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Reality Check: Groups tries to curb casino project

MADISON, Wis. - The casino would be 100 miles away, yet a mysterious group is trying to convince Madison that a Kenosha proposal is a bad idea.

The stakes are high for the Menominee Tribe as they try to get final approval for the plan in southeastern Wisconsin. But an interest group who doesn't disclose its donors is waging a media campaign against it.

"A 2012 Wisconsin Policy Research Institute study showed a new Kenosha casino would shift jobs and revenue out of Milwaukee," a narrator in the ad says.

"Gov. Walker, how is losing 3,000 jobs in Milwaukee going to move Wisconsin forward?" asks a man in the ad.

A study done last year by a conservative think tank claims that the gambling market in Wisconsin is saturated and any new casinos built in the state wouldn't create new jobs or revenue, but rather shift them from one area to another.

But the study does not indicate exactly how many jobs could be lost. The Menominee Tribe says they'll create about 3,000 jobs in Kenosha and the city of Milwaukee, and the Potawatomi claim they'll lose the same number. The Bureau of Indian Affairs doesn't buy it though, saying their evidence showed no long-term detrimental effect on the Potawatomi.

"Plus the Kenosha casino project has a history of corruption and scandal," a narrator says in the ad.

Reality Check: Groups tries to curb casino project

News3 found that one of the previous developers of the project was indicted for funneling illegal donations to try to get approval for the casino and another local official resigned after taking bribes. Ultimately that casino plan was denied and a new plan was resubmitted by the tribe.

"One of their past developers had ties to the mob," a woman says in the ad.

"And they already owe outside interests millions," another man says in the ad.

News3 finds those claims need clarification. The ad is reaching way back here, to the year 2000 and the campaign to get a casino in Kenosha then. An investor in the project was then reported to have done business in the 1980s with someone allegedly involved in organized crime. That investor is not involved in the new project, nor is any of the other people who have had issues in the past few years.

Does the tribe owe money? They will if the project is approved. They'll pay around $40 million to local and Alabama companies for the land and $12 million to a Connecticut tribe that invested money in the project previously.

What we don't know is who is paying for this ad. Enough Already Wisconsin is a nonprofit group not required to disclose its donors. Executive Director Brian Nemoir won't say whether the Potawatomi or other tribes are among its backers, to "prevent hostilities" toward those who support them.

A report this week in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel said the name of the Potawatomi's lobbyist was discovered in the digital footprint of some Enough Already press releases. Nemoir said he'd simply modified a document provided by the lobbyist and denied any other connection to the tribe.

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