Jeff Brandes calls for investigation into Seminole Tribe over petition blocking, intimidation
Image via AP.

Seminole Guitar Hotel
Brandes was the lone holdout in the Senate when lawmakers ratified the Compact.

Sen. Jeff Brandes is calling for an investigation into the Seminole Tribe and its vendors after accusations it is trying to strongarm its way to blocking rival constitutional amendments.

The St. Petersburg Republican, who was the lone holdout in the Senate in May when the Legislature ratified the 2021 Gaming Compact between Florida and the Seminole Tribe, issued his call after reports that the Tribe and its allies were paying operatives to bully, intimidate and harass Florida voters in an attempt to stymie ballot initiatives against gaming expansion. POLITICO first reported the “gaming turf war” on Monday.

“While the Seminole Tribe clearly is worried about Floridians having a voice in the expansion of gaming, it is inexcusable to condone these tactics that have voters concerned for their safety and legitimate petition gatherers fearing for their safety and their job,” Brandes said in a statement.

The Senator on Friday addressed his call to state attorneys across Florida.

“As a Constitutionalist, I believe the Seminole Tribe is actively and illegally denying people of their right to have their voice heard through the ballot amendment process,” he continued. “I have found that if it looks like voter intimidation, smells like voter intimidation, it’s likely voter intimidation.”

The Tribe is facing a lawsuit from Las Vegas Sands, which accuses the Tribe of “tortious interference with business relationships,” including paying off petition gatherers who are part of the casino company’s gaming amendment campaign.

Brandes’ call comes a week after a federal judge in Washington threw out the entirety of the Compact, an unexpected move that brought the Tribe’s sportsbook operation to a halt. Also Friday, an appeals court denied the Tribe’s emergency motion for a stay pending appeal in the sports betting case.

“The Seminole Tribe is aware of today’s Appeals Court decision and is carefully considering the steps it will take as a result. Despite the decision, the Seminole Tribe looks forward to a hearing from the Appeals Court based on the appeal previously filed by the Tribe and an expected appeal by the U.S. Department of Justice,” the Tribe said in a statement.

Renzo Downey

Renzo Downey covers state government for Florida Politics. After graduating from Northwestern University in 2019, Renzo began his reporting career in the Lone Star State, covering state government for the Austin American-Statesman. Shoot Renzo an email at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @RenzoDowney.


2 comments

  • Alex

    December 5, 2021 at 3:09 pm

    Isn’t this the loser that wants to override the will of the voters on minimum wage and pay kids less than the constitutionally mandated $15?

  • JVP

    December 6, 2021 at 8:25 am

    Yesterday I had a run in with a woman who was getting signatures on the gambling topic during an outdoor holiday craft fair in St. Cloud. So obnoxious. She burst out yelling, “Let’s Go Brandon”. I asked her to show me her license as per Fl Statutes.. She said she wasn’t getting “petition signatures” (she was getting signatures), and that she had freedom of speech. All this while backing away. She disappeared in 5 seconds flat. I feel bad for the poor young man who was partnered with her. He seemed like a nice guy… Kudos to Senator Brandes.

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