Lawsuit accuses Seminole Tribe of disturbing tactics in attempt to stop vote on gambling expansion

A new lawsuit is alleging the Seminole Tribe is spending million to try and stop voters from deciding whether to expand gaming in Florida.

HOLLYWOOD, Fla. – A new lawsuit is alleging the Seminole Tribe is spending millions to try and stop voters from deciding whether to expand gaming in Florida.

The lawsuit claims strong arm tactics are being used to try and stop petitioners from getting names.

The group Standing Up for Florida is airing television ads telling voters not to add gambling expansion to next November’s ballot.

That group is being sued by those working to get gambling on the ballot, a group financed by the Las Vegas Sands casino.

The lawsuit alleges Standing Up for Florida intimidates and harasses the actual petition gatherers, that the group is, “ripping clipboards out of their hands…forcibly grabbing stacks of them and running, screaming at voters to ensure they wouldn’t interact…”

The suit shows texts from recruiters offering thousands of dollars to the petition gatherers to switch sides and work on behalf of the Seminole Tribe, who’s gambling monopoly would be threatened by a vote to expand Florida gaming.

Campaign finance records show the tribe is the money behind the effort, funding the group with more than $10 million.

Florida State Sen. Jeff Brandes is now asking Florida’s State Attorneys to investigate.

“They’re engaging in some type of harassment,” said Brandes. “See if people gathering petitions constitutionally as they are required and hired to do are being harassed by another group that doesn’t want them to gather those petitions "

Rick Asnani is the man who is chair of that Seminole Tribe-funded group. He is also the founder of Cornerstone Solutions, which paid all of its money to stop the petition signings.

Asnani calls the lawsuit a nuisance.

In an email to Local 10 News, he explained, “the people coming for work, go through steps to verify that they’re not under contract with a competitor.”

As for the allegations of physical aggression, he said they are, “not true,” saying he has, “no knowledge of incidents of violence.”


About the Author:

Glenna Milberg joined Local 10 News in September 1999 to report on South Florida's top stories and community issues. She also serves as co-host on Local 10's public affairs broadcast, "This Week in South Florida."