Seminole Signature Blocking: LVS Drops Temporary Injunction Pursuit
Posted on: December 13, 2021, 09:16h.
Last updated on: December 13, 2021, 12:11h.
An LVS Corp.-backed political action committee, “Florida Voters in Charge” (FVC), has withdrawn a request for a temporary restraining order against campaign groups linked to the Seminole tribe.
FVC sued the Seminole groups last week, accusing them of using aggressive and underhand tactics to undermine its campaign to get a gambling expansion measure on the 2022 Florida ballot. The groups include a Seminole-funded PAC called “Standing Up for Florida.”
A Leon County judge refused FVC’s request for an emergency restraining order last Wednesday. But on Friday, she also denied the Seminoles’ motion to dismiss the case.
Instead, Judge Angela Dempsey of the Florida 2nd Judicial Circuit in Tallahassee set an evidentiary hearing on the injunction for this Tuesday.
Race Against Time
On Saturday, FVC spokeswoman Sarah Bascom said her organization was dropping its pursuit of the injunction. That’s because it wanted to focus on gathering the near 900,000 signatures required to get its motion on the ballot. But it will continue to pursue damages against the Seminole groups for their “egregious” blocking tactics, she said.
According to Bascom, FVC has around 246,000 signatures of 891,589 needed. The deadline is ostensibly February 1. But, in reality, it’s December 30, because election supervisors need a month to verify them.
With our effort reaching this critical stage and our signature gathering progress in full swing, we will not be deterred by legal maneuvers seeking to bring our on-the-ground team members out of the field and tie them up in legal proceedings,” Bascom said.
Among the allegations are that the Seminole groups have targeted the FVC effort with a campaign of “coordinated harassment and intimidation.” The lawsuit claims the groups are paying signature gatherers as much as $7,000 either to leave the state for at least six weeks or to switch to the other side.
They have also allegedly been circulating a “sham petition,” designed to confuse voters by tricking them into thinking they’ve already signed the LVS petition.
Jacksonville Casino is Ultimate Prize
The Seminoles hold a virtual monopoly on casino gaming in Florida at their seven Hard Rock casinos, and they want it to stay that way
Meanwhile, LVS and its campaign ally, Alabama’s Poarch Band of Creek Indians, want to ask voters to change the Florida constitution to allow pari-mutuel card rooms based at least 130 miles away from the Seminole reservation to become casinos. Theoretically, that could allow them to purchase a card room in or around the Jacksonville area that could later be converted into a full-blown casino resort.
LVS has long coveted a casino in Florida and has poured at least $27 million into the campaign, according to the Florida Division of Elections website.
“Standing Up for Florida” has received at least $20 million from the Seminoles since Sept. 1.
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