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Indian Tribes

A coalition of two Southern California Indian tribes, called First Americans for a Better California, is running its first television commercial of the recall campaign, responding to candidate Arnold Schwarzenegger's ads attacking Indian gaming. Group officials did not respond to requests for comment. It's unclear how much the group will spend on this ad, but it has paid for $1.5 million in air time for recall-election-related commercials.

September 30, 2003

Title: Unknown

Producer: Unknown

Script: Mark Macarro, above, tribal chairman of the Pechanga Band of Luiseno Mission Indians, which operates a large hotel-casino in Temecula, is seen speaking outdoors facing the camera as upbeat music plays in the background.

"Southern California tribes have begun to take their legal place in a political process that we've been barred from for so long. During our long battle, some elected officials have listened to our plight and have helped us," Macarro says.

"Now we are able to help them in return," he continues. "But as so many politicians have done before, Mr. Schwarzenegger has chosen to condemn our participation for his own political ends. We ask you to reject his untruthful attack and continue to support our legal rights and active citizenship. Thank you."

Accuracy: This ad is a response to a series of television commercials by Arnold Schwarzenegger that feature a spinning slot machine.

In those ads, chwarzenegger says Indian tribes have spent $120 million trying to influence California politics, accuses other candidates of "pandering" to the Indians and says that tribes that own casinos are not paying "their fair share" to the state.

Whether those charges are an "untruthful attack" as this ad says is a matter of interpretation. A number of tribes have become very active players in California politics. Altogether, Indian tribes have spent more than $11 million to support Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante and state Sen. Tom McClintock in the recall campaign and, to a much smaller degree, Gov. Gray Davis.

The amount that tribes pay the state is set by agreements called compacts that are negotiated.

California's compacts, negotiated after voters overwhelmingly approved an initiative to allow casinos on reservations, do not require Indian casinos to give money to the state's general fund as some tribal casinos in other states do. .

Analysis: The Pechanga and other tribes were angered by Schwarzenegger's critical advertisements. Who the next governor is matters to the tribes in part because compacts limit major tribes to a maximum of 2,000 slot machines. The Pechanga Band wants the number of slot machines to be determined by market demand, not imposed by state government.

Schwarzenegger and Davis have both said that in return for expansion, they would insist that the tribes share revenue with the state. Bustamante and McClintock oppose that position.


Compiled by Times staff writer Jeffrey L. Rabin

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