A judge has sided with the Seminole Tribe of Florida by rejecting a motion seeking to block the tribe’s plans for establishing a casino in the Jacksonville area.
As CasinoGamesPro previously reported, casino operator Las Vegas Sands Corp. has started the initiative that would provide local voters with the chance whether to give the green light to pari-mutuel operators in the northern part of the state to add casino games to their existing operations. If approved, the measure would pave the way for Las Vegas-style casinos to establish in the area.
The political committee that supports the proposed constitutional amendment, Florida Voters in Charge, is doing everything possible to meet the February 1st, 2022 deadline to roll out a petition backed with a total of 900,000 signatures to the local authorities in order to see the measure included in the 2022 ballot.
The committee started a legal action by filing a lawsuit in Leon County circuit court alleging individuals, businesses and a committee associated with the Seminole Tribe of trying to obstruct the efforts to gather petition-backing signatures. That is why Florida Voters in Charge asked Angela Dempsey, a Leon County Circuit Judge, to issue a temporary injunction that would prevent the alleged interference associated with the attempts to block local residents to vote on the above-mentioned proposal.
However, Judge Demsey decided not to grant a temporary injunction. She also scheduled another hearing on the defendants’ motion seeking the dismissal of the case, with the hearing set to take place on December 10th.
Florida Voters in Charge’s Signature-Gathering Initiative Intimidated by the Tribe, Lawsuit Claims
The legal action alleges that a number of individuals and organizations acting on behalf of the Seminole Tribe of Florida had aggressively tried to intimidate and harass individuals who were trying to obtain the number of signatures necessary to place a citizen initiative on the 2022 ballot of the state. The allegations in the lawsuit also claim that parties associated with the Native American nation are paying off some of the petition circulators to make them quit working and leave the state.
The lawsuit has constituted Kara Owens, Marc Jacoby, Standing Up for Florida Inc., Let the Voters Decide LLC and Cornerstone Solutions Florida LLC as defendants in the legal action.
As mentioned above, Florida Voters in Charge is required to submit 891,589 valid signatures to the state by February 1st, 2021 but it has to finish collecting the signatures by the end of December because county election supervisors need some time to process them.
At the hearing that took place on December 8th, the attorney representing the local political committee behind the proposed constitutional amendment told Judge Dempsey that it was a matter of emergency to make the Seminole Tribe stop what it is doing as part of its efforts to prevent the necessary number of signatures to be obtained by the end of the month.
On the other hand, the defendants’ lawyers argue that the Judge should dismiss the case. They claim that Florida Voters in Charge were fundamentally trying to silence the ones speaking against them with complaints that did not really identify who the people involved in the interferences were, and throwing only vague allegations on the Seminole Tribe of Florida.
According to the registry of the state Division of Election, a total of 230,062 signatures had been submitted by Florida Voters in Charge as of December 8th, surpassing the number required for the Florida Supreme Court to issue a review of the ballot initiative’s wording.