The state is owning up to sharing documents that they shouldn’t had after admitting minutes of the Tohono O’odham Nation were provided to a rival tribe. The documents were subpoenaed in the hopes of being used by the state to convince a federal judge that the Tohono O’odham Nation was guilty of fraud, with the information to be used in the pending lawsuit against the tribe which had been filed by Bergin last year once he refused to give the tribe a Class III certification. These documents were then shared with the legal representatives of the Salt River Pima Maricopa Indian Community which ended up in the hands of the media.
A spokesperson for the Arizona Department of Gaming told The Peoria Times that at some point the lawyers gave the documents to whomever. According to the spokesperson, the minutes are considered of public record and they would have been released at some point anyways.
However, the director of the department, Daniel Bergin stated that he was not expecting the information to end up with the media. The spokesperson stated that the information is all public record but it was not the intention of Bergin to see the information used except for a legal analysis.
The minutes of the meeting were received by Capitol Media Services and revealed that the tribe were planning on creating a casino in the Phoenix area as far back as 2002, with the rival tribe Salt River claiming that the project is undermining the promises made to voters about creating new developments in the urban areas.
Proposition 202 was approved by voters back in 2002, which gave authorization to the state to begin signing Class III gaming compacts with tribes. An agreement was signed by the Tohono O’odham Nation but this agreement did not ban the tribe from trying to pursue a new casino.
In 2009, the Tohono O’odham Nation announced plans for a casino to be created in Glendale which is a suburb of Phoenix. It would take several battles both politically and legally, including run-ins with the Salt River tribe, until the Desert Diamond West Valley Casino and Resort would open late last year.
Despite the casino opening, the state will not provide certification for the venue under a Class III gaming compact, alleging the tribe of fraud. Because of this, the tribe decided to sue the department headed by Bergin, which resulted in the release of the documents.