In Arizona, Governor Doug Ducey is asking a US District Court to block or severely limit efforts by the Tohono O’Odham Nation to question his staff over their opposition to a proposed Phoenix-area casino.
According to a report from the Daily News-Sun newspaper, the Tohono O’Odham Nation currently holds a Class II license at its Glendale gaming venue but wants Class III certification so that it may offer slots and table games such as blackjack and poker. This requires approval from the Arizona Department Of Gaming, which is holding out due to a belief that the tribe effectively committed fraud more than a decade ago by concealing plans to open another casino at the time voters approved a new gaming compact.
In response, the tribe filed a motion that seeks to discover the basis for the belief taken by the governor at the time of the 2002 public vote that there would be no expansion of gaming in the area by questioning the current governor’s staff.
However, Ducey has initiated an action asking US District Court Judge David Campbell to block the move as some of the information is protected by attorney-client privilege. The Republican also declared that the tribe has no right to probe into internal discussions that took place within the governor’s office even if these did not involve legal advice.
“Any disclosure of internal discussions regarding the subpoena topics would have a chilling effect on future deliberations within the state executive branch,’” read a statement from the governor’s lawyers. “The executive branch and especially the governor’s office frequently have to make difficult decisions that affect state funding, public safety and relations with various tribes located within Arizona. As a result, the executive branch must have the ability to openly discuss options and weigh recommendations without fear these internal communications become public for unnecessary scrutiny.”
In his argument, Ducey additionally contends that his staff should not be questioned as he has been governor only since early-2015 while the first gaming compacts were signed in 1993 by Governor Fife Symington with successor Jane Hull approving later revisions.
“There have been several different governors over the course of the time these negotiations took place,” read the statement. “So which governor’s “beliefs” or “understandings” is the Tohono O’Odham Nation looking for?”
The tribe is seeking to convince Campbell to effectively order the state to grant it a Class III gaming license while the original subpoena will give the tribe permission to question the governor’s staff from Wednesday.