January 18, 2008

Legal quandary over compacts

Editorial:  Upon further review:  Yes, governor was involved

Talk with interior secretary throws vote of the people in doubt--and raises a stinkThe compacts are not officially in effect until they are published in the Federal Register. Given the pending vote in California and the mysterious disappearance and reappearance of the California compacts, Interior Department officials initially said they would not publish them until after the California vote. But 16 days later Interior reversed course, and the compacts were published.

It turns out that Schwarzenegger had spoken with Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne and asked him to publish the compacts. At an editorial board meeting with The Bee on Wednesday, when he was asked directly if he had asked Kempthorne to publish them, the governor hedged, merely saying he asked Kempthorne to give "some attention" to the matter to make sure that "everything go through procedures." Later, a spokesman for the governor said that Schwarzenegger had asked the secretary to publish the compacts. The governor spoke with Kempthorne on Dec. 6. The compacts were published in the Federal Register on Dec. 19.

Why should California voters care about all this? If voters reject those four gambling deals on the ballot, Interior's decision to approve and publish them in the Federal Register creates a legal quandary. Does federal action supersede the California vote?

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