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Nebraska Tribes Stop Using Paid Petition Circulators

23 June 2006

OMAHA, Nebraska – (PRESS RELEASE) -- The coalition of Native American tribal governments in Nebraska circulating the petition proposing to allow casino-style gaming for economic and community development purposes has chosen to discontinue the use of paid petition circulators. Recent controversies arising from the methods used by paid circulators employed by other petition sponsors contributed significantly to the tribes' decision, including reports of circulators offering to pay or give prizes to voters for signing petitions. An opposition campaign targeting an unrelated petition has also led to a hostile environment in which all petition circulators have been identified as villainous out-of-towners intent on misusing personal information required on the petitions.

The tribes have been working with FieldWorks LLC, a reputable political consulting firm based in Washington, DC, to hire, train and supervise the paid petition circulators. FieldWorks provided professional oversight of these paid circulators, who were paid hourly wages for their work. Although all of the paid circulators hired by FieldWorks were local residents, many were treated disrespectfully by law enforcement officials, property owners, and others. Regrettably, this behavior suggested that the tribes' paid circulators were likely being confused with those circulating more controversial petitions sponsored by out-of-state special interest groups.

"This issue is too important to the tribes and to Nebraska for it to be tarnished by the deceptive tactics used by other petition circulators and paid civic activists," said Ben Thompson with Affirmative Public Policy Solutions, the Omaha-based consulting firm hired by the tribes to organize the initiative campaign. "Members of the public have been misled and are understandably frustrated by what they perceive to be a misappropriation of their right to exercise the initiative power."

The tribes will continue to use volunteer petition circulators in an effort to meet the July 7th deadline for turning in signatures to the Secretary of State. Many of the volunteer circulators are tribal members that more fully understand the initiative proposal and can better explain it to potential signers. Thompson stated, "We hope the exclusive use of volunteer petition circulators will increase the level of respect accorded to them as they exercise the first amendment rights shared by all citizens of Nebraska."

Affirmative Public Policy Solutions is a consultancy whose business is helping public and private entities achieve extraordinary results in public policy.

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