- Legal States
Mike Johnson October 28, 2020 3 min read
Nebraska Anti-Gambling Campaign Mailer Elicits Rebuke from Warren Buffet
A campaign mailer used a photo of Warren Buffett with an inappropriate racial slogan which Mr. Buffett has since condemned.
Warren Buffet Says He Disavows Racial Wording in Campaign Mailer
Finance heavyweight and billionaire Warren Buffett has said that he had nothing to do with an “anti-Native American” with a campaign mailer from a group related to Gov. Pete Ricketts, the Omaha World-Herald reported.
Mr. Buffett found himself caught in the email exchange after the mailer had decided to use a photo of him, with the caption “It’s just a big loser for everyone,” and cautioning that a proposed project to “build” Indian casinos would be detrimental to the state as they [the tribes] would try to “avoid paying tax”.
While the email sent ripples quickly, Mr. Buffett, known for his business and financial nous, was quick to disavow it and argue back on Tuesday that while his personal position remained unchanged – i.e. he is still against the expansion of gambling in Nebraska – he found the email inappropriate and a “dog whistle” pulling on the strings of racial prejudice.
He assured that he would never have approved his photo to be associated with the slogan used in the email. The email was sent by Keep the Good Life Inc, which is a new organization fighting a trio of Initiatives, to name 429, 430, and 431, which all seek to allow Native American tribes to expand their sources of revenue at tribal-controlled racetracks.
Gov. Ricketts Supports the ‘Good Life’
Gov. Ricketts himself donated $250,000 to the group, according to the Omaha World-Herald. He himself has used stereotypes as “Indian casinos” and “Indian gambling interests” in the past to describe the potential development of Native American gaming sites.
Thankfully, though the ball is in the voters’ field, which means that they can still pass Initiative 429 successfully on the ballot and enact Constitutional reform to allow gambling at horse tracks.
As per Initiative 430, the state would be able to establish a controlling commission to be in charge for the oversight and regulation, and Initiative 432 will manage casino tax as well as divvy up the proceeds between public funds.
Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska has not been sitting idly by while the governor has ramped up his campaign against the legalization of gambling at race tracks. In fact, the tribe’s economic development offshoot – Ho-Chunk Inc. – has so far spent $4.3 million to help the signature-gathering campaign forge ahead.
Ho-Chunk CEO Lance Morgan commented on the mailer and column describing them both as tasteless and turning “Indians” in what he described as “the bad guys.” The governor’s office struck back against the criticism, arguing that the term was perfectly valid and even used in press.
Tribes Seek Their Own Interest Says Another Organization
Gambling with the Good Life Executive Director Pat Loontjer said that after seeing the amount spent by Ho-Chunk Inc., she was convinced that the tribe’s true motives had to do with “opening tribal casinos,” rather than boosting revenue at horse tracks by enabling casino-style gaming.
Gambling with Good Life has been actively raising funds, including a donation from Gov. Ricketts who allocated $100,000 to the organization. In the meantime, Keep the Good Life has raised $1.9 million in total.
Mr. Morgan did explain that the tribes would not gain exclusivity over anything related to gambling even if the initiatives were passed.
He seems to be right as per federal law passed in 1988, the tribes would still have to negotiate compacts with the state and come to terms with lawmakers before they can provide casino-style games as well as earmark casino revenues to state initiatives.