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Monday, August 16, 2010

Indians, Lobbyists and Arizona Politics...OH MY!


The scene is the Foxwoods Resort Casino in Connecticut . The year 2000.
The congressman has $100 chips stacked high, having a grand time at the crap table.
He likes to gamble and isn't afraid to show some temper when he loses.
Along for the ride are his campaign manager and one of the two biggest lobbyists handing out campaign money from various Indian tribes who was also a 20 year friend of the legislator.

By now we've all heard about the money J.D. Hayworth received from an Indian tribe by way of disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff, who was one of the two big boys in Indian tribe money lobbying.

Pot, meet Kettle....

However, it was not J.D. Hayworth, nor Jack Abramoff at the crap table.
It was Senator John McCain, campaign manager and Indian lobbyist in his own right, Rick Davis, along with Scott Reed, now the one remaining big time lobbyist handling the tribes and their money.

National Review wrote:

“That would be this New York Times story, describing McCain playing the craps table with Rick Davis and Scott Reed. Davis is a longtime McCain friend and associate, currently his campaign manager, who runs a lobbying firm that represented Indian tribes with casino interests. Reed also worked as a lobbyist for Indian tribes, but he was also Bob Dole's campaign manager in 1996, where McCain is a top surrogate”
Another article further describes the scene.
McCain was betting at a casino he oversaw as a member of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, and he was doing so with the lobbyist who represents that casino.
The visit had been arranged by the lobbyist, Scott Reed, who works for the Mashantucket Pequots, a tribe that has contributed heavily to McCain's campaigns and built Foxwoods into the world's second-largest casino. Joining them was Rick Davis, McCain's campaign manager. Their night of good fortune epitomized not just McCain's affection for gambling, but also the close relationship he has built with the gambling industry and its lobbyists during his 25-year career in Congress.
As a two-time chairman of the Indian Affairs Committee, McCain has done more than any other member of Congress to shape the laws governing America's casinos, helping to transform the once-sleepy Indian gambling business into a $26-billion-a-year behemoth with 423 casinos across the country.
As factions of the ferociously competitive gambling industry have vied for an edge, they have found it advantageous to cultivate a relationship with McCain or hire someone who has one, according to an examination based on more than 70 interviews and thousands of pages of documents.
McCain portrays himself as a Washington maverick unswayed by special interests, referring recently to lobbyists as "birds of prey." Yet in his current campaign, more than 40 fund-raisers and top advisers have lobbied or worked for an array of gambling interests - including tribal and Las Vegas casinos, lottery companies, and online poker purveyors.
When rules being considered by Congress threatened a California tribe's planned casino in 2005, McCain helped spare the tribe. Its lobbyist, who had no prior experience in the gambling industry, had a nearly 20-year friendship with McCain.

ayworth's explanation of the Abramoff contribution is spelled out by him here.
Hayworth got direct contributions of $2,250 from Abramoff, which was donated to charity, Hurricane Katrina relief. The Indian tribe in question insisted the money they gave by way of Abramoff be kept by Hayworth.

Hayworth's exoneration of any criminal charges, by the US Dept. of Justice is in a letter from them here.

The McCain campaign is trying to use this non issue to destroy Hayworth, while indulging in bigger tribe money and underhanded backroom deals far surpassing anything Jack Abramoff pulled.

McCain has been chair of the Indian affairs committee since 2005, having served on it for many years prior. He used this position to bring down Abramoff, who was second only to handing out tribe dollars to McCain's man Scott Reed. Some have speculated the move was not so much to rid politics of the likes of Abramoff, but to gain a monopoly on tribe campaign dollars. There's even a book, 'The Perfect Villain: John McCain and the Demonization of Jack Abramoff' speculating McCain's motives.

In one such article, Chuck Muth writes:
When stories of Jack Abramoff taking various Indian tribes to the cleaners first hit the press, McCain - Chairman of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee and author of the un-American, anti-free speech McCain-Feingold campaign censorship law - decided this would be an excellent opportunity to settle some old scores, help out some old pals, and do what Sen. McCain does best...get media attention for Sen. McCain.
As the Washington insider newspaper The Hill reported in March 2004, McCain wrote at least one letter on Senate letterhead praising Reed to one of Abramoff’s clients, the Saginaw Chippewa. Five days later, Abramoff was fired and the Saginaw Chippewa tribe retained Reed. In addition, columnist Bob Novak reported last December that on the eve of the investigation’s hearings, Reed handed some $200,000 in bundled contributions to McCain. Does this smell, or what?
The thing is, this McCain “investigation” looks like a real scandal in and of itself. If there are/were actual crimes involved, that’s what the Justice Department is for, not the Senate Indian Affairs Committee. Instead, McCain appears to be using his committee and his position to (a) grandstand for his 2008 presidential campaign, (b) pay back conservatives who opposed him in 2000, and (c) scratch the back of a well-heeled lobbyist who is scratching right back.

McCain/Feingold/Campaign Finance 'reform' , more than meets the eye.

In 2006, Amanda Carpenter of Human Events relays this story.

McCain’s Law Preserved Loophole for Tribal Contributions
Sen. John McCain (R.-Ariz.), chairman of the Indian Affairs Committee, says the campaign finance reform law he sponsored in 2002 intentionally left open a loophole that allows Indian tribes to make campaign contributions to an unlimited number of candidates for federal office.
Before McCain’s law passed, most Americans were allowed to give an aggregate of only $25,000 to party committees and candidates for federal office in any two-year election cycle. Indian tribes were not subject to that cap. McCain’s law lifted the aggregate-contribution cap to $95,000 for ordinary American contributors, but declined to impose any cap at all on Indian tribes.
When I asked McCain last week why this was the case, he said, “Because tribes are ‘sovereign entities.’ They are treated on a government-to-government relationship, and we’re looking at that whole issue.”
I asked, “But it was an intentional thing?” McCain replied, “Oh yeah. … Because they are ‘sovereign nations’ unquote. We sign treaties with them.”
When I pointed out that the U.S. does not allow contributions from foreign governments, McCain said, “No, we don’t. But they’re American citizens. So, it’s a unique kind of a status.”
Evidently, Mr. McCain also believes he deserves 'a unique kind of status'. And why not be the 'anti-earmark' champion when there is a ready source of campaign income flowing from lobbyists controlling Indian money?

How very 'Maverick' of you, Senator McCain.

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