Action group “Save Idaho Horse Racing” claims a rival group funded by the Coeur D’Alene tribal casino operator is obstructing it from saving Idaho horseracing by allegedly waging a campaign of intimidating and bribery against its signature gatherers.
The group is pushing a ballot initiative to reintroduce instant racing machines at the state’s ailing racetracks. The tribe is one of four Indian gaming operators that led a successful attempt to have the terminals, which allow gamblers to wager on randomized reruns of races from around the world, banned at Idaho racetracks in 2015.
The Idaho Constitution permits parimutual betting, but not if it involves “any electronic or electromechanical imitation or simulation of any form of casino gambling.”
Save Idaho Horse Racing wants to ask voters to change the constitution and resurrect the machines, but first they need to collect around 56,000 signatures from registered voters from across the state by April 30 to push the issue onto the ballot.
Illegal Harassment Claim
With just six signature-gathering days left, Save Idaho Horse Racing believes the Coeur D’Alene is stepping up its efforts to derail the process – illegally, it alleges.
The group has reported numerous instances in which they claim signature gatherers have been intimidated by representatives of the North Idaho Voter Project, a political action committee established ostensibly to increase voter turnout in the region, funded by the Coeur D’Alene.
On Monday, Save Idaho Horse Racing spokesperson Ted Dvorak told KTVB that campaign staff have filed up to ten police reports against the North Idaho Voter Project, which, he claimed, has been stalking, harassing, and even bribing members of his campaign to leave their jobs.
Dvorak said he had a copy of a Facebook message sent to a signature gatherer from someone named “Kiely” offering $1,500 to quit the project.
“Do you guys know for a fact that this Kiely person works with the North Idaho Voter Project, the one that he had a messaging conversation with?” KTVB asked.
“We don’t know that, that’s something that we hope local authorities will get to the bottom of,” admitted Dvorak.
But Coeur d’Alene Tribe lawyer Tyrel Stevenson, an attorney from the Coeur d’Alene Tribe, dismissed the claims in the strongest terms.
“These are more lies from people who have been lying to Idahoans for years,” he told KTVB. “The special interests funding this petition clearly don’t have support for their effort to expand gambling in Idaho and are now looking for someone to blame. They should stop whining and accept reality: Idahoans don’t support them or their cause.”