A planned Station Casinos-hosted fundraiser in Las Vegas on behalf of a California lawmaker was abruptly canceled Tuesday after a Sacramento newspaper raised questions about the timing of the event, which would take place before a vote over an Indian casino project.
The fundraiser, which included rooms at the Red Rock Resort and tickets to an Ultimate Fighting Championship event Saturday, was to benefit California State Sen. Ricardo Lara, D-Bell Gardens, and the Latino Caucus Leadership PAC. Eight Sacramento lobbyists were to fly to Las Vegas for the weekend.
Lara canceled the plans Tuesday after the Sacramento Bee reported on the fundraiser. He declined comment to the Bee. His office released a statement saying the event had been planned for more than a year.
The newspaper questioned the timing. Station Casinos is lobbying the California Legislature to approve a compact with the North Fork Rancheria of Mono Indians for a casino development near Fresno. Station Casinos has a management contract to operate the casino once the project is built.
“The unpredictability of our legislative calendar has created an unfortunate case of coincidental timing,” the statement said.
The $3,000 tickets to the fundraiser for Lara and the PAC included two receptions, entrance to the fight and accommodations at the Red Rock. Station Casinos and UFC owner Zuffa donated tickets, food and hotel rooms for the event.
Station Casinos is building the $800 million Graton Resort & Casino near Santa Rosa, Calif., for the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria, which is expected to open later this year. The casino operator built and operated the Thunder Valley Casino near Sacramento for the United Auburn Tribe from 2003 until 2010 when its management contract expired.
“Station Casinos and Zuffa LLC have been doing business in California for more than a decade and have been proud, visible and consistent participants in the political process during that time,” Station Casinos spokeswoman Lori Nelson said in a statement. “There’s nothing notable or unusual about our political giving this year and it certainly has no connection to any pending legislation.”