By Steve Large

ELK GROVE (CBS13) —A big money political battle is now playing out across the city of Elk Grove, with accusations of secret money playing a role.

It’s raising the stakes in a multi-million dollar agreement to build a casino on land next to a long-awaited outlet mall.

Dozens of signature gatherers are seeking thousands of voters, and opponents to the petition are carrying their political signs.

The ballot talk is over the recently approved $400 million Wilton Rancheria Tribe casino deal with a proposed Elk Grove outlet mall owner.

A group is now gathering signatures for a referendum and a public vote that could overturn the development deal, just approved by the city council.

Supporters of the casino and mall development say the people paying for the petition won’t say who they are.

“There’s a group that’s from out of town, they’re not disclosing who’s giving them money, but they’re coming in and trying to get petitions,” Region Business CEO Josh Wood said.

The signature gatherers are being paid $5 a signature by a company called “Discovery Petition Management.”

The owner would only say she is a sub-contractor and told me she didn’t know the funders.

Suzanne Pecci lives in Elk Grove and opposes the casino deal. She says whose paying for the petition doesn’t concern her.

“That doesn’t matter at all and I think that whoever is putting their money into this campaign, it benefits this community to have that casino,” Pecci said.

The Wilton Rancheria tribe’s casino deal with the owners of the long awaited Elk Grove outlet mall would include a 300 room hotel, and 130 million dollars in payments to the city of Elk Grove over 20 years.

Big money, now entering a new political battle.

The signature gatherers will need to collect 8900 signatures by November 28th.

They will turn the signatures over to the Elk Grove city clerk.

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