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Politics
Lobbying Report: National Indian Gaming Association


Thanks to Indian gaming, tribes have emerged as major players in Washington, D.C. In the past two election cycles alone, tribes poured $13.8 million into Republican and Democrat interests, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

But this figure doesn't include the money tribes and tribal organizations spend to lobby Congress and the executive branch. So to find out more about this area, Indianz.Com is taking a look at who's spending Indian money in Washington, who's getting it and what they're spending it on. Today we're looking at one of Indian Country's most well known organizations.

Who's Spending?
The National Indian Gaming Association (http://www.indiangaming.org) is the largest inter-tribal casino organization, representing 184 tribes. According to its web site, NIGA's mission "is to protect and preserve the general welfare of tribes striving for self-sufficiency through gaming enterprises in Indian Country."

How do they do that? By working "with the federal government and Congress to develop sound policies and practices" -- in other words, lobbying on a broad range of issues affecting tribes and tribal gaming.

Who's Getting?
According to Congressional records, NIGA spent about $420,000 in year 2004 on lobbying. This figure may or may not be complete because there is currently no year-end report on file as of the February 14, 2005, due date.

As the main tribal gaming lobby, most of NIGA's work is done by its officials and employees -- people like chairman Ernie Stevens Jr. and executive director Mark Van Norman. According to records, NIGA spent $220,000 of its own money on lobbying in 2004.

But NIGA also employed the services of at least four other firms, the records show. In 2004, NIGA gave $40,000 to American Continental Group (http://www.acgrep.com), $60,000 to Carlyle Consulting, $20,000 to Gardner Carton & Douglas (http://www.gcd.com) and $80,000 to Williams & Jensen (http://www.williamsandjensen.com), a firm that employs House Majority Leader Tom DeLay's former chief of staff. One other firm, Brand & Fulla, reported NIGA as a client but did not perform any lobbying activities last year, according to the records.

All of these figures are rounded to the nearest $20,000, so the actual amount may be more or less than what was disclosed.

What Are They Spending On?
In 2004, NIGA lobbied on a broad range of topical issues facing Indian Country, including Internet gaming, tribal tax-exempt bonds, Internet taxation, tobacco taxation, Interior appropriations and "any bills introduced that would affect the rights of federally recognized Indian tribes to conduct gaming pursuant to the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act and any bills concerning either tribal sovereignty or economic development on Indian lands." NIGA lobbied on these issues before the House, the Senate, the Internal Revenue Service, the National Indian Gaming Commission, the Interior Department and the Justice Department. [NIGA Mid-Year Report]

American Continental Group was hired by NIGA to lobby on "Internet Gambling" and "NIGC Funding," according to the firm's records. Two firm lobbyists represented NIGA before the House and the Senate. [ACG Year-End Report]

Carlyle Consulting was hired by NIGA to lobby on "Indian/Native American Affairs" and on tribal tax-exempt bond legislation, Internet gaming and tribal sovereignty. Tom Rodgers, president and CEO, lobbied the House and the Senate. [Carlyle Year-End Report]

Gardner Carton & Douglas only worked half of 2004 for NIGA on a wide range of issues, including tax-exempt bonds, taxation, the Indian Employment Credit. Three firm lobbyists represented NIGA before the House, the Senate, the Department of Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service. [GCD Mid-Year Termination

Williams & Jensen worked the full year for NIGA, specifically on H.R.2824, Internet Tobacco Sales Enforcement Act, which would have essentially waived tribal sovereign immunity by allowing state governments to bring enforcement actions against tribes and Indian retailers in federal court. [W&J Year-End Termination]

For More Information
To find out more about tribal lobbying in Washington, visit the U.S. Senate Office of Public Records (http://sopr.senate.gov). The office maintains the most recent information for lobbying expenditures reported to the Senate. Information for this story was obtained by entering "NATL INDIAN GAMING ASSN" as the client name in the database.

Other lobbying information can be found at the U.S. House of Representaties, Office of the Clerk (http://clerk.house.gov/pd).

Relevant Links:
Senate Office of Public Records - http://sopr.senate.gov