Nebraska Tribes Stop Using Paid Petition Circulators - Monday 26th of June 2006

OMAHA, Nebraska – The coalition of Native American tribal governments in Nebraska circulating the petition proposing to allow casino-style gaming for economic and community development purposes haschosen to discontinue the use of paid petition circulators. Recentcontroversies arising from the methods used by paid circulators employed byother petition sponsors contributed significantly to the tribes' decision,including reports of circulators offering to pay or give prizes to votersfor signing petitions. An opposition campaign targeting an unrelatedpetition has also led to a hostile environment in which all petitioncirculators have been identified as villainous out-of-towners intent onmisusing personal information required on the petitions.

The tribes have been working with FieldWorks LLC, a reputable politicalconsulting firm based in Washington, DC, to hire, train and supervise thepaid petition circulators. FieldWorks provided professional oversight ofthese paid circulators, who were paid hourly wages for their work. Althoughall of the paid circulators hired by FieldWorks were local residents, manywere treated disrespectfully by law enforcement officials, property owners,and others. Regrettably, this behavior suggested that the tribes' paidcirculators were likely being confused with those circulating morecontroversial petitions sponsored by out-of-state special interest groups.

"This issue is too important to the tribes and to Nebraska for it to betarnished by the deceptive tactics used by other petition circulators andpaid civic activists," said Ben Thompson with Affirmative Public PolicySolutions, the Omaha-based consulting firm hired by the tribes to organizethe initiative campaign. "Members of the public have been misled and areunderstandably frustrated by what they perceive to be a misappropriation oftheir right to exercise the initiative power."

The tribes will continue to use volunteer petition circulators in aneffort to meet the July 7th deadline for turning in signatures to theSecretary of State. Many of the volunteer circulators are tribal membersthat more fully understand the initiative proposal and can better explainit to potential signers. Thompson stated, "We hope the exclusive use ofvolunteer petition circulators will increase the level of respect accordedto them as they exercise the first amendment rights shared by all citizensof Nebraska."

Affirmative Public Policy Solutions is a consultancy whose business ishelping public and private entities achieve extraordinary results in publicpolicy.

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