Who will defend the casino referendum language? (UPDATED)

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A hearing on a Brooklyn attorney’s attempt to block New York’s referendum on casino gambling is scheduled for Friday, but it’s not clear who will be defending the ballot proposition’s language. (Update: The Board of Elections will be representing itself. See below.)

Attorney Eric Snyder last week sued the co-chairs of the state Board of Elections, seeking to block the referendum because of its rosy language touting the benefits of potential revenue from allowing up to seven private casinos across the state.

Under normal circumstances, the Board of Elections would be represented by the state attorney general’s office, which acts as the lawyer for the executive branch. But the AG’s office had recommended the board use more neutral language for the ballot proposition — advice that was eventually rejected. Snyder’s lawsuit makes mention of the office’s advice.

Matt Mittenthal, a spokesman for Schneiderman, said the Board of Elections hasn’t consulted with the AG’s office since the suit was filed.

“We have not yet received a request to represent the Board of Elections in this matter,” Mittenthal said.

The Board of Elections hasn’t responded to requests for comment. Update: John Conklin, a spokesman for the Board of Elections, said in an email Tuesday that the board would be representing itself in the matter. Its initial response to the suit is due by paper tomorrow, with the hearing to follow Friday.

The casino referendum will be the first proposition listed on the November ballot. It would change the state Constitution to allow for up to seven private casinos, while a separate law would require the first four to be sited in the Capital Region, Catskills and Southern Tier.

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