12/03/2021 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 12/03/2021 17:01
Today, Florida State Senator Jeff Brandes called for an investigation into the alleged activities of the Seminole Tribe and their vendors who reportedly are using paid petition gatherer blockers to bully, intimidate and harass Florida voters, interfering in a process guaranteed to every American by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution "to petition the government for a redress of grievances." This right is delineated in the Florida Constitution and addressed in practice in Florida statute.
The allegations, stemming from a recent POLITICO-Florida story, Seminoles paying off petition gatherers as part of 2022 Florida gaming turf war, by Matt Dixon on November 29, 2021, report that, "The Seminole Tribe of Florida is paying petition gathering firms to not work in Florida during the 2022 midterms as part of an effort to block rival proposed gaming constitutional amendments - a strategy that also includes running a separate informal signature gathering operation and hiring workers that interfere with other petition gatherers."
Dixon further reports that, "The Tribe is also separately paying workers to interfere with rival petition gatherers, according to interviews with petition gatherers involved in the 2022 efforts."
In a follow up story on December 2, 2021, POLITICO-Florida, Las Vegas Sands sues Seminoles-linked groups over major gambling expansion in Florida, shared that one ballot amendment group, Florida Voters in Charge, filed suit in Leon County against several persons and committees alleging "tortious interference with business relationships" in these previously identified petition blocking methods.
In response to these recent developments, Sen. Brandes stated, "While the Seminole Tribe clearly is worried about Floridians having a voice in the expansion of gaming, it is inexcusable to condone these tactics that have voters concerned for their safety and legitimate petition gatherers fearing for their safety and their job.
"I find this incredibly disingenuous when back in 2018 the Seminole Tribe contributed more than $24 million to have voters pass Amendment 3, requiring that any gaming expansion should be approved by voters, only to spend more than that to back an intimidation campaign to discourage Florida voters from signing a petition to place an amendment on the ballot.
"Just this year, I questioned Seminole Gaming Chief Executive Jim Allen before committee, asking if the Seminole Tribe would oppose ballot measures that could lead to new casinos in areas of the state that do not violate the compact and if that was something the Tribe would fund against. His response was that the Tribe's current board would not oppose ballot measures that could lead to new casinos more than 100 miles from its facilities.
"As a Constitutionalist, I believe the Seminole Tribe is actively and illegally denying people of their right to have their voice heard through the ballot amendment process. I have found that if it looks like voter intimidation, smells like voter intimidation, it's likely voter intimidation.
"I am calling on our state attorneys across the state to investigate these disturbing revelations, look into these charges, and to thoroughly examine the tactics of the paid hires of the Seminole Tribe. They cannot hide behind the veil of a vendor relationship. They are actively paying for these tactics, and I believe the people deserve to know if they are directing it."