Seminole Tribe Allegedly Paying Off Signature Gatherers to Sabotage Ballot Initiatives

Posted on: December 1, 2021, 11:33h. 

Last updated on: December 2, 2021, 09:58h.

The Seminole tribe of Florida is buying off petition gathering firms in a bid to sabotage voter-led challenges to its state gaming monopolies, a POLITICO story claims.

Seminole casino
The Seminoles hold the monopoly on casino gambling in Florida at their seven casinos, including the Hard Rock Hollywood, pictured. (Image: Wilfredo Lee/AP)

One such company, Dunton Consulting, employed by Las Vegas Sands Corp (LVS), told the politics-focused website it had lost 32 signature gatherers to the Seminoles in the previous two days alone. That’s more than half its team.

Dunton CEO Rasheida Smith said her employees were being offered money upfront to stop work, followed by an additional payment three days later, up to $7,000 in total. They’re also being awarded $250 bonuses for each Dunton employee they can recruit to switch sides and work for the tribe.

LVS Initiative

The Seminoles hold a monopoly on casino gaming in Florida at their seven Hard Rock-branded casinos. They want it to stay that way.

The tribe also, at least nominally, holds a monopoly on sports betting, per a compact negotiated and signed with Gov. Ron DeSantis (R). Last week, a federal judge tossed out the agreement, although the Tribe is appealing the decision.

Meanwhile, Las Vegas-based LVS has long harbored an ambition to open a casino in Florida. It has teamed up with Alabama’s Poarch Band of Creek Indians on a ballot initiative called “Florida Voters in Charge.”

This initiative is hoping to ask voters at a 2020 ballot whether they want to change the state constitution to allow pari-mutuel card rooms in North Florida to become full-fledged casinos. That’s provided they are 130 miles away from the Seminole reservation.

This could allow LVS or the Poarch Creeks to buy a cardroom in or around the Jacksonville area that could then be transformed into a casino resort.

Canvassers ‘Harassed’

Meanwhile, DraftKings and FanDuel have an initiative of their own, “Florida Education Champions.” For obvious reasons, they want voters to back a more open and inclusive betting market for Florida.

But the company in charge of that signature-gathering campaign, Advanced Micro Targeting, said its canvassers were being “harassed.”

Zachery Herrington, the company’s state director, told POLITICO he is concerned the tribe is hiring unprofessional or even “dangerous” staffers.

They will harass us for a spot. They will do something like piss someone off at a DMV, or a courthouse, or a parking lot, then everyone gets kicked out,” Herrington said. “It’s designed to burn that turf for everyone.”

A spokesperson for the tribe said they do not condone or tolerate such tactics by their canvassers, and would fire staff who engaged in aggressive behavior.