Column: Obama administration takes action for gaming tribes

"Obama doesn't mention casinos when he talks about Indians. But in recent months, the administration made several decisions that help Indian gambling interests.

In September, Echo Hawk approved two casinos far from tribes' reservations. One would be near the Sleep Train Amphitheatre in Yuba County. Another would be off Highway 99 in Madera.

In June, the administration sided with the Rincon Band of Luiseño Indians in San Diego County, urging that the U.S. Supreme Court let stand an appellate court ruling barring the state from collecting anything resembling taxes in exchange for allowing tribes to operate slot machines.

Morgan wouldn't discuss casino plans, except to say that economic development is a right. She also would not say whether Wortman is a financial backer, and he didn't return my phone call. However, in 2008, one of Tejon's Washington lobby firms filed a statement in which it named Wortman as helping pay the lobbying costs.

Gambling and politics often mix. Wortman donates to Republicans, including Obama's 2008 opponent, John McCain. Still, Obama is smart to support tribes. Casino tribes regularly spend six- and seven-figure sums on campaigns."

Get the Story:
Dan Morain: Obama goes to bat for state's gambling tribes (The Sacramento Bee 1/5)