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CAGE Match: MN GOP Trying To Have It Both Ways On Gambling

Posted by Phoenix Woman on May 17, 2011

As two Republican lawmakers introduce a bill in Minnesota’s legislature to allow for gambling outside of tribal areas, and in a planned casino development in Minneapolis’ Block E, it looks as if the Republican Party of Minnesota is about to officially drop its long-held stance that gambling is icky.

Of course, the great thing about the Block E casino bill from the RPM’s point of view is that it allows them to screw over a key DFL constituency, Native Americans — who also happen to be a group that’s hated by much of the RPM’s constituency — while claiming to be all about helping out the poor neglected core cities from which they usually make political hay through bashing them. But a funny thing seems to be happening on the way to achieving the screwjob trifecta, and it looks like the Sutton family, which has long been associated with the anti-gambling group CAGE, may be trying to have it both ways:

The official news, in a Saturday disclosure dutifully reported that night by the Star Tribune’s Hot Dish blog was that GOP chairman stepping down from board of anti-gambling group. By the end of the weekend, Minnpost columnist  and pachyderm whisperer Cindy Brucato caught up with the failed burrito baron to deliver Tony Sutton resigns from anti-gambling group.


More to the point, I turn to Corey Sax’s conservative blog, a Stream with Bright Fish. In the post CAGE Board Member Bridget Sutton Emails to MNGOP Members, he looks at and shares epistles emailed by the other member of Clan Sutton. For while the failed burrito baron has abandoned CAGE and work with Public Affairs, Inc, the failed baroness remains on both the board and the public affairs firm:

Although Mr. Sutton has stepped away from CAGE so that he may be a more effective Chairman, according to the CAGE website his wife Bridget Sutton still remains on the CAGE board. In and of itself this is not a big deal, so long as she doesn’t use her husband’s influence for access to MN GOP assets in pushing CAGE’s agenda. However, there is circumstantial evidence from emails provided to me by a confidential source, that she may have done just [that]. My confidential source has forwarded me email communications sent by Bridget Sutton to Minnesota GOP delegates and elected officials urging them to oppose gambling legalization and to enforce the current Native American gaming monopoly. There are also emails from the Republican Party of Minnesota advocating the CAGE cause.

These emails should not serve as an accusation, but rather are intended to spark important ethical questions. Where did Mrs. Sutton get these email addresses? Did she get them from CAGE? If so, how did they get them? Did she get them from Mr. Sutton or from the MN GOP? If she did get these emails from Mr. Sutton or the MN GOP then does Mrs. Sutton’s participation on the CAGE board and her husband’s position in the party create a conflict of interest and a disservice to Minnesota Republicans?

What these emails do show is an effort by both the Republican Party of Minnesota and Mrs. Sutton to astroturf opposition to legalizing gambling. These emails provide Twenty-one different copy and paste letters provided by Mrs. Sutton that were disseminated to GOP leaders. Where did Mrs. Sutton get these emails and these contacts? Were the Republican leaders who forwarded these emails acting outside of the bounds of their elected positions? Perhaps the most important question of all, why would an organization that claims to defend free markets support a government backed monopoly for a special interest? I don’t have the answers to these questions, but hopefully the Republican Party of Minnesota will.

Go over there and read up.

Gee, I know that both Tony and Bridget Sutton need jobs, now that the Coopers have kicked them out of the Baja Sol disaster, but this is ridiculous.

UPDATE: Co-blogger Charles reminds me in the comments thread that this is awfully similar to the shakedown scam Jack Abramoff pulled against his Indian tribe clients.

(Crossposted to Renaissance Post.)

Posted in Minnesota | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

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