The Lincoln Plawg - the blog with footnotes

Politics and law from a British perspective (hence Politics LAW BloG): ''People who like this sort of thing...'' as the Great Man said

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Saturday, November 20, 2004

Poetic justice for corrupt gaming Indians

There are a multitude of reasons to hold the US political system in contempt; but battling for a place in the Top Ten is the creation and maintenance of the Indian gaming racket [1].

(Cliff Notes: gambling produces greenbacks in quantities second only to the Bureau of Printing and Engraving [2]; profit margins are high, leaving loads of non-consecutive lettuce available to be stuffed into brown envelopes.)

Now, some tribes which thirty years ago were dirt-poor are rolling in wampum [3]; and one or two of these nouveaux riches outfits, desirous of preserving their privileged operations but inexperienced in the technique of corruption, have been caught out.

Susan Schmidt (Steno Sue to her many detractors) got onto the Post's front page on Thursday with the sordid tale: the Tiguas of El Paso [4] had it seems suffered the misfortune of having their cash cow slaughtered back in 2002; they needed a rider added to, as it turned out, the Electoral Reform Act of 2002 in order to get it re-opened; and they paid a couple of operatives, Jack Abramoff and Michael Scanlon, the small matter of $4.2 million to get it done.

It seems that Dem Senator Chris Dodd and GOP Rep Robert Ney were to be the object of this little piece of business.

In the event, no rider was forthcoming, and now the Tiguas are bleating - on Wednesday, to the Indian Affairs Committee - that the agents of their sleazy conspiracy had ripped them off!

All the more amazing is the fact that the two funsters had previously been on the team (organised by Ralph Reed, apparently) that had had the Tiguas' casino shut down in the first place!

The committee members' outrage, according to Thursday's piece, is directed not to the corruption intended by the Tiguas (what else could the tribe have thought the $4.2 million would be spent on?) but the dastardly forked-tongued white men.

(The $64,000 question - how much had the gentlemen on the IAC received over the years in benefits derived from Indian gaming - Steno Sue notably fails to ask, even rhetorically. They clearly have conflicts of interest out the wazoo...)

One example of Abramoff and Scanlon's MO I find particularly endearing:
Abramoff came up with a plan to provide term life insurance to tribal elders, who would make their beneficiary a Jewish school Abramoff founded in Wheaton. The school would pay Abramoff's lobbying fees at the firm of Greenberg Traurig, from which he was ousted earlier this year.

Now that's what I call hardball!

And guess who
expressed dismay that Abramoff allegedly schemed to make money "by putting prices on the lives of tribal elders."?
The same guy who is trying to ensure that the evidence is destroyed that might tell us the truth about the identity and origins of Kennewick Man, Head Indian in Charge Ben Nighthorse Campbell (my piece on November 18).

Schmidt comments that
The documents and testimony provided an unusually stark look at the way Indian gambling riches have become part of Washington lobbying and fundraising.

One wonders whether, under a new chairman, the IAC in the 109th Congress won't find it prudent to shut down the investigation into Indian gaming corruption and turn to other matters less liable to embarrass its members.

As the man said, there's no honour among thieves...

  1. Whose evils I've discussed a number of times here.

  2. Which I'd never heard of till Mr Google just now put me right. The number that sticks in my head for the annual revenues of the California gaming tribes alone is $5 billion. I've never seen a number for all 50 states.

  3. The unlucky tribes are still dirt-poor. There is absolutely no justice (social, natural or any other) in the distribution of gaming wealth amongst the nation's Indians.

  4. Prince of Darkness Tom DeLay is so very far from having a monopoly of skulduggery in the Lone Star State!

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