BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The Seneca Nation is spending tens of thousands of dollars on television and radio ads criticizing Gov. Kathy Hochul for committing long-disputed Seneca casino revenue toward building a new stadium for the Buffalo Bills.
A spokesperson for the Senecas said the television commercials are running only in the Buffalo media market while the radio spots are targeted at select areas of upstate New York. Federal Communications Commission filings show purchases in the Buffalo and Albany regions with the commercials already running this week.
The current TV buys run for about a week while the radio spots will run until April 18.
"The state of New York just received hundreds of millions of dollars from the Seneca Nation," the radio commercial begins. "The additional funding gave Gov. Hochul a great opportunity to help repair our roads, build hospitals, fix our bridges and support our schools. What did she do instead? She gave away hundreds of millions of dollars to build a football stadium for the NFL."
At the end of last month, the state took action to freeze various corporate banking accounts for the Seneca Nation, essentially forcing the Senecas to turn over nearly $565 million in back payments as part of a slot machine revenue sharing deal in its compact with the state. The Senecas had argued for roughly five years they no longer were required to make those payments, but after an arbitration panel disagreed and several courts held up the binding arbitration, they agreed to make the payments earlier this year.
The state said it decided to freeze the accounts, which the nation believed was an overly heavy-handed action, after the nation missed another deadline. The Senecas said they were waiting for a final ruling on the legality of the compact from the federal Department of the Interior.
However, the advertisement does not focus on how the state got the money, but rather how it plans to use it.
"We're football fans but with skyrocketing inflations and stretched budgets, handouts for the NFL which makes billions of dollars in profit every year is the wrong way to use this money," the narrator said.
The Senecas also pinpoint a concern which is now the focus of an ethics complaint against the governor.
"There's also a serious conflict of interest for Gov. Hochul. The governor's husband serves as a senior executive for a company that stands to make millions of dollars selling concessions in the new stadium. This is just the latest chapter in the state of New York's long history of misusing public funds. The NFL gets a new stadium. New Yorkers pay the price. Gov. Hochul, New York deserves better," the ad ends.
Hochul's office has said Delaware North had nothing to do with the stadium negotiations nor is it guaranteed the company will continue to contract with the Bills in the future.
Here is the advertisement information per outlet:
- WGY: Running until April 18: $7,674
- WBEN: running until April 18: $13,378
- WGRZ: Running for about a week: $24,205
- WIVB: Running for about a week: $11,575