LARAMIE — Advertising reports made with the Wyoming Secretary of State’s Office have revealed the Northern Arapaho Tribe as the only funder behind the Wyoming Public Policy Center, an advocacy group that popped up at the end of 2018 to lobby against the expansion of gambling in the state.
The filing also lists Northern Arapaho Business Council co-chairman Al Addison as the group’s primary “association representative.”
The filings reveal the tribe’s casino has donated $80,500 to the groups since the end of 2018. Lobbyists for the group reported $61,000 in expenditures.
With $36 million in total gambling revenues in 2018, the Northern Arapaho Tribe’s three casinos, led by the Wind River Hotel & Casino outside Riverton, have become the tribe’s chief economic engine in the last decade.
The Northern Arapaho remain the only tribe in the U.S. to operate a gambling operation without a statewide gaming compact, which shares some revenues with the state.
Since the lobbying group was created, the Wyoming Public Policy Center has focused on killing legislation that would create off-reservation competition to the Wind River Hotel & Casino.
During the 2019 legislative session and subsequent interim discussions, the lobbying group had successfully hidden its backers until Monday.
The group has mostly ignored the efforts of legislators and reporters to reveal the identity of the group that’s bought thousands of dollars worth of Facebook ads in the past seven months.
In January, a spokesman for the group did respond to an email from the Laramie Boomerang, saying that the “organization was created by private citizens to maintain a watchful eye on Cheyenne in order to oppose any expansion of the size and scope of government.”
However, the new filings reveal that the organization has been propelled by its government-run gambling operation that’s been masquerading as a libertarian advocacy group interested only in small government.
By Daniel Bendtsen
Laramie Boomerang Via Wyoming News Exchange