Rahall: End the trust fund charade
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The following is a statement by U.S. Rep. Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.), the ranking member of the House Resources Committee, on Judge Lamberth's ruling today.

"Secretary Norton testified before the House Resources Committee last February that the Department of Interior does not have the documentation to complete a full accounting of Indian trust funds, yet for some unknown reason the Administration continues to go into federal court and claim the exact opposite. This smoke-and-mirrors show must end.

"The rhetoric over the Cobell lawsuit is almost as out of control as the trust fund management itself. We now have people working behind the scenes trying to discredit the judge in this case and claiming that this entire issue is somehow a partisan attack by Democrats. If it were not so tragic, it might be funny. From my vantage point, this conservative, Reagan-appointed federal judge is just trying to work through this case with the goal of fixing the Indian trust fund management fiasco. That should be the same goal of Secretary Norton, yet sadly it is not.

"While Secretary Norton inherited the long standing problems with Indian trust fund management and the Cobell lawsuit itself, she has been found in contempt for actions taken on her own watch. The other undeniable fact is that millions of defendants have gone before federal courts without being held in contempt. It is embarrassing that the federal government cannot seem to do the same. To compound this problem by attacking the court itself shows me just how far from addressing the real problem we still remain.

"If they were half as good at counting the bucks as they are at passing buck, we would be much better off.

"After legislation from Congress and actions taken by the Department of Interior failed to provide adequate reform of Indian trust funds management, a class action lawsuit was filed on behalf of 300,000 individual Indian account holders. From the beginning the Administration lawyers have done everything in their power to keep from admitting the magnitude of the management problems.

"We must keep our eye on the ball - the Cobell lawsuit must be settled and finger pointing must stop. Indian account holders must receive fair and accurate payment for their resources in order to be able to pay for food, clothes, and medicine. To focus attention on any other matter is a waste of time and a disgraceful disservice to hundreds of thousands of Indian account holders."

Today on Indianz.Com:
Norton found in contempt for trust fund (9/17)

Get the Decision:
Contempt Findings | Contempt Order | Appointing Special Master-Monitor | Denying Motion to Revoke Court Monitor Appointment | Setting Third Contempt Trial

Relevant Documents:
DOI Statement (9/17) | House Resources Committee Chairman Jim Hansen (R-Utah) (9/17)

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

Related Stories:
Your Ultimate Guide to Contempt (9/5)