbooks for governor's tax initiative

Gov. Jerry Brown's campaign workers have been on the streets less than a week, gathering signatures to qualify his temporary tax proposal for the November ballot.

But already, it's apparent that some California gaming tribes are placing a big bet on Brown's plans.

They are among a handful of deep-pocket donors that, collectively, have contributed more than $1.4 million to the governor's ballot committee in recent weeks.

Data available on-line from Secretary of State Debra Bowen show that, at this early stage, the tribes are kicking in some serious cash.  

The list of large contributors includes the Paskenta Band of Nomlaki Indians, who kicked in $100,000.  The San Pablo Band also contributed $100,000. 

The Morongo Band of Indians, which operates a big casino near Palm Springs, wrote a check for $25,000.  And the California Tribal Business Alliance, which represents several tribes that operate casinos, gave $75,000.

The gaming tribes aren't the only ones who support the idea of increasing the sales tax and boosting taxes on the wealthy.  The State Building Trades has contributed $250,000.  The California Hospital Association has written a check of $500,000.  And Blue Shield has ponied up $100,000.

It's typical for campaigns to spend $3 million to hire enough signature-gatherers to qualify an initiative, so Brown's team has already raised half of what it needs from these large donors.

Election rules give Brown's campaign 150 days, starting last week, to gather just over half a million valid voter signatures to put his taxes before voters this fall.

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