Opinion: Candidates refuse Indian contributions
"Sen. John McCain of Arizona, the presumptive Republican nominee, has by far the longest and most involved history with tribes, representing one of the more Indian-populated states in the country. As a two-term chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, his long-standing position on the necessity to improve Indian economic and social conditions is well documented.

Sen. Hillary Clinton has a strong history with tribes, most notably as first lady. As the junior senator from New York, a state with a strong Indian population, she continues to show an interest in Indian affairs.

Over the past few months, Sen. Barack Obama has vastly improved his campaign position on Indian issues, inspiring many within Indian country to support this relative newcomer to national politics.

If tribal governments were any other kind of entity in the United States, a smart strategy would be to participate in the political process surrounding a presidential race. Even with the advent of campaign finance reform, presidential elections still offer opportunities for individuals and entities to influence a candidate's position and attempt to secure commitments through, among other things, the contribution of funds to the candidates' political campaigns.

However, tribes presently are under the impression that the candidates have taken a ''no, thank you'' position about accepting tribal contributions to their individual presidential campaigns. This is an impression rather than a known fact because campaigns have refused to go on record about their policies regarding tribal contributions. Repeated requests to each campaign manager and their press offices continue to go unanswered on this simple question: ''What is your official position on accepting political contributions from tribal governments?''

This question is being asked by more and more of our elected officials in Indian country and they deserve an honest answer. We know that the unofficial position is ''No!'' In fact, one candidate recently returned a sizable contribution from a successful gaming tribe and another flatly refuses to accept contributions from any tribal government. Are we not worthy of contributing to these campaigns? Tribes are asking why they are being targeted, as if the money is politically tainted."

Get the Story:
Leland McGee: C'mon, just take the money! (Indian Country Today 5/23)

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