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Cason acknowledges robbing Peter to pay Paul

Top Interior Department officials are defending the Bush administration's decision to cut funds from Indian programs to pay for the Cobell v. Norton trust fund lawsuit.

Associate deputy secretary Jim Cason made an across-the-board cut at the Bureau of Indian Affairs and reduced funds from other programs to pay $7 million in attorney's fees awarded to the Cobell plaintiffs. "I don't have pots of millions of dollars just sitting around," Cason said in an interview with Gannett News Service. "It's a matter of robbing Peter to pay Paul to pay them."

"When you pay it, there's no easy place to come up with 7 million dollars," said Special Trustee Ross Swimmer. The Office of Special Trustee contributed to the payment but the BIA bore the brunt of the cut.

Cason was confronted about the leader by some tribal leaders after the State of Indian Nations address.

Get the Story:
Tribes angered by budget cuts (Gannett News Service 2/3)

Jim Cason Letter:
Dear Tribal Leader (January 26, 2006)

Relevant Links:
Indian Trust: Cobell v. Norton -
Cobell v. Norton, Department of Justice -

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