DUBOIS, Wyo. (AP) — Wyoming lawmakers are moving ahead with plans for more gambling regulation.
The state Pari-Mutuel Commission currently oversees horse racing. The Legislature's joint Travel, Recreation and Cultural Resources Committee voted Thursday to advance a bill to expand the commission's responsibilities to other types of gambling.
The bill could be debated during this winter's legislative session.
Under the proposal, the commission would regulate gambling in any county that chose to allow it. Proceeds from skill games would go to local communities.
Opponents include the Northern Arapaho Tribe. Former Northern Arapaho casino CEO Jim Conrad tells the Casper Star-Tribune more gambling in Wyoming would devastate tribal gambling.
Republican Sen. Ogden Driskill of Devils Tower says regardless of whether people are for or against gambling, a commission is the only way to control gambling.
Information from: Casper (Wyo.) Star-Tribune.
By GEOFF MULVIHILL
Attorneys general representing nearly half the states and lawyers for more than 500 local governments on Friday blasted the terms of Purdue Pharma's offer to settle thousands of lawsuits over the nation's opioid crisis in court filings that also said the company had funneled up to $13 billion to its controlling family.
Their legal filings said the tentative deal does not contain an admission of wrongdoing from members of the Sackler family, would not stop family members from future misconduct and wouldn't force them to repay money “they pocketed from their illegal conduct.''
The documents say members of the Sackler family — one of the wealthiest in the U.S. — made $12 billion to $13 billion from Purdue, a higher amount than court records had previously given. The figure was in a sworn statement given last month by Jesse DelConte, a restructuring consultant for Purdue; an excerpt of his deposition did not specify over what time period those payments were made.
In a previous deposition, former Purdue chief executive Richard Sackler gave only a broad range between $1 billion and $10 billion that the family made from its signature painkiller, OxyContin.
Friday's court filings object to Purdue's request that all lawsuits against members of the Sackler family be halted as part of tentative settlement terms that are being considered in bankruptcy court in White Plains, New York. The family faces hundreds of lawsuits in state courts, including at least two dozen filed by state attorneys general.
Purdue's filing for bankruptcy protection last month removed the company from federal litigation in Cleveland that involves some 2,600 local governments, Native American tribes, unions and hospitals. The first trial in that multidistrict case is scheduled to begin Oct. 21.
The maker of the OxyContin painkiller filed for bankruptcy after half of state attorneys general and lawyers representing local governments agreed to their settlement offer, which could be worth as much as $12 billion over time.
The bankruptcy court filings this week, most of them on Friday, showed the level of dissent over that offer among state and local governments that had been seeking a nationwide settlement.
Many of them argue that the Purdue settlement offer does not hold the Sackler family sufficiently accountable for a crisis that has contributed to more than 400,000 overdose deaths in the U.S. over the past two decades. That's why, they argued, the state cases against the family should continue even as Purdue's bankruptcy plays out.
“The Motion appears to be an attempt to have this Court prematurely approve a ‘firebreak' strategy for the benefit of the Sacklers, in which the Sacklers have decided to offer up Purdue and see if they can outrace justice for a price they deem acceptable,'' the local government attorneys said in their filing.
Under its settlement offer, Purdue would be operated as a public benefit trust and its profits would be part of the settlement, as would the value of overdose antidotes and a treatment drug in development; the Sacklers would give up control of the company. Part of the deal's value would come from a contribution of $3 billion to $4.5 billion from members of the Sackler family, an amount that at least partially depends on how much they receive from selling their global opioid business, Mundipharma.
“The offer does not shut down Purdue; instead it would keep Purdue in business under a new name, so that settlement money could be collected from future OxyContin sales,'' the attorneys general said in their filing. “If the States accepted the offer, there would never be a trial to determine the Sacklers' liability for one of the greatest public health crises of our time.''
The company has told the bankruptcy judge that if the family has to continue to face hundreds of lawsuits across the country, it might be “unwilling or unable'' to contribute to the settlement. The 500 governments who jointly filed on Friday said the company had it “backwards.''
“The Sacklers' failure to make an adequate contribution itself impairs the prospect of achieving a consensual plan of organization,'' the filing said. “That failure is a reason to deny the injunction (against the state lawsuits), not grant it.''
Forbes has estimated that the Sacklers are one of the 20 wealthiest families in the U.S.
Daniel Connolly, lawyer for the branch of the Sackler family that are heirs to one of the company's late patriarchs, Raymond Sackler, said in a statement Friday that the family members have agreed to give up control of the company plus kick in cash if all lawsuits against it are stopped.
He said that would “allow parties to focus their efforts on this goal rather than on litigation that will waste resources and delay the deployment of solutions to communities in need.''
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The ancestral remains of Native American tribes that once called the cliffs of Mesa Verde National Park home will be repatriated as part of an agreement between Finland and the United States.
The White House on Wednesday announced the agreement involving the remains of about 20 people and 28 funerary objects taken from the Mesa Verde area more than 100 years ago. The remains and artifacts were unearthed during excavations by a Swedish researcher in 1891 and hundreds of items eventually became part of the collection of the National Museum of Finland.
President Donald Trump and Finnish President Sauli Niinisto acknowledged the sanctity of the items to the more than two dozen tribes with cultural connections to the Mesa Verde region, best known for hundreds of stone dwellings that early inhabitants constructed in cliffsides, said U.S. Interior Secretary David Bernhardt.
The agreement ensures the remains and items will be brought “to their proper resting place in the U.S," Bernhardt said.
Clark Tenakhongva, vice chairman of the Hopi Tribe, said tribes hope to receive the collection by early next year and would ensure funerary items are buried with the remains in the general area where they were taken, accompanied by a ceremony.
“I know we'll work together as the various tribes that have interest in them," Tenakhongva said. “And how we process them will be the most carefully thought out plan so that we don't do any more harm than what's already been done."
The exact burial location won't be publicized to prevent the site from being disturbed.
“They need to be returned there so they can safety return to the spirit world, in the next world," he said. “Hopi always believe, like most cultures and people, when you pass on you're going to return to God or Jesus. And we return back to the hands of the creator who brought us here."
The agreement comes as U.S. lawmakers have pushed for legislation to ban collectors and vendors from exporting Native American ceremonial items. The proposal would close loopholes that have stifled efforts to retrieve Native American items that have shown up on the auction block in Paris.
In 2016, French dealers were forced to halt the sale of a ceremonial shield from Acoma Pueblo, a Native American village west of Albuquerque. Leaders from the New Mexico tribe said the shield was taken from their village decades ago.
A federal court earlier this year called for the shield to be released to the U.S. Embassy in Paris so it could be returned.
Efforts to return the Mesa Verde remains and items started in 2016 when tribes associated with the park began working with the Finnish museum to identify the collection's human remains and funerary objects. An inventory was completed last year.
Federal officials must now craft a plan for the transfer of the remains and items to the tribes and pueblos.
The Hopi Tribe in northeastern Arizona was among those leading the repatriation effort. The other tribes with links to Mesa Verde include the Navajo Nation, which spans parts of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah; the Southern Ute and Ute Mountain Ute in Colorado; 19 pueblos, and the Mescalero and Jicarilla Apache tribes in New Mexico; and Ysleta del Sur Pueblo in Texas.
Navajo President Jonathan Nez said the agreement is a step in the right direction.
“This is an unfortunate and longstanding issue that many tribes have dealt with including the Navajo Nation," he said.
E. Paul Torres, chairman of the All Pueblo Council of Governors, said tribal leaders look forward to the repatriation and referred to the cultural items as “the sacred living footprints of our ancestors" and vital parts of the legacy that tribes strive to leave for future generations.
The excavations more than a century ago by the researcher Gustaf Nordenskiöld resulted in his arrest in 1891 when he tried to export the collection. He was later released because no U.S. laws had been broken.
Hopi officials said the case helped to sway public perception about the importance of protecting cultural resources. Later, the 1906 Antiquities Act was adopted, and Mesa Verde was established as a national park.