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Coushatta leaders used tribal money to pay lobbyists
Thursday, April 8, 2004

Two leaders of the Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana used $24 million in funds meant for housing, health care and education programs to pay lobbyists, The Lake Charles American Press reports.

Documents obtained by the paper detail the spending of chairman Lovelin Poncho and council member William Worfel, who were authorized to sign checks for various activities. One memo showed that, in one year alone, $19 million was transferred from the tribe's general, health, education and housing funds to pay for lobbying and public relations services. Another document stated that the tribe spent $32 million on embattled Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff, a figure confirmed by a third-party source.

Poncho and Worfel are the subject of a recall attempt within the tribe. The special election was to be held May 1, but has been postponed until Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) finishes his investigation into high fees the Coushattas and three other tribes paid to Abramoff. Hearings before the Senate Indian Affairs Committee are expected in late spring or early summer.

Get the Story:
Memo: Coushattas pent $19M on lobbyists within year (The Lake Charles American Press 4/8)
Coushatta Tribe's May 1 special election postponed (The Lake Charles American Press 4/8)
Report: Coushatta controller warned of $24 million spending (AP 4/7)

Relevant Links:
Coushatta Tribe - http://www.coushattatribela.org
Greenberg Traurig - http://www.gtlaw.com

Related Stories:
Coushatta Tribe paid $32M to lobbyist Jack Abramoff (4/6)
McCain aggressive in pursuing lobbyist records (4/5)
McCain demands documents for tribal lobbyist's work (3/30)
Embattled lobbyist signs deal with another firm (03/25)
Embattled tribal lobbyist gave to Conn. Congressman (03/10)
Saginaw Chippewa Tribe hires new lobbying firm (3/9)
McCain begins investigation into high tribal fees (3/4)
Pueblo governor says $1M fee to PR firm not worth it (3/3)
McCain calls for investigation into tribal spending (2/27)
Four tribes spent $45M on lobbying and PR firms (2/23)
GOP lobbyist scores big with tribes (04/03)
Embattled tribe gets has new lobbyist (12/13)

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