indianz.com your internet resource indianz.com on facebook indianz.com on twitter indianz.com on Google+
ph: 202 630 8439
Kill The Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement
Advertise on Indianz.Com
Home > News > Headlines

printer friendly version
Indian Country awaits outcome of lobbying probe
Tuesday, May 18, 2004

As Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona) continues his investigation into $45 million in lobbying and other fees paid by tribes, some in Indian Country wonder where the high-profile probe might lead.

Few expect McCain, a critic of influence-peddling in Washington, D.C., to find anything particularly damaging. For several months, newspaper reports have disclosed how four tribes poured gaming and other funds into the pockets of Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff and Michael Scanlon, a close associate.

But tribal leaders and their advocates say the investigation poses an important question: Why should the federal government get involved in these kinds of tribal matters in the first place?

"I think it is a bit paternalistic," said University of Arizona professor Kevin Gover, a former tribal lobbyist, of the investigation.

Gover's tenure as head of the Bureau of Indian Affairs during the last three years of the Clinton administration sparked numerous allegations of influence-peddling. Critics accused Gover and his aides of making decisions to help former clients and to further their careers once they left their government jobs.

But Gover, who continues to help tribes as a consultant, said his detractors have "nothing" to back up their claims that lobbyists are swaying the BIA. "There is nothing in that regard to demonstrate that these lobbyists are in control of the process," he said, "It just isn't happening."

At an Indian law conference last month, a top BIA official said McCain's probe is symbolic of political pressures surrounding the $16 billion Indian gaming industry and the recognition of new tribes. Aurene Martin, the BIA's second-in-command, predicted members of Congress might try to restrict how tribes use casino revenues.

"The investigation will look into the source of the funds and there will be questions asked about how this situation could have happened, that is, how such exorbitant fees could be charged to a tribe," she said. "They are going to start looking at the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act and what it says about contracting."

Already, members of Congress have introduced bills they say will reform the situation. Rep. Rob Simmons (R-Connecticut) has a measure to close the "revolving door" that allows ex-government employees to lobby before their old bosses on behalf of tribes.

Martin said the BIA might be forced into reviewing tribal contracts with law firms, a practice that was dropped in the late 1990s when Congress amended Section 81 of U.S Code Title 25. Law firms often double as lobbying shops.

"Do you really want have the federal government picking the tribes' lawyer?" asked Gover, who said the BIA doesn't have the expertise to review attorney contracts. Gover nonetheless agreed that the high fees the four tribes paid were a "disgrace."

Federal officials are pushing the issue in their own ways. Phil Hogen, the chairman of the National Indian Gaming Commission, which regulates tribal casinos, has called for more powers to review the business dealings of tribes and their backers.

Many tribal leaders see these requests as unnecessary. In an editorial published in Indian Country Today this week, Jacob Coin, the executive director of the California Nations Indian Gaming Association, called NIGC's foray into internal tribal matters, such as enrollment, an "abuse of power."

McCain hasn't announced when he might hold a hearing on the lobbying controversy but one is expected sometime this summer. Last year, he raised the eyebrows of some Indian gaming leaders when he called for tribes to open their financial records to the public.

"You're headed for trouble if you hide behind not divulging ordinary information that other non-Indian gaming operations engage in on the basis of tribal sovereignty," he told the National Congress of American Indians in February 2003.

Relevant Links:
Sen. John McCain - http://mccain.senate.gov

Related Stories:
BIA's Anderson backed amid calls for resignation (05/10)
Critics take BIA to task over federal recognition (05/06)
Martin attacked for federal recognition decision (05/04)
BIA critical of main components of recognition bill (04/22)
BIA official warns of Congressional maneuvering (04/16)
McCain demands documents from lobbyist, PR exec (04/12)
McCain pushing Choctaw tribe to cooperate with probe (4/8)
Coushatta leaders used tribal money to pay lobbyists (4/8)
Coushatta Tribe paid $32M to lobbyist Jack Abramoff (4/6)
McCain calls for investigation into tribal spending (2/27)
Four tribes spent $45M on lobbying and PR firms (2/23)
Indian gaming agenda discussed at meeting (02/28)
McCain urges tribes not to hide behind sovereignty (02/26)

Copyright 2000-2004 Indianz.Com
More headlines...
Stay Connected:

Local Links:
Federal Register | Indian Gaming | Jobs & Notices | In The Hoop | Message Board
Latest News:
Native Sun News: Tribe threw away late veteran's memorabilia (10/31)
Mark Trahant: The Native vote could decide the 2014 election (10/31)
Richard Peterson: Sen. Begich supports Alaska Native issues (10/31)
NCAI investigates conduct of treasurer at annual convention (10/31)
Red Lake News: Tribe welcomes Sen. Tester and Sen. Franken (10/31)
Former chairman of Chippewa Cree Tribe faces more charges (10/31)
Texas couple accused of selling fake tribal membership cards (10/31)
Moapa Band loses bid for $438M solar facility on reservation (10/31)
Passamaquoddy Tribe won't talk with tidal power developers (10/31)
Oregon tribe anticipates May 2015 opening for Class II casino (10/31)
Trial opens in case connected to Choctaw Nation casino work (10/31)
Editorial: Off-reservation gaming project unfair to other tribes (10/31)
Opinion: Menominee Nation exploits loophole to pursue casino (10/31)
Native Sun News: Oglala Sioux officer rejoins Rapid City police (10/30)
Mark Trahant: Native voters must be prepared on election day (10/30)
Kevin Gover: Mascot fight exposes myths about Native people (10/30)
Northern Arapaho Tribe: Newspaper got it wrong on joint council (10/30)
Peter d'Errico: Kevin Washburn honored by Indian law students (10/30)
Chris Deschene still urging Navajo Nation voters to choose him (10/30)
Tribes in North Carolina back Democrat Sen. Hagan in tight race (10/30)
NWPR: Tribes take steps to control growing herds of wild horses (10/30)
Opinion: Helping the Tongva people revive their own language (10/30)
Judge grants injunction to keep Chukchansi Tribe casino closed (10/30)
Tribes in South Dakota would benefit from gaming referendum (10/30)
Employee at Puyallup Tribe's casino gets wedding ring returned (10/30)
Editorial: Keep tribal casinos in California on existing Indian land (10/30)
Column: Menominee Nation off-reservation casino goes ignored (10/30)
Quapaw Tribe faces competition for Kansas commercial casino (10/30)
Native Sun News: Montana tribe sees cut in heating assistance (10/29)
Mark Trahant: Alaska Senate race is a real test of Native policy (10/29)
Winona LaDuke: Taking treaty advice from indigenous nations (10/29)
Vena A-Dae Romero: FDA failing to consult tribal governments (10/29)
Zachary Pullin: Native Americans overcame barriers to voting (10/29)
Navajo Nation president vetoes bill to address language issue (10/29)
Prairie Island Indian Community sues over nuclear waste rule (10/29)
County's letter on CSKT water compact talks stirs controversy (10/29)
Vice: Hip-hop artist Drezus on new journey after jail sentence (10/29)
Opinion: Overcoming stereotypes of Native American culture (10/29)
Charges sought in dispute at Chukchansi Tribe's closed casino (10/29)
Pechanga Band chair featured in ads against North Fork casino (10/29)
Grand Ronde Tribes continue fight against Cowlitz Tribe casino (10/29)
Puyallup Tribe offers reward for return of casino worker's ring (10/29)
more headlines...

Home | Arts & Entertainment | Business | Canada | Cobell Lawsuit | Education | Environment | Federal Recognition | Federal Register | Forum | Health | Humor | Indian Gaming | Indian Trust | Jack Abramoff Scandal | Jobs & Notices | Law | National | News | Opinion | Politics | Sports | Technology | World

Indianz.Com Terms of Service | Indianz.Com Privacy Policy
About Indianz.Com | Advertise on Indianz.Com

Indianz.Com is a product of Noble Savage Media, LLC and Ho-Chunk, Inc.