indianz.com your internet resource indianz.com on facebook indianz.com on twitter indianz.com on Google+
ph: 202 630 8439   fax: 202 318 2182
Fredericks Peebles & Morgan LLP
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...
Local Links:
Federal Register | Indian Gaming | Jobs & Notices | In The Hoop | Message Board
Latest News:
Tim Giago: Oglala Sioux people aren't afraid to say no to easy cash (9/1)
Native Sun News: Release of secret uranium mining data ordered (9/1)
Jennie Stockle: A safe space for opponents of offensive mascotry (9/1)
John Christian Hopkins: A big thank you to the friend I never met (9/1)
Opinion: Federal recognition only means more casinos in California (9/1)
Native Sun News: Tribes walk out of contract support cost meeting (8/29)
Clara Caufield: Northern Cheyenne Tribe spends $2.4M on property (8/29)
Mike Johanns: Retracing steps of great Ponca Chief Standing Bear (8/29)
Steven Newcomb: Racist mascot a sign of deeper problems in US (8/29)
Lauren Jones: Affordable Care Act benefits Native Americans too (8/29)
Gila River Indian Community to see $77.6M from Cobell buy-back (8/29)
Energy boom linked to rise in human trafficking in Indian Country (8/29)
Navajo man heads up Native American Homelessness Task Force (8/29)
9th Circuit hears case over Yakama Nation tobacco manufacturer (8/29)
WAER: ICWA matters handled in 'kangaroo courts' in South Dakota (8/29)
MPR: Red Lake Nation opposes liquor license near dry reservation (8/29)
Tule River Tribe helps remove marijuana operation on reservation (8/29)
Omaha Tribe signs agreement with EPA to improve utility services (8/29)
Las Vegas Paiute Tribe rejected 'gift' from NFL team's foundation (8/29)
KPLU: Spokane Tribe maintains close ties with baseball franchise (8/29)
Opinion: HUD loan program a small step to boost Indian housing (8/29)
DNA study finds distinct population of Native people in Arctic area (8/29)
Tribes closely watching Big Lagoon Rancheria casino land dispute (8/29)
Tohono O'odham Nation to build off-reservation casino in phases (8/29)
State questions Forest County Powatatomi Tribe's slot machines (8/29)
Quapaw Tribe eyes local support for commercial casino in Kansas (8/29)
Native Sun News: Police officers who shot Indian teen get medals (8/28)
Cara Cowan Watts: Laying the groundwork for college scholarship (8/28)
Rudolph Ryser: Indigenous nations need leverage to bring change (8/28)
DOI extends $100M in Cobell buy-back offers on two reservations (8/28)
Cobell buy-backs could return over 38K acres to tribe in Montana (8/28)
Five-year-old Navajo boy sent home from school for his long hair (8/28)
Three charged with murder for death of Mississippi Choctaw man (8/28)
Lummi Nation seeks cooperation after ruling in treaty rights case (8/28)
Artist Gregg Deal takes on Indian mascots for performance piece (8/28)
Sports announcer won't use Washington NFL team's name on air (8/28)
Recruiter from Spokane Tribe's college selected for Peirone Prize (8/28)
California tribes support release of water to benefit salmon runs (8/28)
Southern Ute Tribe invests $2B in big energy production system (8/28)
County hires lobbying firm to oppose federal recognition reforms (8/28)
Tohono O'odham Nation breaks ground for off-reservation casino (8/28)
Cherokee Nation starts construction on casino at Indian allotment (8/28)
Aquinnah Wampanoag Tribe responds to opponents in casino suit (8/28)
Jamul Band continues work on $360M casino after victory in court (8/28)
Editorial: Forest County Potawatomi Tribe ups ante in casino feud (8/28)
Ho-Chunk Nation launches outreach effort amid casino expansion (8/28)
Nebraska Supreme Court hears arguments over gaming initiative (8/28)
Tim Giago: Greedy lawyers and government ruin Cobell settlement (8/27)
Native Sun News: Facility in Montana set to house Indian inmates (8/27)
Gerald Gipp: National strategy needed to reform Indian education (8/27)
9th Circuit won't stop repatriation of Kumeyaay Nation ancestors (8/27)
Bill John Baker: Cherokee Nation puts youth to work for summer (8/27)
Gabe Galanda: Academia won't tackle tribal disenrollment issue (8/27)
Misty Lynn Ellingburg: 'Four Winds' is a literary magazine for us (8/27)
Declination rates for Indian Country crime steady for third year (8/27)
DOJ awards grants to address violence in Bakken energy region (8/27)
Another pipeline spills saltwater on reservation in North Dakota (8/27)
Navajo voters oust incumbent president Ben Shelly in primary (8/27)
Once rival factions of Chukchansi Tribe agree to 2015 election (8/27)
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.