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Ventura Body Slams Gov. on Indian Gaming

From Times Staff Writers

A San Bernardino Indian tribe is airing television spots featuring former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura criticizing Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s demand that tribes pay a fourth of their gambling profits to California.

Deron Marquez, chairman of the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians, said the ad, costing more than $1 million, is the “first of many” being contemplated by his tribe to counter what he said has been Schwarzenegger’s effort to “demonize tribes.”

The commercial airs as the San Manuel and other tribes continue to campaign for -- and Schwarzenegger denounces -- Proposition 70, an initiative that would allow Indians unlimited rights to expand casinos on their reservations.

Schwarzenegger sniped back in a radio appearance Wednesday, calling Ventura’s spot “really funny -- a guy from Minneapolis coming in here and getting involved in this.”

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“But that’s what your friends are for,” the governor said on Sacramento radio station KTKZ.

The spot is not part of the Yes on 70 campaign. Ventura merely alludes to the initiative, referring to the Proposition 70 provision that tribes pay the state 8.84% of their net casino revenue, California’s corporate tax rate.

The Minnesotan then criticizes Schwarzenegger for demanding that casino tribes pay “three times more than other businesses.” Schwarzenegger has called on tribes to pay as much as 25% of their revenue to the state in exchange for maintaining their monopoly on Nevada-style casinos in California.

“Didn’t the governor promise a balanced budget without raising taxes?” Ventura says in the ad, then concludes bitterly, “I guess it’s OK to rip off Indians.”

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The line is a reference to Schwarzenegger’s statements during the Proposition 70 campaign that some tribes are “ripping off” California by refusing to pay the state what the governor believes is an appropriate sum.

Ventura, a onetime wrestler and action movie star, appeared in two films with California’s weightlifter-turned-governor, including “Predator,” in which the advertising line was: “Nothing like it has ever been on Earth before.” On Wednesday, some political experts were wondering whether there had ever been an ad quite like the one in which Ventura verbally smacks at Schwarzenegger.

“This is the Halloween ad of the season,” Democratic consultant Bill Carrick said of the spot, which features Ventura wearing dark clothes against a heavily shaded backdrop. “We very seldom have former governors from other states weighing in on our issues.”

Marquez said the tribe paid Ventura for his appearance but wasn’t certain of the amount. Ventura’s agent did not return a call from The Times. Marquez said the tribe chose Ventura as a spokesman because he is an ex-governor who “understands tribal issues, and took the time to communicate with tribal nations in Minnesota.”

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Marquez said the tribe launched the campaign because Schwarzenegger has refused to “apologize for statements he made about tribes ripping off California.”

Schwarzenegger and his aides have not backed off the statement. “The only Indians being ripped off are the ones who paid Jesse Ventura to embarrass himself by appearing in this ad,” Schwarzenegger campaign spokesman Todd Harris said.

GOP Gets Free Air Time; Equal Time Rejected

A Central Valley broadcaster who donated $325,000 in free television and radio advertising time to Republican county committees on Wednesday rejected a Democratic assemblywoman’s request for free, equal air time.

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In a letter, lawyers for Visalia broadcaster Harry J. Pappas told lawyers for Assemblywoman Nicole Parra (D-Hanford) that she can buy advertising on Pappas’ Fresno and Visalia television and radio stations, but she will not be given free air time.

Parra’s Republican opponent, Dean Gardner, has scheduled some advertising on the Pappas stations using the donated time. Earlier this month, Pappas donated $25,000 worth of broadcast time to 13 Republican county central committees, including those in Fresno and Kings counties.

Democrats have vowed to file complaints with the Federal Communications Commission arguing that Pappas must give opposing candidates equal time under federal laws that govern the use of public airwaves. They also allege that Pappas’ donation violates state campaign finance rules.

On Tuesday, after Democrats launched a boycott of his stations, Pappas donated $25,000 in free Spanish-language television time to five Democratic county central committees. Democrats said they would reject the donation.

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Also on Wednesday, the San Diego County Republican Central Committee rejected the Pappas donation of free broadcast time. The donation involved a television station that airs only in adjacent Imperial County, said Jonathan Buettner, chief operating officer of the San Diego County committee.

Times staff writers Dan Morain and Nancy Vogel contributed to this report from Sacramento.


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