Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Indian casino lobbyist scandal

Re Wednesday's Star editorial on allegations that Mississippi Indian casinos have donated money to keep gambling out of neighboring Alabama: here are a few links of interest

Lou Dubose of The Texas Observer has some background on the matter currently being probed by the Senate's Indian Affairs Committee.

The Washington Post recently editorialized on the scandal:
WHEN HIS NAME surfaced in connection with the Senate Indian Affairs Committee investigation of lobbyists Jack Abramoff and Michael Scanlon, Rep. Robert W. Ney (R-Ohio) presented himself as another victim of the rapacious duo, who collected $66 million from casino-operating Indian tribes that sought their help to stay in business. Like the tribes, Mr. Ney said, he was duped by Mr. Abramoff when the lobbyist sought his help in getting a tribal casino reopened.

Maybe so. But Mr. Ney also pocketed large campaign contributions from the Tigua tribe of El Paso -- contributions steered his way by Mr. Abramoff -- and then pushed the tribe's cause in Congress. And he continued to embrace that cause well beyond the time he claims to have lost interest.

Another piece in the Washington Post, written by Thomas B. Edsall, finds that:
Shortly after Republicans took control of Congress in 1994, tribal leaders of the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians approached lobbyist Jack Abramoff with a problem. The tribe's Silver Star Hotel & Casino had barely opened and already legislation was moving forward in Congress calling for Indian casinos to be taxed in the same manner as Las Vegas gambling facilities.
Abramoff knew how to take care of the Choctaws. He convinced the House Republican leadership that it had violated a core principle of the new conservative majority: It had raised taxes. The legislation was scuttled.
With Indian gambling revenue now exceeding $16 billion annually, Abramoff's success saved the tribes hundreds of millions of dollars. Soon, he was representing half a dozen other Indian tribes, some paying his firm $2 million or more a year.

The Montgomery Advertiser nicely covers the Alabama angle, including comments from Ralph Reed.
In response to that story and others, the Christian Coalition offered this denial.