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Ethics Probe Sought for AG

20 April 2005

Las Vegas Sun

SAN FRANCISCO, California -- A Sonoma County community group asked a state ethics commission Tuesday to probe campaign contributions Attorney General Bill Lockyer accepted from backers of an Indian casino he regulates and once opposed.

In a complaint to the Fair Political Practices Commission, the Alexander Valley Association alleged that the contributions influenced Lockyer's decisions about the River Rock Casino.

A spokesman for Lockyer denied the allegation.

Lockyer opposed the casino in 2002 and questioned the legal status of the Dry Creek Rancheria band of Pomo Indians.

Lockyer's legal interpretation that the casino, which operates under a compact with the state, was illegal would have affected Indian gambling statewide if it had stood.

But he retracted his legal opinion two days later, saying the issue needed more study, and he never issued a final opinion. Nor did anything come of his efforts to halt construction of the casino housed in a circus tent-like structure overlooking the valley's scenic vineyards 75 miles north of San Francisco.

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