The California-Hawaii State Conference of the NAACP has filed suit in Sacramento Superior Court to remove what it calls “deceptive and inappropriate use of its name” from a ballot argument urging voters against California sports betting Prop 26.
The NAACP supports the measure, which would legalize retail sports betting at California tribal casinos only. Prop 27, the rival sports betting initiative to Prop 26, would allow online betting via mobile sportsbooks like DraftKings California and FanDuel California.
But in litigation filed Aug. 1, the NAACP claims a “consultant” employed by a “No On 26” group coerced one of its members into making statements against the proposition. Those statements have since appeared in a packet of documents that would be presented to voters before the Nov. 8 general election.
“NAACP is proud to stand with California Indian Tribes in strong support of Prop 26 to help preserve and further Indian self-reliance,” Rick Callender, president of the California-Hawaii State Conference of the NAACP, said in a press release. “We are outraged that the cardroom casinos and their No on 26 campaign would deceptively use the NAACP name in its arguments despite our strong support. We are suing to have these dishonest statements removed from the ballot arguments so it does not mislead voters.”
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The contentious passage is a quote from 40-year NAACP member Minnie Hadley-Hempstead, who is identified as a retired teacher and “President Emeritus of the Los Angeles NAACP Branch.” In the quote, Hadley-Hempstead claims the organization opposes Prop 26 to “protect young people from developing lifelong gambling addictions that often lead to ruined finances, relationships, even homelessness and crime.”
According to the NAACP, the statement is misleading for multiple reasons:
- The California-Hawaii State Conference NAACP publicly endorsed Prop 26 on Feb. 28 and still supports it.
- The NAACP prohibits local branches from publicly “taking positions contrary to that of the state branch.”
- The LA chapter doesn’t have “President Emeritus” position.
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The suit also contends that Hadley-Hempstead was deceived into believing the NAACP wished for her to make that statement.
According to the lawsuit:
“Hadley-Hempstead was asked to contribute a statement to the ‘Argument Against by the President of the Sacramento NAACP branch,’ who was also a paid campaign consultant for the No On Proposition 26 campaign. At the time, Ms. Hadley-Hempstead was not aware that the NAACP supported Proposition 26 and the consultant never informed Ms. Hadley-Hempstead that she worked for the No On Proposition 26 campaign. If Ms. Hadley-Hempstead had known that the NAACP supported Proposition 26, she would have never agreed to provide her statement in the Argument Against Proposition 26in violation of the NAACP Bylaws.”
The suit claims that Hadley-Hempstead requested too late to retract her statement once she learned “the truth.” Removing the statement from the ballot argument is now dependent on the Secretary of State.
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Two ballot measures to legalize sports betting in California will be put in front of Californians in November.
Prop 27 would allow for non-tribal sports betting outfits to offer mobile sports betting in the state. As expected, Prop 27 is being supported by national sports betting companies such as DraftKings with the most-populated state (39 million) closer to legalizing sports betting than ever before.
California card room casinos stand to benefit from Prop 27 because of the prospect of partnerships with national sports betting companies.