PORTLAND (AP) – A pro-casino political action committee wrote a letter Tuesday to Maine broadcasters asking that they pull an anti-casino ad that it labeled as “false and deceptive.”

The Casinos No! group launched its first television ad Tuesday opposing a referendum proposal to allow the Penobscot and Passamaquoddy Indian tribes to develop a casino and resort in southern Maine. The ad claims that if Maine voters approve the referendum, the casino law could be changed only by the tribes and that casino financial records would be confidential.

In a letter to TV stations, Daniel Wathen, a lawyer who represents the pro-casino group Think About It, said it is “patently and demonstrably false” that the bill could only be changed by the tribes. Wathen was chief justice of the Maine Supreme Judicial Court until he resigned a year ago in an unsuccessful run for governor.

Wathen added that the ad’s claim that the financial records of a casino would be “confidential” mistakenly implies that the tribes can hide their books from state scrutiny. He said the records are not public, but that the tribes must submit a detailed report to the state that is subject to state audit.

“It’s a great ad,” Wathen said. “It’s not right, but it’s a great ad.”

Casinos No! spokesman Dennis Bailey said there is nothing false about the ad, which is narrated by Janet Mills, a former district attorney for Androscoggin, Franklin and Oxford counties.

He said it is written in black and white that the bill, if approved by voters, could not be changed without tribal approval. Furthermore, he said the casino’s financial records are indeed confidential. “The truth hurts,” he said. “They don’t want people to know the truth about this bill.”

David Baer, general manager and news director at WMTW-TV, said his station is reviewing the ad and has asked Casinos No! to document the claims in the ad.

Calls to general managers at Portland’s two other network stations were not immediately returned.

Mainers will vote Nov. 4 on whether to allow a $650 million casino and resort in southern Maine to be owned and operated by the tribes.

AP-ES-09-09-03 1705EDT

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