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Washington lobbyists collect tribal fees

Update/Correction: The Holland & Knight firm reported approximately $2.08 million in tribal revenues in 2005, not $20.8 million as incorrectly stated. The decimal figure was in the wrong place.

In a three-part series, Indian Country Today is looking at the Washington lobbying industry post-Abramoff. The second installment highlights a number of lobbyists who are considered the most prominent in Indian affairs.

ICT's list, based on sources the paper wouldn't name, includes several well-known lobbyist and lobbying firms. But how does their revenue and client list stack up to their reputation?

To find out, Indianz.Com consulted Senate and House records as well as data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics. Overall, the data shows that tribes, Indian organizations and Alaska Natives are spending less on lobbying firms in the wake of the Jack Abramoff scandal.

Not everyone is hurting though. First on ICT's list is Ietan Consulting (Website | Data), a firm whose lobbying fees have slowly risen in the past couple of years, according to the data.

In 2005, the firm took in $1.5 million from tribal clients, Major clients include the prominent San Manuel Band of Mission Indians from California ($260,000 in fees); the Saginaw Chippewa Tribe of Michigan, a former client of Abramoff's ($200,000 in fees); and the wealthy Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation of Connecticut ($160,000 in fees).

Ietan's biggest client, according to the data, is the Seminole Tribe of Florida, with a $380,000 in fees last year. The tribe operates a highly successful gaming operation.

Listed second by ICT is Holland & Knight (Website | Data). The firm is one of the largest in Washington and raked in the most tribal fees in 2005 -- $2.08 million, according to the data.

Top clients include the Jicarilla Apache Tribe of New Mexico ($420,000); the Tohono O'Odham Nation of Arizona ($240,000); the Pechanga Band of Luiseno Mission Indians from California ($240,000); and the National Indian Gaming Association ($160,000).

Another top lobbyist, according to ICT, is Jana McKeag. She doesn't boast of many clients -- her fees aren't reported by the Center for Responsive Politics -- but she has consistently represented the Prairie Island Indian Community, a wealthy gaming tribe from Minnesota, and Sodak Gaming, a company with big interests in Indian Country, for several years.

McKeag, a member of the Cherokee Nation, currently serves as chairman of the Indian Arts and Crafts Board at the Interior Department.

Tom Rodgers of Carlyle Consulting (Website | Data) also makes ICT's cut. But his tribal lobbying revenues have somewhat dropped from a high of $760,000 in 2003, the year before the scandal broke, to $620,000 in 2005.

His biggest client has been the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas, whose leaders unwittingly helped finance a lavish golf trip to Scotland that was organized by Abramoff. The tribe is now suing Abramoff and several of his associates for fraud after learning that Abramoff worked to shut down the tribe's casino.

Paul Moorehead, a former Senate Indian Affairs Committee staffer who is a frequent source for ICT articles, and his employer Gardner Carton & Douglas (Website | Data) also land on the list. The firm's expanding tribal client list contributed to a rise in its overall lobbying revenue -- $3.3 million in 2005, a big spike from $1.5 million in 2004.

Tribal clients include the Confederated Colville Tribes of Oregon ($140,000); the Mohegan Tribe of Connecticut ($160,000); the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community from Minnesota ($140,000) and the Southern Ute Tribe of Colorado ($220,000).

Two other firms and lobbyists, Pace-Capstone (Website | Data) and Patricia Zell, land on ICT's list as well. Pace reported $420,000 last year from tribal clients while Zell's only filing in 2005 was $20,000 for the Office of Hawaiian Affairs.

ICT Series - A lineup of lobbyist:
Part 2 | Part 1

Lobbying Database:
Casinos/Gambling (Center for Responsive Politics)