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AG: Wisconsin Tribal Records Should Stay Secret

26 February 2004

MILWAUKEE, Wisconsin – As reported by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: "Indian casino financial records collected by the state should remain secret, according to Attorney General Peg Lautenschlager, a stance hailed by tribal leaders but criticized by news media officials and casino opponents.

"Confidentiality was a condition of getting the tribes to provide financial details that the state needs to police the casinos, Lautenschlager wrote in a formal opinion dated Feb. 13.

"It's more important for the state to be able to regulate casinos than to let the public see the records, Lautenschlager's opinion says.

"…Assistant Attorney General Maureen Flanagan said the state was forced to accept the confidentiality because the tribes are sovereign nations and not necessarily bound by state statutes, including the open records law.

"The secrecy granted by Gov. Jim Doyle and former Gov. Tommy G. Thompson was part of casino deals that included multimillion-dollar payments to the state

"…Allowing public scrutiny of the financial records became even more crucial with the new agreements because of the large impact on state finances, said James Pepelnjak, an attorney for the Journal Sentinel. The newspaper sought the attorney general's opinion after the state denied a request for the casino audits in July…"

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