The Bureau of Indian Affairs
“More Than a Century of Mismanagement”
Sightings from The Catbird Seat
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A Broken Trust
The government cannot account for
billions of dollars
it owes to Native Americans.
by Tom Dunkel and Bill Hogan, Motherjones.com
Josephine Wild Gun lives with her son’s family in a run-down house on the Blackfeet reservation in Heart Butte, Montana. Like many of her neighbors, she owns several tracts of reservation land that are held in trust by the US government. Federal officials manage her nearly 10,000 acres, leasing much of the property to private interests for grazing and oil drilling.
In return, Wild Gun is supposed to receive royalties from the Indian Trust Fund, created in 1887 to oversee such payments to Native Americans.
But despite the lucrative leases, Wild Gun has never received more than $1,500 a year from the trust fund. A few years ago, the payments began trickling off; one check totaled only 87 cents. When her husband died in 1994, Wild Gun had to borrow money to pay for the funeral. Now in her early 80s, she survives on less than $400 a month in Social Security. “I think they’re cheating her really big,” says Wild Gun’s daughter-in-law, Diana.
Wild Gun is one of approximately 300,000 Native Americans who are suing the Interior Department, claiming that they are owed at least $10 billion in payments on some 10 million acres. The fund is in such disarray, the government concedes, that it doesn’t have any way of knowing how much it actually owes – or to whom.
“It’s a total mess,” says Elouise Cobell, the lead plaintiff in the class-action lawsuit. “They’ve stolen from the Indians because we’re minorities and we’re poor. It’s one of the biggest cover-ups in the history of the country.”
Cobell’s harsh assessment is shared by Republican John McCain of Arizona, a member of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, who calls the fund’s mismanagement a “national scandal,” and by US District Judge Royce Lamberth, who is hearing the case. “I’ve never seen more egregious misconduct by the federal government,” the judge declared.
This spring, Lamberth is expected to consider placing the fund in the hands of a court-appointed receiver, a move that would give the judiciary an unprecedented degree of control over an entire federal bureaucracy.
The trust fund proved to be a disaster from the start. To give the government greater control of tribal lands, Congress divided reservations into parcels called “allotments” and awarded them to each member of a tribe-but reserved the authority to manage the property.
Anyone who wanted to lease Indian-owned lands made their payments directly to the government, which was then supposed to pass the money along to the Indians who had been allotted the lands.
But officials of the Bureau of Indian Affairs often failed to collect lease payments-and when they did, the money didn’t always make its way to Native Americans. As many as 90 percent of the fund’s records may be missing, and the few that are available are in comically bad condition.
An Interior Department report provided to the court refers to storage facilities plagued by problems ranging from “poisonous spiders in the vicinity of stored records” to “mixed records strewn throughout the room with heavy rodent activity.”
Federal officials have “spent more than 100 years mismanaging, diverting, and losing money that belongs to Indians,” says John Echohawk of the Native American Rights Fund, which is directing the lawsuit.
“They have no idea how much has been collected from the companies that use our land and are unable to provide even a basic, regular statement to most Indian account holders.”
In 1999, Judge Lamberth found Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt and Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin in contempt for failing to produce documents and slapped the government with a $625,000 fine. But the effort to sort out delinquent payments drags on.
In December, the judge began considering contempt charges against Babbitt’s successor, Gale Norton, for providing “false and misleading” information about the government’s attempts to clean up the fund.
Norton has fought the charges and has established a new agency to oversee Indian accounts, but the senior official in charge of overhauling the system admitted in an internal memo last year that the government’s implementation plan submitted to Lamberth was based on “wishful thinking and rosy projections.”
In December, the judge also ordered the Interior Department to shut down most of its Internet operations after an investigator discovered that the department’s computer system allowed hackers easy access to Indian trust accounts.
With the Internet off-limits for weeks, many federal employees could not receive or respond to emails, and thousands of visitors to national parks were unable to make online reservations for campsites. The shutdown also prevented the trust fund from making payments to more than 43,000 Indians, many of whom depend on the quarterly checks to make ends meet. In Montana and Wyoming, some beneficiaries were forced to apply for tribal loans to help them through the holidays.
The check delays heightened the frustrations of Native Americans, who have asked Lamberth to take control of the trust fund. In December, a special master appointed by the court issued a 154-page report urging the judge to name an independent receiver to oversee the fund. “Without such direct oversight,” the report concluded, “the threat to records crucial to the welfare of hundreds of thousands of beneficiaries will continue unchecked.”
However the current case is resolved, the problem is likely to get even bigger in the coming months. The accounts now under dispute involve only royalties owed to individual Indians; some tribes are expected to file new lawsuits to recoup payments they are owed on 38 million acres of tribal land. Taxpayers have already spent an estimated $800 million to sort out the fund’s records and pay for the government’s court defense. Yet officials appear no closer to making past-due payments.
“Right now all they have is a plan to make a plan,” says Keith Harper, an attorney with the Native American Rights Fund.
“Our view is, beneficiaries can’t wait that long.”
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January 4, 2006
Lobbyist Abramoff’s Clients Made
Donations To Sen. Inouye
KITV 4 News
HONOLULU – KITV has learned that Sen. Dan Inouye was among dozens of Congress members who received campaign donations from lobbyist Jack Abramoff or his clients.
Abramoff on Wednesday pleaded guilty to felonies that insiders say have brought corruption to a new level in Washington. Abramoff admitted bribing members of Congress.
Abramoff pleaded guilty in Florida and Washington courts to five felony counts. As part of his pleas, Abramoff will help investigators determine if gifts and donations from him and his clients helped buy favorable treatment from lawmakers.
Inouye received a total of $6,000 from Abramoff’s Indian clients during the years 2002 to 2004. He received $2,000 from the Mississippi Band of choctaw Indians, $2,000 from the Pueblo of Sandia and $2,000 from the Agua Caliente Bank.
In a written statement, Inouye said those tribes contributed to his campaigns for years before Abramoff retained them.
Rep. Neil Abercrombie received $2,000 in 2002 from the Agua Caliente Band before they became a client of Abramoff. Abercrombie received two donations from the tribe in 2001 and once in February 2002. Abramoff began working for the tribe in July 2002.
Abercrombie is a member of the House committee that handles Indian affairs.
Abercrombie said the and other committee members got donations from the Indian tribe because it already trusted them to do the right thing. Not because Abramoff was trying to buy influence.
“He’s a sleaze bag. He stole from his clients who gave him money in good faith,” Abercrombie said….
– For more poop on where the wampum went, GO TO > > > Capital Eye
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November 10, 2005
Call on Gale Norton to Testify:
Interior Secretary’s Fingerprints all over
Indian Gaming Scandal
Denver – ProgressNow.org sent a letter to Senator McCain this morning asking him to call on Secretary of Interior Gale Norton to testify about her role in the Indian gaming scandal during the Committee on Indian Affairs hearing scheduled for next Thursday, November 17th. To date only one witness has been called who is a former campaign aide to Norton and the president of a political group founded by Norton that received hundreds of thousands of dollars from Indian casinos.
“We ask Sen. McCain to invite Secretary Norton to testify on her involvement in and her knowledge of any undue influence on behalf of Indian casinos,” stated Michael Huttner, Executive Director of ProgressNow.org. “Given that there is now evidence that Sec. Norton’s fingerprints are all over the scandal, she should be required to answer questions about her role in it.”
Former Committee hearings revealed that Sec. Norton’s personal aide, through an advocacy group that Sec. Norton founded, collected at least $250,000 from Jack Abramoff and his casino clients. Dept. of Interior records reveal that this aide repeatedly contacted Sec. Norton and her top deputy at Interior on behalf of Abramoff who sought to have Sec. Norton ban a competing Indian casino from opening.
Norton ruled for the Abramoff casinos’ interest but claims she wasn’t influenced by her aide or her top deputy.
Yet earlier this year Sec. Norton admitted that she had a “few contacts” with the aide and the political group that funneled the money. She also admitted she had “brief discussions” with the group after becoming Secretary of the Interior.
We would like Norton to disclose the details of the ‘few contacts’ and ‘brief discussions’ with this political group under investigation,” noted Huttner. “A through investigation requires Sec. Norton to disclose the lobbying around her decision which helped Abramoff’s casino clients, yet she has not been questioned.”
The Norton Fingerprints:
1. Gale Norton had dinner with Jack Abramoff and his Indian casino clients on September 24, 2001 after they had sent a $50,000 check to the political group Norton founded on March 1, 2001.
2. Norton’s Chief Deputy, J. Steve Griles, had numerous discussions with Abramoff-who represented the casinos-about the Indian casinos and even admitted that he had conversations about potentially working for Abramoff’s lobbying firm.
3. Norton former personal aide, Italia Federici, took over the political organizations that Norton founded and received hundreds of thousands of dollars from Abramoff and his casino clients. She has been subpoenaed to testify next Thursday, after eluding Federal Marshals last week.
4. There were hundreds of thousands of dollars funneled by Abramoff to the group Norton founded that Norton later admitted she had a ‘few contacts’ and ‘brief discussions’ since she became Secretary.
5. FOIA request revealed that there were additional contacts with Italia Federici, including a reception on 3/6/01, a planned call at 10:00a.m. on 4/30/01, a meeting on 7/10/01 and a reception on 9/1/04.
Indian Affairs Committee will hold its next hearing on Indian gaming next Thursday, November 17, 2005. To date the only witness is Italia Federici, Gale Norton’s former aide who took over the political group, Council for Republicans for Environmental Advocacy (CREA) that Norton founded.
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ProgressNow is a nonpartisan, grassroots media nerve center which mission is to be a strong credible voice in advancing progressive solutions to critical community problems….
Progress Now | Press Release: Call on Gale Norton to testify
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WHERE’S THE OUTRAGE?…
December 12, 2003
CGI inks $19.5M pact with federal division
Dallas Business Journal
CGI Group Inc. said it has signed a five-year, $19.5 million contract with the Bureau of Indian Affairs for technology outsourcing services.
Under the agreement, CGI will provide data development, conversion and related support services for the bureau’s 55.7 million acres of land assets across the United States. The bureau is part of the U.S. Department of the Interior.
Also as part of the contract, CGI will use its training facility to train bureau workers on its asset and accounting management software system.
Work will be handled mainly by CGI’s Dallas-based data center, where the bureaus’ data will be housed.
The agreement renews an existing relationship between CGI and the federal division that began in 1998 with the signing of an initial outsourcing contract, CGI said in a statement.
CGI (NYSE: GIV), a technology outsourcer, has its headquarters in Montreal….
Company Web Site: www.cgi.ca
For more outrageous outsourcing, GO TO > > > Black Berets-Red China; The Story of Enron; Marsh & McLennan’s Mercer Consulting; Zephyr Insurance
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September 18, 2002
Norton and McCaleb found guilty of
contempt of court
Join ranks of former officials Babbitt and Gover
by: Jim Adams, Indian Country Today
WASHINGTON, D.C. — In a decision dripping with years of frustration, the federal judge hearing the Indian Trust Fund class action suit found Interior Secretary Gale Norton and Assistant Interior Secretary of Indian Affairs Neal McCaleb guilty of contempt of court.
The ruling, in a spin-off from the main case, found the two officials had “committed a fraud upon the court” on five issues central to resolving the Trust Fund debacle involving massive funds, possibly as much as $10 billion, owed to at least 300,000 individual Indian trust account holders and further sums owed to tribes.
“The department has now undeniably shown that it can no longer be trusted to state accurately the status of its trust reform efforts. In short, there is no longer any doubt that the Secretary of Interior has been and continues to be an unfit trustee-delegate for the United States,” wrote U.S. District Court Judge Royce C. Lamberth.
Norton did have some defenders, U. S. Rep. J.D. Hayworth, R.–Ariz., co-chair of the Congressional Native American Caucus, praised Norton’s “extraordinary attention” to the 115-year -old problem and called the ruling “misdirected, unfair and untimely.” . . .
The case has been before Judge Lamberth in the U. S. District Court for the District of Columbia since 1999, and he previously issued contempt orders against Clinton Administration officials Bruce Babbitt, then Secretary of the Interior, and Kevin Gover, his Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs.
The decision leaves open the question of future control of the trust accounts. Rather than put them into receivership, as class-action plaintiff Elouise Cobell has requested, for now Judge Lamberth promoted court monitor, Joseph S. Kieffer III, to the role of special master-monitor with added powers to enforce court orders.
Kieffer, who has been court monitor since April 2001, issuing scathing reports on Interior’s progress and for coming under fire from Norton’s attorneys, who called for his removal. . . .
For more on Gale Norton, GO TO > > > Birds on the Power Lines; The Nature Conservancy
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July 31, 2002
Indians’ special trustee leaves post
By Billy House, Republic Washington Bureau
WASHINGTON – Thomas Slonaker, the special trustee for American Indians who has clashed with the Bush administration over fixing the government’s historically mismanaged Indian trust fund system, has resigned.
His resignation, effective Tuesday, comes after a special court monitor declared in a May 5 report that Interior Secretary Gail Norton hasn’t given Slonaker the support he needed to fulfill his fund oversight duties. Slonaker took over the job in the final months of the Clinton administration.
“It has been my pleasure to serve two presidents of the United States as the special trustee for American Indians,” Slonaker, who is from Phoenix, wrote in his resignation letter to President Bush. . . .
In a statement released by the Interior Department, Slonaker added, “I have worked diligently to highlight a number of important issues that must be resolved for trust reform to be successful in the long term.”
Norton, in her own prepared statement, thanked Slonaker for his service and wished him well. She also announced that Donna Erwin, the deputy special trustee for projects and operations, is being appointed acting special trustee.
The Interior Department has held American Indian-owned lands in trust since 1887, leasing the properties and managing revenues.
In 1996, a group of Native American beneficiaries filed a class-action lawsuit, contending that shoddy bookkeeping over the decades has caused the government to lose track of billions of dollars owed and to whom.
The Bureau of Indian Affairs continues to hold in trust about 11 million acres. Some valuable oil and gas leases pay thousands of dollars a month.
In 1999, a federal district judge found then-Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt and then-Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin in civil contempt for not producing records and documents on the trusts they initially said they would produce. Many had been lost or destroyed. The judge also ordered the Interior and Treasury departments to begin piecing together how much is owed.
But Slonaker, as the special trustee for the funds, ran afoul of Norton when he refused to vouch for a quarterly progress report on efforts toward fixing the management of the funds.
His testimony proved damaging to Norton and other top Interior officials during yet another contempt hearing earlier this year.
Slonaker’s departure from the post created by Congress to provide independent oversight of the Indian money, prompted concern from advocates and admirers.
Keith Harper, a lawyer with the Native American Rights Fund, said, “This is clearly a penalization, a retaliation, for him telling the truth.”
“Mr. Slonaker’s resignation is just one more sign that legislation is clearly necessary to cause reform to the Interior Department’s management of Indian trust funds,” said Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.
“It’s shameful that we can work to reform corporate America, yet we cannot resolve a century-old problem of returning Indian money to its beneficiaries.”…
Catbird ponderings: I wonder why we don’t hear a peep from Senators Dan Inouye and Dan Akaka on this? Is this the TRUE REALITY of what will happen to the native Hawaiian’s if the AKAKA BILL passes in Congress?
For more on “valuable oil and gas leases,” on Indian lands, GO TO > > > The Myth & The Methane
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December 15, 2002
most from casinos
By WILLIAM SAFIRE
WASHINGTON — We were told that the glitzy gambling casinos springing up on Indian reservations across the land would lift poor Indians out of poverty. Certainly the slot machines and gaming tables produce plenty of money. The nearly 300 casinos pull in almost $13 billion a year in revenue, of which more than $5 billion is pure profit.
But where is that money going?
In Time magazine’s cover story last week, titled “Wheel of Misfortune: Look Who’s Cashing In at Indian Casinos,” Donald Barlett and James Steele — a team twice awarded Pulitzer Prizes when at The Philadelphia Inquirer — present the troubling answer.
A few tribes near big cities haul in as much as $900,000 per member. States with only 3 percent of the Indian population — California, Florida and Connecticut — take in 44 percent of the gambling revenue, while states with half our 1.8 million Indians account for less than 3 percent of the take. The poorest of our aboriginal Americans are getting poorer, while non-Indians get rich hiring lobbyists to get federal recognition of a tribal front for the sole purpose of buying land to build a casino.
Lim Goh Tong, for example, is the Malaysian contractor billionaire behind the Foxwoods spread in Connecticut. As a foreigner, he can legally avoid most U.S. taxes on his profit, likely to run about $40 million a year.
The South African developer Sol Kerzner, “first of the Mohegans,” worked a similar deal that was OK’d by a federal official now doing just fine as a lobbyist.
And Minnesota’s Lyle Berman, a tycoon reported to have taken down $18 million a year in salary and stock options in his leather business, has a hot casino deal going near Chicago. And those are only the most blatant examples of non-Indians cashing in.
I’m a free-enterprise freak who doesn’t begrudge big profits to investors who take big risks, but this is no gamble; rather it is a financial-political scandal of stunning proportions.
Under the cover of helping the 28 percent of Indians now mired in poverty, financial vultures and highly paid, revolving-door lobbyists are ripping off the U.S. taxpayer and promoting a noxious something-for-nothing slots philosophy — not to mention degrading the countrysiide’s moral and physical environment — by gaming the American political systeem.
Who’s to blame?
The Department of the Interior, with its moribund Indian Affairs bureau, professes to have no authority to oversee the National Indian Gaming Commission, whose three members have just been appointed by Secretary Gale Norton. The new chairman, Philip Hogen, a friendly member of South Dakota’s Oglala Sioux, was a commissioner through the late ’90s and will rock no boats.
He tells me he was “disappointed” with the critical tone of Time’s story (another one is coming) and notes that even the small, less profitable casinos far from big-city markets provide some jobs for Indians. What about the secrecy, fraud, corruption and intimidation rife in so many lucrative tribal casino operations? Hogen’s agency has only 63 employees to inspect and audit the $13 billion take in the nearly 300 all-cash businesses.
Despite many complaints, that toothless tiger has never uncovered a single case of corruption.
Here’s why: The casino tribes lobbied for, and Congress supinely agreed to, a cap of $8 million that can be collected from casinos to finance the nation’s Indian gaming commission. That should be tripled.
Will Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell, next chairman of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, ask why, as Rep. Frank Wolf notes, 80 percent of the Indians in the United States have received not one nickel from skyrocketing gambling revenues?
Will Rep. Jimmy Duncan of Tennessee, likely to head House Resources in January, pull that committee’s head out of the sand?
Will House Government Reform, under Tom Davis or Chris Cox, dare to hold hearings on a scandal rooted in the manipulation of Congress?
Hard-hitting reporting will help. Casino press agents will continue to trot out warm and cozy stories of hospitals and schools built and Indian lives rehabilitated by gambling money, each one true, but distorting the whole truth of a rapacious operation protected by politicians fearful of seeming unkind to Indians.
The result has been attention to the few, neglect of the many, and the herding of a proud people into the demeaning culture of slots and croupiers.
William Safire is a columnist with The New York Times. – Copyright 2002 New York Times News Service.
For more on Indian Casinos, GO TO > > > The Game Birds
For more on Sol Kerzner, GO TO > > > Predators in Paradise
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Dave Henry must be saying, “I told you so!”...
From An Impossible Dream?:
Stealing from Indians
Inside the Bureau of Indian Affairs, an Expose of Corruption, Massive Fraud and Justice Denied.
Federal employees are in a unique position to see what really goes on inside our bureaus and agencies and, in situations where ethical standards demand it, have a responsibility to point out fraud and corruption.
So it was with Dave Henry, a CPA employed by the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), who in his internal audit reports sounded a clear alarm about huge cash shortages in the Trust Funds held for our Native Americans by the BIA, along with other similar BIA funds.
You may have heard about that issue recently, or other disturbing news about the BIA.
U.S. News & World Report magazine (11/28/94) described the BIA as “The Worst Federal Agency,” bar none.
At a congressional hearing (House Report-499), the Inspector General of Interior described the BIA as “a multifaceted monster” and “an organizational nightmare,” and further stated that “the BIA is a tinder box simply waiting for a spark.”
Dave Henry is this “spark” who has for ten year been trying to get this fraud exposed to the public and he demands reform in the agency that controls so much of the lives of our Native American citizens.
He was fired by BIA for speaking honest words, and went through years of fruitless appeals with an alphabet-soup of federal agencies, none of which would grant a hearing on the merits of his case.
This is a common pattern for federal whistleblowers, the chance of a hearing is less that one in a thousand. . . .
Still, his raised voice has produced some results. The Arizona Republic did a front page story on his case (11/22/87) and their investigative series inspired the U.S. Senate to conduct a two year investigation of the Bureau of Indian Affairs.
In April, 1992, Senator Daniel K. Inouye wrote Henry and said: “It appears that your work was among the early efforts that revealed the greater problem with Indian Trust Fund Management and accounting that is now recognized to pertain to the Bureau of Indian Affairs. The accuracy of your findings was later confirmed and acknowledged. … Despite the laws we have enacted … injustices still do occur and may have well occurred in your case… I do believe you have performed a valuable service. …”
Henry continued his appeals through the federal court system, including the U.S. Supreme Court, without legal help, and still his case was never heard.
He wrote a book on the subject, and at a Billings Town Meeting in June, 1995 managed to hand President Clinton a copy of the book.
The President said he would “look into it” and that he would “get back to” Henry, but nothing of substance resulted. . . .
It has been reported that:
>> Information fed into the BIA’s computer system is disorganized and erroneous.
>> An estimated $5.8 billion has not been collected (since 1979) from companies that pump oil and gas from reservation lands *, thus robbing Indians.
>> In some cases, money that belonged to individual Indians and tribes was deposited in slush funds through accounts set up under phony names.
>> There are 30 recent incidents in which federal employees were allegedly involved in theft, embezzlement and fraud of Indian reservations, yet few were prosecuted.
>> BIA sponsored Indian programs failed to improve the economies of reservations, and the BIA failed to provide quality education for Indian children.
>> Housing programs are riddled with scandal, and housing in many areas is shockingly substandard.
>> Indian health remains poor, with diabetes reaching epidemic proportions on some reservations.
>> The BIA cannot manage its own money, or account for millions in equipment and supplies.
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BIA TRIES TO BAIL OUT OF THE FIRE
On 12/13/96 a national radio news report (NPR) leads me (Dave Henry) to believe that a settlement in compromise may be coming from BIA, not to exceed $600 million dollars.
Settlements generally require the recipient to sign a release, in this situation it would release BIA for any additional liability for the “trust care” due from collecting and holding these trust fund accounts. [According to a 12/12/96 Associated Press news article the government is considering paying Indian tribes hundreds of millions of dollars to avoid lawsuits over the mishandling of tribal trust funds….]
This would fully cover-up and whitewash the largest fraud in the history of the United States, at the expense of our much abused and impoverished … Native American citizens.
I demand that this continued stealing from Indians must stop now and forever more! …
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THANKS, DAVE HENRY! … from The Catbird.
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* For more on “companies that pump oil and gas from reservation lands,” GO TO > > > The Myth & The Methane
From USA Today, Nov 16, 2001:
Bureau of Indian Affairs Overhaul Begins
Interior Secretary Gale Norton stripped the Bureau of Indian Affairs of its oversight of billions of dollars of royalties from Indian land.
A new division was created to fix more than a century of trust mismanagement.
She created the Bureau of Indian Trust Assets Management and will appoint an official to overhaul it.
Norton and other government officials were under threat of being held in contempt of court for failing to reform the trust system.
In 1994, Congress ordered the department to institute reforms after years of mismanagement of mining, grazing, oil drilling and timber harvesting royalties.
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Catbird Catcall: Talk about the fox guarding the hen house!
The classic political ploy: Rob the prey for decades. When the heat in the hen house gets too hot, change the name of the hen house and appoint a new head rooster.
New name … new fox … same scam … same poor hens.
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Gale Norton – From Al Martin Raw, by Al Martin:
From Cradle to Cabal:
The Secret Life of Gale Norton
A True Blue Republican Party Apparatchik Also Rises
Gale Norton, the Bush designate for Secretary of Interior, was Attorney General of Colorado from 1991 to 1999. She was brought in after her predecessor Duane Woodard was forced to resign because of his involvement in illegal political contributions.
Incidentally Woodard through his involvement in a series of partnerships and corporations had borrowed over $70 million from the infamous Silverado Savings, which he never repaid.
He was recommended for these loans by then Silverado Director Neil Bush.
At the same time, Robert Gallagher, the Arapahoe County District Attorney, was appointed to investigate MDC Holdings Corp., a publicly traded company on the American Stock Exchange, controlled by the infamous Republican cabalist Leonard Millman. After an SEC investigation, MDC plead guilty in 1991, paid a $1.5 million fine and was under SEC supervision for three years.
Then Judge Richard G. Matsch (of the Oklahoma City Bombing Case fame) was assigned to the MDC Holdings case.
Denver US Attorney Mike Norton (no relation to Gale) was the prosecutor. Prior to his US Attorney appointment, Mike Norton ran for the Senate, and his campaign manager was the Chief Executive Officer of MDC Holdings, Larry Mizel. The Assistant US Attorneys in the case were Joseph Mackey and Greg Graff, whose brother, Robert Graff, was also an MDC Holdings Director.
Because of public and media pressure, the US Attorneys office indicted several of the vice presidents of MDC subsidiaries, including Richmond American Homes, one of the nation’s largest builders. They plead guilty.
At that point, Judge Matsch made a statement in open court that he was tired of the prosecution bringing in low level vice presidents before him and because of the serious evidence he expected the prosecutors to vigorously prosecute those who were at the top, David Mandarich and Larry Mizel, and that he would vigorously sentence those involved.
Within days, his daughter was dead.
The bizarre circumstances involved her “falling” into a volcano on Hawaii during a trip there with her boyfriend. An inside source claims that the boyfriend was planted on her. He supposedly met her in a grocery store, wined and dined her and had been dating her for about a month from the time Judge Matsch was assigned to the case.
Then because of the death of his daughter, the MDC case was reassigned to the Chief Judge of the Tenth Federal Circuit Court, Judge Sherman Finesilver.
Finesilver accepted a $1.5 million plea bargain from MDC and acquitted Mandarich while Judge Matsch was in mourning.
At that time, Robert Gallagher was appointed Special Assistant Attorney General by the Governor of Colorado to investigate the alleged political contributions of MDC Holdings.
Colorado Attorney General Woodard was named one of the recipients of illegal campaign money and he resigned.
With Woodard gone and Gallagher’s investigation completed, Gale Norton, the new Attorney General, took the investigation report and doctored it, eliminating evidence of wrongdoing by MDC Holdings and its officials, especially Larry Mizel.
And how was Gale Norton paid off?
She was allowed to hire six new attorneys for her staff to interface with Colorado state officials, congressmen and senators.
Eyewitness reports have described only two attorneys on staff in the basement offices and the other four attorneys were never seen. Evidently the notorious M&L Business Machines, a subsidiary of MDC Holdings, had laundered the attorneys payroll checks for Gale Norton’s benefit.
In fact, M & L Business Machines president Robert Joseph testified before a US Federal Grand Jury that the payroll checks for Gale Norton’s phantom attorneys were indeed laundered through M& L Business Machines.
Assistants to Gale Norton were further advised and evidence was turned over to them about their boss’s criminal activity and obstruction of justice.
Later when allegations of corruption concerning Silverado Savings and Loan and Denver International Airport appeared on an official report, Gale Norton again rewrote the report omitting any accounts of wrongdoing by her real bosses, Leonard Millman and the Denver Boys.
When Gale Norton left the Attorney General’s office, she was rewarded, given a partnership at the infamous Denver-based Brownstein Law Firm….
So here are some of the connections. Norman Brownstein was on the Board of Directors of MDC Holdings, parent company of Silverado S&L and Richmond Homes, as well as MDC’s corporate counsel.
Brownstein was also on the Board of Directors of Chubb Securities, the insurance company which paid for Bill Clinton’s impeachment defense, the Paula Jones lawsuit damages, and other legal expenses.
Brownstein was on the Board of Directors of AIMCO, one of the largest apartment landlords in the US, which were former properties stolen from HUD.
Other MDC Directors include illegal campaign money and narcotics money launderer Larry Mizel, HUD scamscateer Phil Winn, recently pardoned by Bill Clinton, as well as Clinton’s personal attorney, James M. Lyons, who was also involved with the Whitewater Development fraud and illegal campaign money laundering related to Clinton’s 1992 presidential campaign.
M&L Industries was controlled by MDC Holdings Group, which is Leonard Millman. Gale Norton then was given the lucrative partnership with the law firm of Norman Brownstein.
By the way, Brownstein, a former Bush-era CIA counsel, made his claim to fame in representing Republican-connected scamscateers and CIA-connected dopers in the past.
Brownstein was also co-counsel for the defense of Jack Devoe.
Devoe was the largest CIA-connected cocaine trafficker during Iran-Contra.
Devoe received sentences totaling 117 years and spent 22 days in jail. Then he was allowed to leave the United States and take up residence in India, of all places. (For more details, see “ The Conspirators “)
When the SEC asked Norton to investigate the Boulder Properties Limited Partnerships, she dragged her feet and again came up with a clean report.
The assets of these limited partnerships was defaulted HUD property picked up by Leonard Millman, appraised for twice its value, and also formerly owned by Millman himself.
The financing for it came from a loan from Silverado S&L personally approved by Neil Bush.
Neil Bush then was put on the Board of General Partnership of the Boulder Properties Limited Series.
The intent of the Boulder Properties Limited Partnerships was to market them to potentially hostile Democrats in Congress for the purpose of compromise and control.
Congressman William V. Alexander, Democrat of Arkansas, for example, purchased one of them through Jonathan Flake, an officer of the selling agents, Twin Cities Bank of North Little Rock, Arkansas, and a cohort and close business associate of Oliver North.
Alexander made the purchase for $3 million dollars. No money down. Just recourse notes. Then in 1992, he was approached by Flake and asked to stop his Alexander Commission’s Iran-Contra probe. Alexander refused. The notes were pulled and made full recourse.
Since the partnership was not paying out any cash dividends anymore, Alexander had no choice but to declare bankruptcy. Congressman Alexander formally complained to Colorado Attorney General Gale Norton. Again Gale Norton undertook no action.
For the record, Gale Norton also used her authority as Attorney General to fight any increase in mining and mineral lease fees in the State of Colorado, which had not been raised since 1872.
She was also involved in keeping prices down on grazing fees, since her patron Leonard Millman, a large landowner, was on the Colorado beef marketing board. She continued to serve Leonard Millman by allowing the sale of BLM property at below market value.
Millman’s companies, Richmond Homes and Red Hawk Homes, as well as Venrock and Phoenix-based Olympic Corp., were the beneficiaries of her fraud. As US Secretary of Interior, Gale Norton will be able to orchestrate the continuing cover-up pertaining to sales of BLM land at below market value.
Before she’s confirmed, Gale Norton should probably be tested for drugs.
Doreen Bishop, the infamous Denver political gadfly, involved in Woody Harrelson’s campaign to legalize marijuana, claims that she supplies Norton with high grade sinsemilla. According to an inside source, she grows very high quality marijuana on her property, which an eyewitness reports “look like trees.”
She claims she sells the marijuana to all the politicians, including former Colorado Governor Romer, Gale Norton and “all the Denver crowd.”
She said even Denver Mayor Wellington Webb’s wife came over and picked some up for him.
The eyewitness also said that “this is the only gal I know where the FBI goes out to her house, stares at her marijuana plants and says, ‘Wow, I didn’t know they grew this big.'”
Incidentally, Norman Brokaw, the head of William Morris talent agency, is Doreen Bishop’s uncle. Her cousin is Tom Brokaw of the NBC Nightly News.
Doreen Bishop also admitted that Oliver North was “taken care of” to the tune of $40 million. Of course, North, formally represented by William Morris, has claimed that any payments made by William Morris were for his book or for appearances.
Yeah, sure, Ollie…
It’s well known that Ms. Norton frequents a certain Denver drinking establishment which caters to a female clientele of a certain sexual persuasion. There is also a prominent Denver area woman involved in politics who has publicly revealed the nature of her relationship with Ms. Norton to a prominent political investigative journalist with the Rocky Mountain News.
Since this column is devoted to serious political matters, perhaps it would be in the domain of the tabloid press to pursue these well-documented allegations. . . .
* * *
From Denver Rocky Mountain News, Jan 19, 2001:
Environmentalists protest Norton
3 Greenpeace workers arrested after unfurling
critical banner from atop Interior building
By M.E. Sprengelmeyer
WASHINGTON — Three Greenpeace workers were arrested early Thursday after getting onto the roof of the Interior Department headquarters and unfurling a banner protesting the nomination of Gale Norton to be interior secretary.
The protest was just after sunrise Thursday, while the former Colorado attorney general prepared for an afternoon confirmation hearing in the Senate.
Two Greenpeace workers got on the Interior Department roof, rappelled down the building’s columns and unfurled a sign reading:
“Bush & Norton: Our land, not oil land!”
Among other issues, Greenpeace opposes Norton for saying she supports oil exploration in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge — a position President-elect Bush shares.
“We need to save America’s treasures from the robber barons, not open them up to extractive industries like oil, timber and coal,” shouted protester Craig Culp, 40, of Baltimore after he lowered himself from the building and was carted off by federal officers.
Culp, fellow climber Bob Lyon, 30, of Chicago and rooftop lookout Pat Keyes, 26, of Washington, D.C., were arrested on disorderly conduct charges.
The message is meant to pressure the Bush administration not to open more public lands to mining, timber harvesting and oil drilling, whether or not Norton wins confirmation, said Greenpeace executive director John Passacantando.
“In a lot of ways, Gale Norton represents what Bush is afraid to tell the public” about his agenda, said Philip Radford, who works on campaigns against global warming for Greenpeace.
“We think the combination of Bush-Cheney and Gale Norton is an oil merger bigger than Exxon-Mobil.”
If confirmed, Norton would be the first woman to head the Interior Department, which oversees about a third of the nation’s land and most federally owned mineral and petroleum resources.
For more, GO TO > > > The Myth and The Methane
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From The Vancouver Sun, Jan 23, 2001:
Yukon aboriginals ready to fight
Bush White House over energy development
By Bob Weber
WHITEHORSE (CP) – If U.S. President George Bush wants to open a caribou-rich Alaska wilderness to energy drilling, he’ll have to fight Norma Kassi first.
Kassi is a member of the Vuntut Gwich’in, a Yukon aboriginal people that depend on the caribou for their daily groceries. The Vuntut are stepping up their aggressive, successful and well-funded American lobbying campaign in response to the White House’s new occupant.
“We have to do a lot educating with the new president,” says Kassi, of the International Gwich’in Steering Committee. “We’ve done very, very well in the past educating the U.S. public.”
Bush said during his election campaign that he supports opening the Arctic National Wildlife Reserve to oil and gas drilling. The area, in northeast Alaska near one of the largest oilfields in North America, is expected to hold significant petroleum reserves.
But the land, especially a narrow strip of coastal plain, is also the calving ground of the 150,000-head Porcupine caribou herd, one of the largest in the world. A recent study suggests that while caribou can live with rigs and pipelines much of the year, they don’t tolerate them during calving season.
The Gwich’in, who depend on the caribou for both spiritual and physical sustenance, have been fighting for years to keep development out of the plain.
They have maintained a lobbying campaign in Washington and throughout the United States for years. Such efforts are likely to increase, says Gladys Netro of the Porcupine caribou management board.
“We have to become stronger,” she says. “We have to speak to more American people.”
Funded by private foundations, other First Nations and the Yukon government, the Gwich’in already visit Washington to target specific politicians three or four times a year, says Joe Tetlichi, chairman of the management board. As well, Gwich’in volunteers travel the U.S. on a monthly basis to present slide shows at places like universities.
“They are very good and effective lobbyists,” says Deb Moore of the Northern Alaska Environment Centre.
“They bring it as a human rights issue, which is in many ways more important to members of Congress than an environmental issue.”
Human rights are at the heart of the debate, says Gladys Netro. She also serves on the management board and lives in Old Crow, a Gwich’in community of about 600 on the Porcupine herd’s migration route in northern Yukon .
“We believe it is our human right to live the way we want to,” she says. “We’ve made the choice to continue our way of life with the caribou.”
There are no roads into Old Crow and its one store stocks only staples such as flour and a few snacks. Kassi estimates that almost 90 per cent of the Gwich’in diet comes from caribou.
Netro said that when she was growing up, her family of 13 hunted about 20 caribou a year.
The herd comes through the tundra and stunted trees of the Old Crow area twice a year. At places such as river crossings, they bunch up into groups so big they can be heard long before they are seen.
In spring, the pregnant cows come first.
“It gives us security,” says Netro.
“When we see the caribou and when they pass through our community, we know the land is still well. When our people see the cows come first, it’s such a spiritual time.
“Our elders say, ‘Mahsi cho’ (Thank you).”
Federal Environment Minister David Anderson and the Yukon government are strongly opposed to drilling in the Alaska preserve. Two Canadian national parks along the Alaska-Yukon border were created partly to help preserve the Porcupine herd.
Drilling is supported by the state of Alaska. The Inupiat who live along the north shore also support drilling on the coastal plain, although they oppose offshore drilling, which is where their traditional hunting grounds lie.
Some facts about the Arctic National Wildlife Reserve and the controversy about energy development within it:
>> What it is – 81,000 square kilometres of mountain, meadow and coastal plain larger than New Brunswick. Caribou calving grounds on 4,000 square kilometres of coastal plain. Abuts two Canadian national parks.
>> Features – 180 bird species, Dall sheep, muskox, polar and grizzly bears, lynx, wolves, seal, caribou. “Among the most complete, pristine and undisturbed ecosystems on earth,” says U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
>> Oil promise – About 1.9 billion barrels of oil recoverable from coastal plain at cost of $24 US a barrel. Nearly one million barrels a day produced from fields west of refuge.
>> Concern – Coastal plain is caribou calving ground; recent study suggests pregnant cows avoid energy development.
>> Drilling proponents – U.S. President George Bush; State of Alaska; Inupiat people.
>> Opponents – Governments of Canada and Yukon, Gwich’in people in five Yukon and Northwest Territories communities, environmental groups.
“An alliance of Indigenous Peoples empowering Indigenous Nations and communities towards sustainable livelihoods, environmental protection of our lands, water, air and maintaining the Sacred Fire of our traditions.”
* * *
January 23, 2001
Native Groups oppose
Cite her attacks on Native American Sovereignty
American Indian and Alaska Native groups from Alaska, Arizona, Michigan, Minnesota, Washington and California announce their opposition to the nomination of Gale Norton as Secretary of Interior.
Bemidji, Minnesota – If confirmed, Norton will be the head administrator over the Bureau of Indian Affairs that affects the daily lives of millions of American Indians each day. The BIA is an agency within the Department of Interior responsible for administering the United State government’s relationship with Indian governments and for overseeing Congress’s trust responsibility for Indian lands.
“Norton and people she has worked with in the past have repeatedly attacked tribal sovereignty as well as their hunting and fishing rights,” said Keith Hunter, with the Hollow Bone Alliance, an Indian ecological group in Washington State.
Hunter found information that Norton used her position as Colorado Attorney General to attack Indian rights throughout the country. Taking a states’ rights activist role, she reached far beyond the bounds of her home state Colorado, filing at least eight briefs against tribes in Alaska, Washington, Idaho, Wyoming, California, Minnesota, North Dakota and Florida.
In all the cases she argued that states’ rights overrule tribes attempts to establish self-governance, including the right to tax, to permit casinos, to enforce tribal laws, to hunt and fish, and to control lands within the bounds of federally established Indian reservations.
She argued that states are immune to lawsuit by tribes, that states can tax and repossess land within Indian reservations, and that millions of acres of Indian land in Alaska should be transferred to the states.
Hunters group is opposed to Norton’s nomination.
Norton’s affiliate group, the Mountain States Legal Foundation, attacked Indian religious and cultural practices by suing the National Park Service for not issuing rock climbing permits during Indian ceremonial activities on Devil’s Tower.
The foundation also submitted briefs in cases challenging the right of the Jicarilla Apache Tribe of New Mexico to tax oil and gas extraction on their reservation.
After stepping down as Attorney General within the Interior Department under the Reagan administration, Norton went back to work for the Mountain States Foundation in a sweeping case attacking the Department of Interior, Alaskan Natives, and protection of streams and rivers. She was paid at least $60,000 by the Alaska State Legislature to aid the Legal Foundation in preparation of briefs arguing that the Department of Interior can not step in to protect Indian subsistence fish rights after the state government failed to do so.
“We’re concerned about Gale Norton’s track record with Indian tribes. Despite what she said in Senate confirmation hearings where she stated she recognized the historic relationship between the federal government and tribal governments, I feel she has been more devoted to abolishing Indian treaties and tribal rights,” said Chris Peters, director of the Seventh Generation Fund, an Indian grassroots advocate organization in Arcata California.
“Anyone in the position as chief of the Interior Department must be someone that would defend all federal protections for Indian sacred lands and culturally and historically significant areas. She has a long history of not doing this,” Peters said.
“We’re especially concerned about Norton’s song and dance routine when she is asked about protecting the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge from oil development,” said, Tom Goldtooth, of the Indigenous Environmental Network.
At the Senate confirmation hearings held last week, Norton made clear the possibility that oil development in Alaska’s pristine Arctic National Wildlife Refuge could occur without significant damage to the environment. President George W. Bush had indicated throughout his election his strong support for the exploration for oil in this protected refuge, despite opposition by the Gwich’in Athabascan tribal nation that reside in the region of the refuge.
Norton had made numerous comments of her support for Bush’s plans to expand domestic oil drilling, including the refuge area.
“We are opposed to this woman being our next Secretary of Interior. Efforts by the Bush administration to open up the refuge to oil drilling is an act of discrimination. It is an issue of human rights versus oil,” said Sarah James, an affiliate of the Alaska Council of Indigenous Environmental Network and member of the Gwich’in nation.
For more information, contact:
Tom Goldtooth, Indigenous Environmental Network (218) 751-4967
Chris Peters, Seventh Generation Fund (707) 825-7640
Guy Lopez, Indigenous Peoples Endangered Species Program, Center for Biological Diversity 520-623-5252 x301
Keith Hunter, Hollow Bone Alliance, (360) 645-3161
Sarah James, Alaska (907) 587-5315
For a summary of these cases: www.biologicaldiversity.org/swcbd/stop-norton/legalantics.html
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