Glendale bankrolls lawmakers' bid to join casino fray - East Valley Tribune: Arizona

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Glendale bankrolls lawmakers' bid to join casino fray

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Posted: Thursday, October 28, 2010 8:00 pm

A dozen state legislators are trying to intercede in the legal fight over whether the Tohono O'odham Nation gets to build a casino adjacent to Glendale.

But they're not paying their own way.

The lawmakers, all Republicans, contend the U.S. Department of Interior erred when it granted the tribe permission to make the property part of the reservation. That is a necessary precursor to the plans for the casino.

Attorney Brian Bergin said his clients do not believe that the city of Glendale and the Gila River Indian Community, both of which have filed suit to stop the annexation, have the same interests as lawmakers who want to stop the spread of gaming in Arizona. He said they want U.S. District Court Judge David Campbell to let them become co-challengers.

Bergin admitted, though, that his legal fees are being paid by Glendale, which would get additional political backing for its lawsuit. But he said there is nothing irregular about that.

The odds of Campbell agreeing to the motion could prove slim.

On Thursday, the judge rejected a similar motion Bergin, also with Glendale funding, had previously filed on behalf of Sen. Russell Pearce, R-Mesa.

"Sen. Pearce does not speak for the state of Arizona, or the Arizona Legislature as a whole,'' Campbell wrote. And he disagreed with Bergin's contention that others need to join the legal action to ensure it is properly prosecuted.

"The existing parties have ample incentive and more than sufficient resources to litigate the legality of Department of Interior's decision fully,'' the judge wrote.

A 1986 law allows the Tohono O'odham to purchase land away from its reservation to compensate for the flooding of the San Lucy District located near Gila Bend. It also permits the tribe to seek reservation status for the land.

Tohono officials said the casino, the closest to much of the West Valley communities of Glendale, Peoria and the Sun Cities, will generate jobs.

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