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Governor to Return Donation

Associated Press

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger will return a $50,000 donation from a partner in a tribal casino project after Associated Press raised questions about the governor’s pledge to limit political contributions, an aide said Wednesday.

Schwarzenegger promised during the 2003 recall campaign not to accept campaign contributions from groups that negotiate directly with his office -- specifically identifying tribal gambling as one of those special interests.

Last week at a birthday celebration fundraising event in Yuba City, the governor received a $50,000 contribution from Yuba County Entertainment LLC, a partner in a proposed hotel-casino development south of Olivehurst.

Although company officials said Wednesday that the donation was intended to support the governor’s political agenda in the upcoming special election -- not the casino project -- an aide to Schwarzenegger said the money would be returned promptly.

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“After reviewing the nature of the business and realizing there is a connection to a potential Indian gaming location, we feel it is most appropriate to return the funds,” said Marty Wilson, who oversees fundraising for Schwarzenegger’s California Recovery Team.

Alan Waskin, senior vice president and general counsel of Yuba County Entertainment, said:

“The purpose of the donation was not to primarily back the governor, but to back his initiatives that we think are important to the business community.”

The company’s tribal partners, the Enterprise Rancheria, formerly known as the Estom Yumeka Maidu tribe, has been trying for several years to get federal and state approval for the resort project.

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The casino plans are before federal regulators and need their approval to move forward. If federal approval is given, the tribe would also need to negotiate a gambling compact with the governor’s office to open the casino.


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