FROM THE ARCHIVE
Congressman accuses Norton of 'stealth' moves
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WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 8, 2003

The federal judge overseeing the Indian trust fund on Monday accepted a letter written by a New Jersey Congressman that accuses Secretary of Interior Gale Norton of making false claims about her proposed reorganization.

Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) on January 2 wrote that Norton wrongly claimed she has support for the changes. "It would be wholly inaccurate if Secretary Norton represents before your court in the Cobell case," he said, "that she has either Congressional approval or tribal approval to move forward with trust account reform at this time."

Pallone further said the House Resources Committee, on which hs sits, was not consulted about the restructuring of the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) and the Office of Special Trustee (OST). He said Norton employed a "stealth maneuver" to reprogram $5 million for the changes when Congress was out of session.

"It is critical that the information presented by the Department of Interior in this case accurately represents the actions of Congress and the approval of the tribal governments," Pallone concluded. "However, Secretary Norton's intentions seem to be to proceed with the case and misrepresent her level of support in order to circumvent real Congressional approval."

Norton on November 19 held press calls with the mainstream and Indian media to announce House and Senate acceptance of the reprogramming request, which was opposed by tribes. During the call, she admitted the department received a House letter December 10. But in a meeting with tribal leaders, they were not informed.

Dan DuBray, an Interior spokesperson, later claimed the House letter wasn't received until December 18, the same day the Senate sent its letter.

Relevant Documents:
Lamberth Order on Pallone Letter (January 7, 2003)

Relevant Links:
Indian Trust: Cobell v. Norton - http://www.indiantrust.com
Cobell v. Norton, Department of Justice - http://www.usdoj.gov/civil/cases/cobell/index.htm
Indian Trust, Department of Interior - http://www.doi.gov/indiantrust
Trust Reform, NCAI - http://www.ncai.org/main/pages/
issues/other_issues/trust_reform.asp

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