Saturday, March 17, 2007

Rep Mike Rogers (R-MI) reintroduces gaming moratorium bill

Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Michigan) introduced a bill on Thursday to bar approval of new gaming compacts ...H.R.1555 would bar the Interior Department from approving any tribal-state compacts for two years. The bill was referred to the House Natural Resources Committee ... Rogers introduced a similar bill in the 109th Congress ...

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Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Dykema Gossett PLLC (Ilitch law firm) third largest contributor to Senator Stabenow’s re-election committee.

Dykema Gossett PLLC (Ilitch law firm) third largest contributor to Senator Stabenow’s re-election committee.

According to the Center for Responsive Politics, the collective attorneys at the Dykema Gossett PLLC law firm made up the third largest contributor to Senator Debbie Stabenow’s re-election committee. Dykema Gossett is one of the primary law firms retained by Marian Ilitch, Michael Malik and their various gaming related affiliates. Dykema Gossett helped negotiate $1.1 billion in acquisition financing Marian Ilitch required to buyout her MotorCity Casino partners.

Attorney’s at Dykema Gossett who provide counsel to Ilitch/Malik entities include R. Lance Boldrey, Jason Hanselman, Richard McLellan and Len Wolfe. Boldrey previously was counsel to Governor John Engler and negotiated the State’s

Charlotte Beach land claims settlement with the Bay Mills Indian Tribe. That’s the agreement Senator Stabenow has championed in order to allow a Port Huron Casino Resort for the Bay Mills Tribe.

The Ilitch Family and Michael J. Malik, contributed more than $117,000.00 to committees supporting Senator Stabenow’s 2006 re-election. Together Ilitch, Malik and their Dykema Gossett attorneys contributed more than $155,000 to Stabenow’s re-election.

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Deborah Ann Stabenow (D)*


Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Ilitch & Troha families responsible for 70% of the money Rep Don Young (R-AK) took in on his best fundraising day of the entire 2006 campaign

Alaska’s only Member of the House of Representatives Don Young had his best fundraising day of the 2006 campaign on May 23, 2005, as reported by PoliticalMoneyLine for Congressional Quarterly (see chart below). On that day, Young’s political committee made $58.000.00. The bulk of the money came from two families – each making aggressive moves to expand the gambling operations that are part of their vast privately held empires.

The Detroit, Michigan based family of Mike & Marian Ilitch and their associates contributed at least $18,000 that day (9 individual contributions). Ilitch Holdings include Little Caesars Enterprises, Detroit Tigers, Detroit Red Wings and MotorCity Casino. To expand their empire of restaurant and entertainment holdings they have been aggressively pursuing (bankrolling) “off-reservation” gambling operations with tribes in Michigan, New York and California for more than a decade.

Richard Alcalde, a principal lobbyist with the Potomac Partners, D.C., and then a new lobbyist for Ilitch Family interests was one of the 58 contributors to Rep. Young that day too.

The Kenosha, Wisconsin based family of Dennis Troha and their associates contributed $22,000 (11 individual contributions). The Troha Family fortune was built in trucking and Troha is legendary for his union busting activities. Their companies include John Houston Corporation & Transport Venture (JHT) and Auto Truck Transport Corporation (ATC). He too has been aggressively bankrolling Indian casino projects including an $808 million casino with the Menominee Tribe.

Troha was indicted on March 1, 2007 and charged with illegally funneling $100,000 in contributions through his children to the campaign of Gov. Jim Doyle and other political funds and then lying about it to the FBI; activity said to be an attempt to influence approval of the Menominee Tribe casino.

Together the Ilitch and Troha Families and their closest associates contributed $40,000 to Rep. Young’s committee -- 70% of the total money raised on Young’s biggest fundraising day of the 2006 election cycle. The largest single checks ($2,100 each) came from Ilitch Family members and Michael J. Malik, Sr., their casino syndication associate.

Young, is currently the ranking Republican on the House Natural Resources Committee since Rep. Richard Pombo failed to win re-election.

Rep. Don Young (R-AK)

Top 10 Contributions by Date From Individuals

2006 Election Cycle
(as reported by filer)










































From PoliticalMoneyLine for Congressional Quarterly

Casino developer indicted on charges he laundered political contributions via his family

March 1, 2007

For the Trohas, political giving is a family affair

By Daniel Byce

The family that pays-to-play together stays together.

Or so it seems with the Troha clan of Kenosha.

Charged Thursday with illegally funneling campaign cash to Gov. Jim Doyle and others through relatives, multimillionaire Dennis Troha has set a pattern - along with his extended family - of dropping numerous hefty contributions all at once.

On Oct. 6, for instance, eight members of Troha's family gave a total of $50,000 to the state Democratic Party's federal account. The individual donations ranged from $5,000 to $10,000.

Democratic Party officials had no comment late Thursday. But earlier this week, spokeswoman Jessica Erickson sent an e-mail statement defending the donations.

"I . . . want to emphasize that there is nothing unusual about different family members supporting the Democratic Party or a campaign, or for contributions to come in at the same time," Erickson wrote.

Democratic Party Chairman Joe Wineke repeated that mantra early Thursday, saying he knew nothing of these Troha donations until recently. But he added that he was sure that lots of families make a habit of donating large sums to the party, all on the same date.

So would he please name names?

"I don't do our financial stuff," Wineke said. He added, "I don't even know Dennis Troha."

Everybody does now.

Actually, there is one family that earlier bundled its donations and dropped them off at the party one day several years ago. Yes, seven members of the Troha dynasty did the same thing back on Oct. 20, 2002, chipping in a total of $35,000 to the Democratic Party's federal coffers, campaign records show.

Thursday's indictment cites five of these seven contributions as being possibly illegal.

Troha is accused of using a business venture called Johnson Houston Partners to provide money to family members for political donations so he could circumvent campaign contribution limits. His attorney, Franklyn Gimbel, defended Troha's actions.

"I just don't think what he did was illegal," Gimbel said.

The Troha family practice of jointly giving large sums doesn't end with the state Democratic Party. Troha's family and business associates also gave:

• Seven donations of $2,100 each - the maximum in a congressional primary - to U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, a Janesville Republican, on Nov. 30, 2005. Earlier that year, eight members of the Troha clan gave $2,000 each to Ryan over a two-day period.

Overall, Ryan, who has gone to bat for the Kenosha casino proposal with federal regulators, has received more than $50,000 from the family since 2001.

"The recent indictments surrounding the Troha family contributions to another campaign are very troubling," Ryan said in a statement. "I am anxious to learn the results of this investigation. Once all of the facts become available, if any contribution to the Ryan for Congress campaign is found to be legally in question, I will take appropriate and corrective action."

• Seven donations of $1,000 each to the Assembly Democratic Campaign Committee on March 21, 2005. Since January 2003, Troha's family and business associates have pumped $35,000 into this fund.

Assembly Minority Leader Jim Kreuser, a Kenosha Democrat who oversees the fund, was not available for comment.

• Twelve donations totaling $17,500 on Aug. 23 to U.S. Rep. James Oberstar, a Minnesota Democrat who was the ranking minority member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. Troha, who put his net worth at $33.7 million in 2005, made most of his money off his trucking business, which he sold in July.

The congressman's staff referred questions to a campaign aide, who could not be reached for comment.

• Seven donations for a total of $14,000 on May 23, 2005, to U.S. Rep. Don Young, an Alaska Republican who was then the vice chairman of the House Resources Committee, which was considering a bill that would have restricted off-reservation casinos. Young also was the House Transportation chairman.

Alana Petersen, the political director for Young's campaign, did not return calls Thursday.

Of course, this money pales by comparison with the dollars given to Doyle, who has the final say over the Kenosha casino. In all, Troha's family has given him $200,000 since January 2002, including $51,500 on June 30, 2005.

Doyle campaign staffer Anson Kaye said Thursday that the second-term Democrat would return campaign contributions from Troha if the businessman is convicted.

So we're not talking about the full $200,000 - just the contributions that would be part of any plea deal or conviction?

"No question about it," Kaye agreed.

Daniel Bice can be contacted by phone at (414) 223-5468 or e-mail at

Detroit-based Barwest Gaming taught Schwarzenegger aide Andrea Hoch all she needs to know on Native American history of the Great Mohave Desert

Andrea Hoch, Governor Schwarzenegger’s legal affairs secretary was asked by the Chairman of the Assembly Governmental Organization Committee to clarify circumstances and details surrounding gaming compacts for the Big Lagoon Rancheria (Humboldt County) and Los Coyotes Band of Cahuilla and Cupeno Indians (San Diego County) prior to a June 28, 2006 hearing on the two agreements.

Among other things Hoch was asked to (1) provide background on any other Northern California sites that were considered for Big Lagoon; and (2) respond to charges that the two tribes in relocating hundreds of miles from opposite corners of the state to Barstow are encroaching on ancestral territories of San Bernardino County based tribes.

It is interesting to note that in a run down of Northern California sites considered, Hoch gives the following as reasons several Northern California sites were abandoned:

  • In addition, another tribe may have had a claim to this site.”
  • and another tribe may have had historical claims to the area on which the site is located”
  • However, another tribe had been talking to Fortuna representatives about a site for a gaming facility in that city”

There is nothing certain or definitive about these possible ancestral claims or apparent historical ties to the land and yet they are given as reason enough for Big Lagoon Rancheria to abandon any further consideration of those particular sites. And in one case, since a tribe was already in talks with a particular City, Big Lagoon [Barwest] dismissed that site apparently not wanting to “butt-in.”

But when it came to butting-in on a Mohave Desert tribe, Barwest and its partners apparently didn’t think twice. And when Hoch was asked to respond to charges of tribal encroachment in the greater Barstow area, she dismisses similar claims by San Bernardino County tribes as unsubstantiated or inconsequential. Apparently Southern California tribes must meet a higher standard than Northern California tribes.

It’s unclear what qualifies Andrea Hoch as an expert on Native America history of the greater Mohave Desert as nothing in her resume would indicate a particular expertise in the field and she makes no references to appropriate state agencies like the Native American Heritage Commission or California’s academic and research institutions.

Instead, her arguments dismissing the ancestral claims of San Bernardino County tribes are a convenient parroting (cut and paste) of arguments used often by attorneys and PR representatives of Barwest LLC, the Detroit casino syndicators bankrolling and directing the Barstow twin casino resort plans for tribes from opposite corners of the state.

Hoch begins her response to then-Chairman Jerome Horton’s questions on encroachment concerns by stating:

We have given consideration to opponents' claims. Based on our information, no federally recognized tribe has sovereign or cultural interests in Barstow.' Further, though the opponents claim sovereign and cultural rights of the 'Serranos"' to Barstow, it is our understanding that there is no federally recognized Serrano entity.”

What Andrea Hoch selectively leaves out is that by “We” she means the Governor’s staff and Barwest attorneys; and by “our information” she means an elementary study commissioned by Barwest, and conveniently based on findings and understandings as known in the mid-20th Century, to make the points that Barwest wants to make. Truth be told, this section of Hoch’s letter (heck, maybe even the entire response letter) was originally drafted by Barwest attorneys.

Hoch’s limited knowledge about Native American history in Barstow comes directly from a study by Missoula, Montana based for-profit entity Historical Research Associates, Inc. (HRA). Barwest commissioned the study after Mohave Desert scholars failed to produce the report Barwest representatives wanted them to draft. HRA provides consulting services to developers and other public and private clients in the areas of cultural resource management, litigation support, and natural resource history. HRA has no record of expertise or experience in the Mohave Desert.

The fact that Andrea Hoch would fail to adequately entertain concerns of California’s regional tribes and yet rely solely and without question on a report by consultants based in Montana, outlined and paid for by the out-of-state proponents and investors in the proposed project, is insensitive to the Southern California Indian people involved and insulting to all Californians. This is not how progressive public policy decisions are made, and not what’s necessarily best for Californians, but rather how public policy benefiting special interests rules the day.

Andrea Hoch fails to solicit, entertain or consider scholarly information that presents a point of view different from the Barwest commissioned study; and failed to seek out any other independent scholarly sources or public agencies (Mohave River Valley Museum, BLM, DOI/National Parks Services in the Mohave Desert, Defense Department, Native American Heritage Commission, etc.) on the matter of greater Barstow area ancestral claims and local history.

Hoch failed to meet with and hear directly the claims of the Southern California Tribes involved.

It is near certain that neither Governor Schwarzenegger, Dan Kolkey, Pete Siggins, Andrea Hoch nor any other team of administration officials took field trips to investigate and verify what’s been represented about all three communities (Barstow, Los Coyotes Reservation/Warner Springs and Big Lagoon Rancheria/Trinidad) involved prior to concluding compact negotiations. It is doubtful Marian Ilitch has completed any similar series of field trips either.

What’s represented by Hoch in her letter is simply a one-sided view provided without question by the project’s advocates.

The picture below is of a monument marking the entrance to the Mohave River Valley Museum; a place one might visit on a field trip to the greater Barstow area organized by parties other than Barwest or Barstow Mayor Lawrence Dale.

You may want to review these related posts as well:

  • Casino developer’s representations biased; consultants “specialization” challenged

Monday, March 12, 2007

CREW - Official 13 count Ethics Complaint Includes Motor City Casino Syndicators

The 13-point complaint filed by the Center for Responsibility & Ethics in Washington (CREW) with the HOUSE Committee on Standards of Official Conduct against Rep Richard Pombo specifically calls out fundraising activity involving the Ilitch Family and Michael J. Malik, Sr under Point 12 of complaint - Dispensation of Special Favors.

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Casino approval would rest with Secretary of Interior

Cason said final approval is not guaranteed, noting that the casino would be 450 miles from the tribe's reservation and that the department was worried about the proliferation of off-reservation casinos. Sources in government say Kempthorne is behind the tough talk."I think Secretary Kempthorne is very appropriately and legitimately concerned a

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TVT has welcomed more than 178,000 unique vistors

TVT, founded in December 2006, has averaged more than 20,000 visitors annually. It is produced with the support of scores of individuals from coast-to-coast, each a volunteer citizen activist/jounalist, who review tips and compile the verifiable details and documents that are the hallmark of our content.

Since our first post, more than 178,000 visitors have accessed the details compiled uniquely at TVT.

The citizen activists behind TVT wish to extened a big "THANK YOU" to all those who have provided "tips" -- contributed pictures, documents, link suggestions, leads, reports, insight and comments. Your trust and confidence in TVT has allowed us to create a comprehensive resource that thousands of others -- including bloggers, journalists, Members of Congress and other local citizen activists around the country -- have come to rely upon.

We invite feedback and constructive comment and want you to know you are welcome to do that here in "comments" or by contacting us directly and confidentially via

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certainly must reads!

Ilitch has backed loosing sports teams and pizza, but casinos in Detroit? 10.09.06 ● Marian Ilitch #1 on "25 Most Powerful People" to Watch 2006” global gaming business o1.oo.o5 ● My Kingdom for a Casino Forbes 05.08.06 ● Big Lagoon’s casino dream awakens north coast journal 07.28.05 ● Shinnecocks launch legal claim to Hamptons land 06.16.05 ● Ilitch Plans to Expand Casino Empire 07.05.05 ● Ilitch outbids partners 04.14.05 ● Ilitch enmeshed in NY casino dispute 03.20.05 ● Marian Ilitch, high roller 03.20.05 ● MGM Mirage to Decide on Offer for Casino in Detroit 04.16.05 ● Secret deal for MotorCity alleged 02.15.05 ● Los Coyotes get new developer 02.08.05 Detroit casino figure to finance Barstow project 07.07.03 ● Indian Band trying to put casino in Barstow 06.04.03 Pizza matriarch takes on casino roles 10.23.02 ● Vanderbilt gets short straw in negotiations for a casino Lansing Journal 10.06.02 ● Indians aim to drive family from tribe in vicious dispute san diego union tribune 04.09.00 ●Malik owns 2000 Michigan Quarter Horse of the Year 01.01.00 ● Detroit Team to run Michigan’s newest Indian casino 05.23.99 Tiger ties tangle Marian Ilitch 04.29.99 ● Three investors must sell their Detroit casino interests 04.25.99 ● Partners’ cash revived election; They say money was crucial to Prop-E 04.25.99 Investors have troubled histories las vegas review journal 04.27.99 ● Investor served probation for domestic assault on 12 year old boy 04.25.99 Can a pair win a jackpot?: local men hope to... 03.17.97

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