2003 casino advocate gives thoughts on casino vote

Posted Sept. 03, 2008, at 3:07 p.m.

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — The chief architect of a failed 2003 referendum to allow a casino in southern Maine isn’t keen on a ballot measure this November asking voters if they want a casino in the western part of the state.

Now living in San Francisco, Tom Tureen said he isn’t hot on the idea of a casino in Oxford County.

Instead, any casino in Maine should be located as close as possible to Boston, where it has the potential to draw the most out-of-state money, Tureen told the Portland Press Herald.

Tureen, 64, first made a name for himself in the landmark Maine Indian Claims Settlement Act of 1980 that netted the Passamaquoddy and Penobscot tribes $81.5 million from the government. Five years ago, he spearheaded the drive to build a $650 million casino and resort in Sanford to be owned by the tribes.

After Mainers rejected the referendum by a 2-1 margin, Tureen dropped out of public view.

Two years after the vote he moved to San Francisco with Erin Lehane, who had been the spokeswoman for the 2003 casino effort. The two married in 2006 and live in the city’s Pacific Heights neighborhood.

Tureen now works from his home as a financial consultant for New York-based private-equity firms. His wife, who is 37, has been working as a political consultant, most recently for former NBA star Kevin Johnson, who won a June primary in the mayoral race in Sacramento.

Tureen is also busy helping raise their daughter, Rose, who was born this summer. Tureen has two grown children from his first marriage.

He told the paper he is excited and energized with his second family and his life in San Francisco.

But his thoughts were pulled back to the 2003 casino referendum, he said, when he received a phone call in July from Pat LaMarche, who at the time was campaign spokeswoman for the Oxford County initiative. LaMarche has since stepped down.

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