In September, the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria donated $5 million to the campaign in support of Proposition 1, which would amend the state constitution to name abortion and contraception as rights. The Prop 1 campaign has raised approximately $11 million in total.
CalMatters reported that California’s lieutenant governor Eleni Kounalakis solicited the donation from the tribe, in her role as co-chairman of the Prop 1 campaign, and that the tribe asked if she would be more outspoken against Prop 27 in return for the donation. Kounalakis told CalMatters that she did not agree to the exchange.
The Graton Rancheria Indians have donated $30 million to the campaign to pass Prop 26, which would expand types of gambling allowed in Indian casinos, and to defeat Prop 27, which would legalize online gambling. The Graton Rancheria Indians own a casino in Rohnert Park, six miles south of Santa Rosa.
In April, the Sonoma County board of supervisors voted to oppose the Koi tribe’s proposal to build a casino. Ten days later, the county announced the opening of a comment period for a proposed expansion of the Graton Rancheria’s casino. In August, the Graton Rancheria Indians donated $3.5 million to the Sonoma County Public Library Foundation.
The campaign fund to support Prop 1 is the Atkins Ballot Measure Committee, controlled by the state Senate President pro Tempore Toni Atkins. Unlike donations to candidates, which are capped by law, donations to ballot measure committees are unlimited. Over the last five years, Atkins’s fund has taken in hundreds of donations from unions, businesses, and individuals, and given hundreds of thousands of dollars to campaigns, including to oppose the recalls of state senator Josh Newman in 2018 and governor Gavin Newsom in 2021.
The Graton Rancheria tribe has also donated approximately $2 million to state assembly and senate campaigns and to oppose the recall of governor Gavin Newsom.
– Cal Catholic exclusive by Mary Rose