Saturday, April 21, 2007

D.C. Watchdog Group calls for Rep. Lewis (R-CA) to follow lead and step down from Appropriations Committee


04.21.07 @ 08:12 eastern

Rep. Lewis Should Step Down From Appropriations Committee

This week, it was reported that the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) raided both Rep. John Doolittle's (R-CA) home and Rep. Rick Renzi's (R-AZ) family business. Although these members were under federal investigation, they did not step down from their respective committee assignments until these raids occurred this week.

Their resignations leave open the question as to why congressional leaders have allowed Rep. Jerry Lewis (R-CA), who is currently under FBI investigation, to maintain his plum assignment as the ranking member on the House Appropriations Committee.

Melanie Sloan, Executive Director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, said today, "Raids of a member's home or business cannot be the new standard for what compels a member to step down from a committee post. Rep. Lewis, as the top Republican appropriator, is responsible for funding all federal agencies, including the Justice Department, which is conducting a probe into his potentially criminal activities. It is well past time for Rep. Lewis relinquish his seat on the Appropriations Committee pending the outcome of the ongoing investigation."

Reps. Doolittle, Renzi and Lewis were all named in Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington's 2006 Most Corrupt report, Beyond DeLay. More details can be found at http://www.beyonddelay.org.

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) is a non-profit legal watchdog group dedicated to holding public officials accountable for their actions.


note: In 2006, CREW named Doolittle, Renzi and Lewis on their list of the 20 Most Corrupt Members of Congress. Several others including Richard Pombo, Rick Santorum and J.D. Hayworth were not re-elected to their Congressional seats in November 2006.

© 2006 Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington

Friday, April 20, 2007

Second time in as many days a GOP Congressman steps aside

WASHINGTON, April 20, 2007



Rep. Rick Renzi, R-Ariz., speaks during a press conference at the heavily fortified Green Zone in Baghdad, Sunday, April 1, 2007.
Rep. Rick Renzi, R-Ariz., speaks during a news conference at the heavily fortified Green Zone in Baghdad on April 1, 2007. Renzi is the subject of a federal probe into a questionable land swap and has stepped down from the House Intelligence Committee while the FBI investigates. (AP)


Quote

"I view these actions as the first step in bringing out the truth. Until this matter is resolved, I will take a leave of absence from the House Intelligence Committee. I intend to fully cooperate with this investigation."


Rep Rick Renzi, R-Ariz.


(CBS/AP) For the second time in as many days, a Republican member of Congress is stepping down from a sensitive committee because he's being investigated by the FBI, CBS News correspondent Bob Fuss reports.

Rep. Rick Renzi, R-Ariz., is the subject of a probe into a questionable land swap. He denies any wrongdoing but is temporarily leaving his position on the House Intelligence Committee.

On Thursday, California Republican John Doolittle temporarily gave up his seat on the House Appropriations Committee after the FBI searched his house in connection with his ties to convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff — who did business with Doolittle's wife.

In a statement issued Thursday from Washington, Renzi said, "The FBI came to my family's business to obtain documents related to their investigation.

"I view these actions as the first step in bringing out the truth. Until this matter is resolved, I will take a leave of absence from the House Intelligence Committee. I intend to fully cooperate with this investigation."

Renzi, elected to his third term last November, did not elaborate on the federal probe.

The Arizona Republic reported that FBI agents raided an insurance agency owned by Renzi's wife in Sonoita, a town near Sierra Vista.

Renzi referred all questions to his Washington-based attorney, Laura Miller, who did not immediately return calls Thursday night.

WCBS-TV Video News: Raid on Indian Reservation

this video news clip was posted on 04.19.07 at wcbstv.com


click snapshot to go to video


Police Bust Drug Ring In Shinnecock Indian Nation
April 19, 2007-04-26
Investigators on Long Island say they have dismantled a major drug distribution network on the East end. CBS 2’s Jennifer McLogan reports.

A second GOP Congressman's home raided this past week by FBI; he steps down from House Intelligence Committee

04.20.07 @ 4:20 PM PDT


Renzi takes leave from House committee amid federal investigation


By JENNIFER TALHELM, AP

WASHINGTON (Map, News) - Arizona Republican Rep. Rick Renzi, whose wife's business was searched by the FBI on Thursday, says he will temporarily step down from the House Intelligence Committee.

Law enforcement officials confirmed in October that they were scrutinizing a land deal that would benefit a Renzi friend and business associate who was also a campaign donor.

House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, said Friday that Renzi told him of the search and volunteered to step down from the committee, which has some oversight authority over the FBI, "to avoid any unnecessary distractions on the panel and its critical work."

Spokesmen for the FBI and the U.S. attorney's office in Arizona declined to comment. A lawyer for Renzi did not return repeated calls for comment.

Renzi has denied any wrongdoing. In a statement issued late Thursday, he acknowledged that the FBI had taken documents from the family business.

"I view these actions as the first step in bringing out the truth," Renzi said. "Until this matter is resolved, I will take a leave of absence from the House Intelligence Committee. I intend to fully cooperate with this investigation."

Personal financial disclosure forms filed with the House last May show Renzi's wife, Roberta, owned the Patriot Insurance Agency Inc. It was valued at between $1 million and $5 million.

The agency is located in a sprawling ranch-style home in Sonoita, Ariz., which is not in Renzi's congressional district.

A reporter who knocked on the door Friday was directed to Tucson, Ariz., lawyer Mick Rusing, who was not immediately available for comment. A white vehicle in the garage displayed a decorative license plate that said, "Rick Renzi for Congress."

The raid on Renzi's business happened the same day that Rep. John Doolittle, R-Calif., temporarily stepped down from the House Appropriations Committee.

Renzi disclosed the raid and stepped down immediately. Doolittle disclosed that agents had raided his Virginia home only after it became public several days later.

It also comes a day after Senate Judiciary Committee members grilled Attorney General Alberto Gonzales about the firing of eight U.S. attorneys last year, including Arizona's Paul Charlton.

Democrats have demanded to know whether the firings were related to political corruption investigations by the prosecutors. Charlton's office opened its investigation into Renzi sometime before the 2006 election. Charlton was fired Dec. 7.

The land deal involved an October 2005 land sale, which Renzi helped promote. The sale netted a former business partner, James Sandlin, $4.5 million.

Sandlin owns properties in Arizona and Texas. He had been a business partner with Renzi in a real estate investment company. He also has contributed to Renzi's campaign.

The land that was sold was to be part of a swap in which the new owners could exchange it for land owned by the federal government. Renzi publicly talked about introducing legislation to complete the swap but never followed through.

Last October, a lawyer for Renzi said the congressman walked away from the deal after questions were raised about whether it was appropriate. The land is not in his district.

Such land swaps are common in the West, where the federal government owns large swaths of property. In this case, the Renzi had said he wanted to exchange the land to help protect the nearby Fort Huachuca Army Post from encroaching development.

Renzi, a three-term congressman, represents a rural district that sprawls across much of northern and eastern Arizona.


Doolittle Holds Press Conference - Sac Bee provides audio & transcripts

posted by the Sacramento Bee's CapitolAlert:



BREAKING NEWS


Doolittle transcript
Last Updated 1:34 pm PDT Friday, April 20, 2007
By Shane Goldmacher -- Capitol Alert



This is a transcript of a press conference Rep. John Doolittle held via conference call today [Friday, 04.20.07] from Washington....(more)


Click here to listen to audio of the press conference.

Defiant Doolittle draws similarities to Duke Lacrosse case

04.20.07 @ 01:02:32 PM PDT


Rep. Doolittle defiant in face of DOJ scrutiny


By ERICA WERNER
Associated Press Writer


WASHINGTON- A day after stepping down from a key House committee because his home was searched by the FBI, Rep. John Doolittle on Friday proclaimed that he's innocent, will fight any charges and will stay in Congress and seek re-election.

The California Republican, a nine-term incumbent under scrutiny in the Jack Abramoff congressional corruption scandal, also said that he will seek permission from the House Ethics Committee to establish a legal fund to raise money for his defense. After discussions with GOP House leadership, Doolittle on Thursday agreed to temporarily resign his coveted spot on the House Appropriations Committee.

"I have no intention of resigning from Congress and I have every intention of running for re-election again," Doolittle told reporters during a conference call from his Northern California district.

"If there is anything that we should have learned from the Duke Lacrosse case, it is that the destruction of the reputations of innocent people can occur when the government, the press and the public jump to unfounded conclusions," he added, referring to discredited rape allegations against university athletes.

Doolittle said he did not believe the FBI raid on his Oakton, Va., house April 13 was necessary. Agents had a search warrant for materials related to a fundraising and event-planning business run from the home by his wife, Julie, called Sierra Dominion Financial Solutions Inc.

Sierra Dominion has done work for lobbyist Abramoff's former firm, Greenberg Traurig, for Doolittle's campaigns and for a nonprofit group called the Korea-U.S. Exchange Council started by a former aide to former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay. Doolittle's aides said there are other clients but declined to name them, citing the clients' privacy.

Doolittle said his wife was home alone at the time of the search and agents hauled off her three computers and two big filing cabinets full of files.

"So it's vitiated her ability to do any work," he said, adding that Julie Doolittle has cooperated with several requests for information from the government, including a subpoena in 2004.

"She's provided everything in a timely basis, anything they ever asked for, so out of the clear blue to have this happen was quite shocking," Doolittle said.

Justice Department spokesman Bryan Sierra declined comment.

"While I did not think that the search of our home was necessary, I do believe it will demonstrate that she has been completely forthcoming and has had real clients with real work," added Doolittle, who came close to losing his House seat last year in a campaign that focused on his ties to Abramoff and his wife's fundraising for his campaigns.

Doolittle said his legal bills have mounted past $100,000 while his wife, who has a separate lawyer, is facing rising legal costs as well. For that reason he plans to establish a legal defense fund which under House rules lets him accept donations of $5,000 per year from individuals rather than the $2,300-per-campaign limit that applies to congressional committees.

"Our consciences are clear here, and we're very comfortable that the truth will vindicate us, but we've got to wage a legal battle to have that happen and so we're going to be asking our supporters to help us do that," Doolittle said.

Doolittle has numerous ties to Abramoff, who is cooperating with the government after pleading guilty last year to conspiracy, mail fraud and other charges, admitting to bilking his Indian tribe clients out of tens of millions of dollars with promises to influence the decisions of Congress and the Interior Department.

Among other connections, Doolittle accepted at least $14,000 in campaign money from Abramoff and tens of thousands more from his tribal clients. On several occasions Doolittle signed letters to the Interior Department on behalf of Abramoff's tribal clients.

Drug raid is another in string of challenges facing tribe

04.20.07



A troubled nation's ongoing battles

BY BART JONES

They were among the first inhabitants of Long Island, going back 10,000 years.

But today, the Shinnecocks are a troubled nation, fighting for federal recognition as an Indian tribe, striving to reclaim some of their ancestral lands and floating the idea of opening a casino.

The latest development -- a police raid on their reservation to break up an alleged narcotics ring -- threatens to create more turbulence for the 1,300-member tribe.

Indian and legal experts say actions like Thursday's high-powered raid complete with helicopters are rare.

"The feds and the state prefer to avoid anything like this if it is at all possible," said John Strong, a retired Southampton College professor who is an expert on the Shinnecock. "It's quite unusual."

Still, federal law supersedes state and reservation law, giving the federal government the legal right to raid reservations in the event of criminal activity, Strong said.

The raid is the latest development in a history that has been turbulent.

The tribe had their run of the East End until 1640 when the first English settlers landed at Conscience Point in Southampton. Some 63 years later, the English made their first land deal with the tribe -- pressuring the Shinnecock to sell all their land in Southampton. They were leased back some 3,600 acres for 1,000 years.

By 1859 there was another deal -- this one cutting the tribe's holdings to 800 acres.

In the last decade the Shinnecocks have stepped up their efforts to fight back. They won a landmark court case in 2005 in which a federal judge recognized them as a bona fide Indian tribe.

That opened the door to their possible recognition as a tribe by the Department of the Interior's Bureau of Indian Affairs, which in turn would make available to them a multitude of benefits such as access to home mortgages and educational assistance.

Still, the bureau says it can't get to the Shinnecock's case until 2009 and that a decision would take five years after that.

The Shinnecocks lost a court case in November, in which they sought to regain some of their ancestral lands, including property that today is home to the Shinnecock Hills Golf Course, National Golf Links and Southampton College. The tribe is still fighting for the land, though, and has proposed building a casino.


http://www.newsday.com/news/local/longisland/ny-lishin0420,0,4270368.story?coll=ny-retirement-headlines

Gov. Schwarzenegger can't be pleased that Detroit Casino syndicators have joined with Labor to block his plans


Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger can’t be pleased that Detroit casino syndicators Barwest LLC -- and their tribal partners the Big Lagoon Rancheria and Los Coyotes Band of Cahuilla and Cupeno Indians – have aligned themselves with (& committed resources to) Labor and other special interests working aggressively to block ratification of expanded gaming compacts the Governor re-negotiated last summer with five of California’s most successful gaming tribes.

The State Senate approved the expanded gaming agreements this week despite the tremendous effort waged by Labor, Barwest and others. Now the matter goes to the Assembly where Labor, along with Barwest and other special interests have vowed to commit whatever resources are needed in a final showdown, a last stand against the established tribes.

While the Governor and Indian leaders got off to a rocky start following his election in 2003; last year the parties made attempts to bridge that gap. After meetings with tribal leaders to identify common ground throughout his first term, and with California facing serious state budget shortfalls; Governor Schwarzenegger re-negotiated agreements for expanded gaming with five of California’s more established gaming tribes last summer. Collectively those agreements are expected to yield $500 million annually in new revenues for the state.

Since last summer, Barwest spokespersons and lobbyists have bragged that they helped block ratification of the re-negotiated agreements for expanded gaming last August. They indicate it was their way of getting back at the established gaming tribes and establishing "parity" (creating leverage) with those tribes.

Certainly the Governor, if it had been important to him, had the ability to create "parity" or leverage with the established tribes last summer by insisting those tribes back off their opposition to (or even announce support for) the Barwest agreements (compacts with Big Lagoon/Los Coyotes), but he didn’t. Apparently that was never part of discussions between the established tribes and the Governor.

Unable to win ratification of their gaming agreements in 2005/06, Barwest and company failed the Governor; and now the parties behind Barwest have aligned themselves with the Governator's #1 adversary, Organized Labor, to block one of the Schwarzenegger's top policy priorities this session.

Could it be as TheVerifiableTruth.com has suggested before that Barwest mislead the Governor's team in their original compact negotiations; and subsequently the Governor realized that? Or is this just a case of trade-odds, requiring the Governor to choose among priorities?

Labor's Gribbon vows to make a stand against gaming compacts approved by Schwarzenegger & Senate

04.20.07


Senate OKs more slots for tribes

By AARON C. DAVIS
The Associated Press


SACRAMENTO - The California Senate on Thursday approved the largest expansion of Indian gambling in the state since tribes were given the authority to operate casinos.

Before they begin installing 22,500 new slot machines, however, the tribes must persuade reluctant members of the Assembly, which is controlled by Democrats with deep ties to labor unions that oppose the deals.

The clash of California's political titans - labor vs. gambling tribes - will be compounded by pressure from Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. He negotiated the agreements last year and has bet on the Legislature approving the compacts to balance his spending plan for the budget year beginning in July.

Schwarzenegger is counting on the tribes to be able to install thousands of slot machines by July to begin bringing in the $500-million annual share of casino winnings to the state provided for under the deals. The revenue is increasingly crucial for the governor this year to deliver on his promise of eliminating the state's chronic budget deficit given that state tax revenue is lagging $1.3 billion below forecasts.

"There's a lot of marbles on the table now," said Jack Gribbon, California political director for Unite Here, the casino and hotel workers union that has promised to pour its resources into defeating the compacts.

"We're talking about an extraordinarily wealthy industry that's been very willing to throw its weight around ... If we do not oppose this now, I don't know why we would exist. At stake are the rights of 50,000 workers to address living wages, health care and job security for the next 23 years."

The compacts approved Thursday allow five wealthy Southern California tribes that already operate 10,000 slot machines to install as many as 22,500 more, as well as card tables and other casino games.

The Senate also approved 99 slot machines for a tribe in far Northern California that has tried for years to get authorization for a gambling.

YouTube: Tribal chairman testifies before Senate committee in favor of amended gaming agreements

Excerpts from April 9th testimony before the CA Senate Governmental Organization Committee by Morongo Band of Mission Indians tribal chairman Robert Martin. He testified in favor of legislative ratification of amended tribal gaming agreements negotiated by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Ratification of the five amended gaming compacts would mean $500 million new each year for California's budget.

Schwarzenegger says California will be facing a $1.5 billion annual shortfall as it is now.

Gaming Compact Previously Voted Down in Assembly Remains 'Stymied' in Senate Rules Committee

from a Eureka Times-Standard story 04.20.07, "State Senate approves Yurok gaming compact" by writer Jessie Faulkner:


...Meanwhile, Big Lagoon Rancheria's gaming compact -- signed in September 2005 -- isn't making much progress with its second attempt at legislative ratification. [Senator Patricia] Wiggins introduced SB 157 to ratify the nearly two-year-old compact, but the legislation remains stymied in the rules committee as of Thursday, according to Susan Boyd of Wiggins' office.

The compact would allow Big Lagoon Rancheria to open a casino in Barstow.

During the 2005-06 legislative session, the legislation was voted down by the Assembly Governmental Organization Committee, but the door was left open for a second vote. That never happened.

Big Lagoon Rancheria Chairperson Virgil Moorehead has said the Rancheria plans to return to its original plans of building a casino on the shores of the lagoon if the current gaming compact is not ratified.

A Long Island Tribal Leader’s Son Is Arrested, Suspected of Drug Sales in Reservation Store

The New York Times

April 20, 2007


A Long Island Tribal Leader’s Son Is Arrested, Suspected of Drug Sales in Reservation Store

SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y., April 19 — For years, the Shinnecock Indian Outpost has been the face of the Shinnecock reservation, and its owner, Lance Gumbs, a familiar sight. Mr. Gumbs, a tribal leader, could often be seen in the store conducting tribal business by cellphone, while his son Awan, 26, ran the counter, selling tax-free cigarettes and American Indian gifts.
But according to the authorities, the son was also selling large quantities of cocaine, heroin and marijuana out of his father’s store to smaller dealers. Until his arrest on Thursday, he was one of the largest suppliers in a thriving Hamptons drug trade, said Thomas Spota, the Suffolk County district attorney.
“He was quite confident that on the reservation, selling drugs, he would not be detected,” Mr. Spota said.
Awan Gumbs was arrested in an early morning raid along with a dozen other people whom the authorities called associates in the ring. The charges included conspiracy, marijuana possession and weapons possession. Most of the people arrested, Mr. Spota said, were residents of the reservation on 800 acres west of the village of Southampton.
The authorities said that several other people arrested were members of the Bess family, also tribal leaders.
Mr. Spota said the investigation began in September after the tribe’s trustees contacted his office asking him to investigate heavy drug activity on the reservation. Mr. Spota and Maj. Walter Heesch, commander of Troop L of the state police, both said they did not know if the senior Mr. Gumbs, a tribal trustee and until earlier this month the board chairman, knew of his son’s involvement.
Approached on Thursday afternoon while in his store, Lance Gumbs said he could not comment “until I talk to the tribal trustees.”
The trustees released a statement saying that the board had requested the investigation. The statement added that the raid “touches every household and causes pain to us all.”
“Today, our people walk with tears in their eyes knowing that some members of our family will suffer, but hopeful that the scourge we have been living with is about to come to an end and our community restored to its natural beauty and balance,” the statement said.
Awan Gumbs lived at various places on the reservation, including his father’s home, but he had recently moved to nearby Hampton Bays, the authorities said.
Besides the district attorney’s office, the raid was conducted by the state police, the Suffolk Police and Sheriff’s Departments, the federal Drug Enforcement Administration and the Secret Service. Officials said they had recovered bags of drugs, a small arsenal of weapons — including a loaded AK-47 — large stashes of cash and three luxury S.U.V.’s.
The guns, money and drugs were displayed on a table at a news conference Thursday afternoon at the state police barracks in Riverhead. The weapons included a shotgun decorated with leather fringe.
Mr. Spota said that the investigation relied heavily on phone taps and that it was one of the most extensive phone-tapping operations his office had ever conducted. Investigators listened in on one deal in which a member of the Bloods gang tried to buy a handgun, Mr. Spota said.
The ring sold roughly 12 kilograms of cocaine every two weeks, the authorities said.
Mr. Spota said that among those arrested was a law enforcement officer. Another officer was being questioned Thursday, he said. He refused to identify the arrested officer or provide any more details, aside from saying the arrest involved “drug activity.”
The arrest comes at a delicate time for the Shinnecocks. Tribal leaders have begun legal proceedings to try to open a casino in Hampton Bays, despite opposition from town and state officials. Their longstanding practice of selling tax-free cigarettes — the economic engine for the reservation — has also come under fire by some state officials.

Spokesman for casino syndicators in denial; Barstow gaming compacts have been on life support for the last year

from a San Bernardino Sun story 04.20.07, "Senate approves gambling compacts" written by reporter Joe Nelson:


...For representatives of tribes pushing to build casinos in Barstow, Thursday's news made them optimistic that the state Senate Organizational Committee would schedule informational hearings for them.

Schwarzenegger approved gaming compacts for the Big Lagoon Rancheria and Los Coyotes Band of Cahuilla and Cupeno Indians in September 2005, but the compacts must be ratified in order for them to proceed with building the casinos, estimated to bring 3,700 new jobs to Barstow and generate $6million a year in city revenue.

"We think the actions today to move on reservation compacts over to the Assembly is a good sign,' said Tom Shields, spokesman for Los Coyotes. "We look forward to the opportunity for an information hearing in the Senate with a vote to send us over to the Assembly as well."

Tom Shields wouldn't know a "good sign" if he saw one! He's been saying this since the Los Coyotes original proposal was rejected outright by Governor Schwarzenegger in March 2004.

These Barwest tribes have already been down this same route before, almost one year ago. The Senate GO Committee held a hearing on the Compacts in March 2006 but refused to take up any action on that bill. An aide to committee Chairman Dean Florez told the SB Sun at that time that the bills were as good as dead. (SB Sun, "Gaming bill pulled from State Senate.")

The author of last year's failed legislation, former Senator Wes Chesbro, was forced to make use of some administrative loophole that pulled the agreements out of one bill and slipped them into another in order to make it into the Assembly at the 11th hour. When the Assembly GO Committee held a hearing, members voted solidly to reject these exact same agreements; and there has been little progress by Barwest since. (SB Sun, "Tribal Compacts Tossed")

While CA Tribes move forward; Congressman steps aside

From the 04.19.07 PM Recap of The Sacramento Bee's CapitolAlert:

"...In the Early Edition of the Bee: David Whitney reports that Rep. John Doolittle resigned his post from the powerful House Appropriations Committee on Thursday, the day after news reports said the FBI raided his Virginia home."


In wake of raid, Doolittle gives up key committee post
Last Updated 4:14 pm PDT Thursday, April 19, 2007By David Whitney -- Capitol AlertWASHINGTON - Rep. John Doolittle, facing escalating legal uncertainties because of his connection to disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff, announced Thursday that he is stepping down from his position on the powerful House Appropriations Committee....(more)

AND

"The state Senate approved six Indian gambling compacts, which authorize 22,500 new slot machines in Indian casinos. The compacts now move to the Assembly, reports Judy Lin..."


Senate approves tribal compacts
Published 11:44 am PDT Thursday, April 19, 2007
By Judy Lin -- Capitol AlertOver the objection of labor unions and horseracing interests, the state Senate on Thursday approved what is being called the biggest gambling expansion plan in U.S. history....(
more)

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Senate approved Schwarzenegger negotiated compacts for expanded gaming by So Cal Tribes; headed for battle in the Assembly



04.19.07, 4:18 PM ET

Calif. Senate OKs Gambling Expansion

By AARON C. DAVIS
Associated Press

The California Senate on Thursday approved the largest-ever expansion of Indian gambling in the state.

If passed by the Assembly, the agreements would allow tribes to operate an additional 22,500 slot machines, the equivalent of more than 10 Las Vegas-sized casinos. It would represent a 50 percent increase in the number of slots operating in the state's Indian casinos.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who negotiated the agreements with the tribes last year, is counting on the Legislature to approve the pacts by mid-May to help balance his spending plan for the budget year that begins in July.

He is relying on tribes installing thousands of the slot machines within months and beginning to pay the state $500 million annually in casino winnings to close the state's chronic budget deficit. The state's nonpartisan budget analyst has said such expectations are unrealistic and projects less than half that amount coming to the state during the first few years.

The compacts approved Thursday are for five Southern California tribes that already have casinos and one tribe in far Northern California that has tried for years to get state authorization for a gambling hall.

The deals allow the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians to more than double - from 2,000 to 5,000 - the total number of slot machines and other games it operates at its two casinos in Palm (nasdaq: PALM - news - people ) Springs and Rancho Mirage.

The Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation in San Diego also would be allowed to increase the number of machines it operates from 2,000 to 5,000. The Morongo Band of Mission Indians northwest of Palm Springs, the Pechanga Band of Luiseno Indians in Temecula and the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians in San Bernardino would be allowed to more than triple - to 7,500 - the number of slot machines they operate.

In exchange, the state expects to collect billions of dollars over the compacts' 30-year span.

The Senate also approved a much smaller gambling agreement with the Yurok Indians, a 5,000-member tribe that is the state's largest but also among its poorest. The Yuroks will be allowed to install up to 99 slot machines at their reservation near Klamath in Del Norte County, most of which lacks electricity.

Compacts similar to those approved Thursday never made it out of the Legislature last year, in large part because of objections from labor groups.

In asking her colleagues to support the casino expansions, Sen. Denise Ducheny, D-San Diego, stressed that the agreements contained the same labor protections included in the original compacts negotiated by former Gov. Gray Davis.

They also require tribes to work more closely with local governments to offset the effects of increased traffic and other problems caused by casino expansions, said Ducheny, who carried the Morongo and Sycuan bills.

Her comments were a nod to unions, which have opposed the agreements. They say the deals roll back important advances for labor that Schwarzenegger included when he signed other agreements with tribes in 2004. Unions say those provisions made it easier for casino workers to organize.

Sen. Sheila Kuehl, D-Santa Monica, cited the labor issues and gambling's larger toll on society in urging lawmakers to vote against the bills. She said Indian gambling in the state had grown beyond what voters intended.

"Gambling is never a good thing for a state or a nation. It eats away; it's an addiction," Kuehl said. "But we compromised and said this was going to help these poor tribes get on their feet. Well, they're so on their feet now they're getting billions of dollars a year. I say, 'good for them,' but I can't vote for an expansion of gambling."

Indian gambling has grown to a $7 billion-a-year industry in California and has allowed tribes to become one of the most influential forces in state politics. An Associated Press review last week found that tribes had donated $1.6 million to the Democratic lawmakers who carried this year's casino-expansion bills.

In a statement, Schwarzenegger praised the Senate for passing the agreements.

"I believe these compacts are good for the state, the tribes and the local communities," Schwarzenegger said, urging the Assembly to quickly adopt them.

"Every additional day of delay costs the state millions of dollars for critical services that Californians rely upon," he said.

Schwarzenegger has said he will not accept tribal money.

Robert Martin, chairman of the Morongo Indians, said the tribe would be able to quickly increase its gambling operation to about 5,000 of the 7,500 slot machines it would be entitled to under the compacts.

"I'm comfortable with our market and think we can do that right away," he said.

The fate of the compacts in the Assembly, however, is uncertain.

Last fall, the Agua Caliente expansion was the only one the Assembly's labor-friendly Democratic majority brought to a vote. The rest were never considered.

While some lawmakers have threatened to tie up the compacts in committee hearings, others have said recent federal court decisions regarding casino labor issues may give the Assembly cover to approve them.



In Damage Control Mode, Rep. John Doolittle Steps Down from House Appropriations Post


April 19, 2007

Rep. Doolittle resigns committee post after corruption probe search


Rep. John Doolittle, R-Ca. is seen during a campaign fundraiser in El Dorado Hills, Calif., in this Oct. 3, 2006, file photo.


WASHINGTON (AP) - Rep. John Doolittle, whose house was searched by the FBI in an influence-peddling investigation, said Thursday he will step down temporarily from the House Appropriations Committee.

The announcement by the nine-term California Republican came one day after the disclosure that agents had raided his home in Oakton, Va. In the search last Friday, the FBI had a warrant for information connected with a fundraising business run by Doolittle's wife, Julie, that had done work for convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

"I understand how the most recent circumstances may lead some to question my tenure on the Appropriations Committee," Doolittle wrote House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio.

"Therefore, I feel it may be in the best interest of the House that I take a temporary leave with seniority from this committee until this matter can be resolved."

Doolittle's ties to Abramoff have come under scrutiny in the corruption investigation that has sent one former Republican congressman, Bob Ney of Ohio, to prison on a guilty plea to charges of conspiracy and making false statements.

Congressional Republicans have worked to repair their party's image in the wake of November's election losses that followed Democratic criticism of a GOP "culture of corruption."

"John recognizes that if we are to succeed in restoring trust between the American people and their elected leaders, this action is necessary, and I commend him for having the courage to do the right thing," Boehner said in a statement.

Last week's search took place on the same day that Kevin Ring, a former Doolittle aide who went on to work for Abramoff, resigned from a law firm without explanation.

Doolittle, a conservative from Roseville in northern California, is an ally of former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay. Doolittle called Abramoff a friend and the two had numerous connections. Doolittle accepted tens of thousands of dollars in campaign cash from Abramoff and interceded on behalf of the lobbyist's American Indian clients.

Julie Doolittle's company, Sierra Dominion Financial Solutions Inc., was paid a near-monthly retainer by Abramoff's firm Greenberg Traurig from September 2002 to February 2004. She was hired to work on a March 2003 fundraiser at the Spy Museum in Washington, D.C., for an Abramoff outfit called the Capital Athletic Foundation; the event was canceled after the invasion of Iraq.

Abramoff is cooperating with the government after pleading guilty in January 2006 to conspiracy, mail fraud and other charges, admitting to bilking his Indian tribe clients out of tens of millions of dollars with promises to influence the decisions of Congress and the Interior Department.

Julie Doolittle also worked for her husband's campaigns, an arrangement that was criticized during his re-election last year. Doolittle came close to losing to a Democratic political neophyte even though his district is among the most heavily Republican in California.

The Appropriations Committee is among the most powerful in Congress because it determines spending on government programs. Doolittle had used his committee spot to steer valuable projects to his district.

Pre-dawn raid on Indian Reservation nets drugs and illegal weapons

April 19, 2007, 2:16 PM EDT

Authorities also made dozens of arrests as part of the operation.



BY JOHN VALENTI AND MITCHELL FREEDMAN
john.valenti@newsday.com
mitchell.freedman@newsday.com

A pre-dawn raid headed by the New York State Police on the Shinnecock Indian Reservation in Southampton Thursday led to what law enforce-ment officials called the "dismantling" of "a major narcotics distribution network" on the East End of Long Island.

Arrests included eight residents of the Shinnecock Nation, as well as the son of tribal trustee Lance A. Gumbs, state police said.

Seized in the raid, launched just after 5 a.m. and conducted in conjunction with the Suffolk County District Attorney's Office, Suffolk County Sheriff's Department, the Drug Enforcement Agency, U.S. Secret Service and the Suffolk County Probation Department, were four vehicles, eight handguns, eight rifles, eight shotguns, almost $2,000 in currency, as well as marijuana, heroin, crack and drug paraphernalia. Police also seized a computer and flat screen monitor.

The raid was the result of an investigation dating back to September -- an investigation police said was "a request from the Trustees of the Shinnecock Indian Reservation" made in a letter to Suffolk District Attorney Thomas Spota.

The raid involved the execution of nine search warrants -- five of them on the reservation and four of them at locations in eastern Brookhaven and the East End, law enforcement sources told Newsday.

Notable among those arrested was Awan Gumbs, 26, of 4 Midgie Lane, Hampton Bays. The son of a Shinnecock National Tribal Trustee, Gumbs, according to State Police Major Walter Heesch, conducted some of his alleged narcotics sales from his father's place of business -- the Shinnecock Smoke Shop on Montauk Highway in Southampton.

Police called the younger Gumbs "the primary supplier of cocaine" to the reservation and "surrounding areas."

Two of those arrested -- John A. Miles, 35, of 156 Hampton Ave., Mastic, and Terrill Latney, 27, of 2 Bogota Road, Mastic Beach -- were described by state police as "suppliers of large quantities of cocaine" sold by Gumbs.

Law enforcement officials would not confirm the total number of arrests made or the exact amounts of drugs seized in the operation.

A news conference by state police and Spota is scheduled for 3 p.m. Thursday.

A spokeswoman for the Shinnecock Indian Nation would only confirm the raid had occurred on the reservation Thursday but said the tribe would have no comment until it could prepare a statement. As of 2 p.m., no statement had been released.

Police did not detail the charges against Gumbs, Miles and Latney.

They did announce the charges against 10 others arrested in the raid, including the eight reservation residents: Joseph Johnson, 24, charged with second-degree criminal possession of marijuana and third-degree criminal possession of a weapon; Michael Morton, 33, third-degree criminal sale of a controlled substance, third-degree criminal posses-sion of a weapon and second-degree conspiracy; Damon Wade, 36, third-degree criminal sale of a controlled substance and second-degree conspiracy; Nakai Bess, 21, third-degree criminal sale of a controlled substance and second-degree conspiracy; William I. Bess, 23, third-degree criminal sale of a controlled substance and second-degree conspiracy; Linee Quinn, 31, second-degree conspiracy; Damon Moore, 38, third-degree criminal posses-sion of a weapon; and, Matthew Smith, third-degree criminal sale of a controlled substance.

Two other non-reservation residents arrested were identified by police as: Kristine Goree of 2 Midgie Lane, Hampton Bays, charged with second-degree conspiracy; and, Kyle Bartlett of 40 Constable Drive, Riverhead, charged with unlawful possession of marijuana.

One fifth-generation resident of the reservation, Doreen Pepe, said she was awakened around 5 a.m. by the sound of helicopters overhead.

"They were really close," Pepe said. "I got out to take a look. I saw them circle the circumference of the reservation. I had this feeling of dread. I went to the end of my road and saw the state police. Then I got a call [from a friend]. They said it was a drug raid. I actually was happy to see them [the police] doing something about the drug situation. It's just a couple of people here."

Pepe noted that the reservation is a "small community," adding "nothing doesn't go on here . . . that doesn't go on in any other place in the world."

Since the reservation is tribal land -- and self-governed -- state and local police do not patrol the Shinnecock Indian Nation and, in fact, often seek permission prior to conducting operations on the reservation. Whether police had sought that permission prior to conducting the raid was unclear early Thursday afternoon.

The Shinnecock Reservation does have its own tribal security. It also was unclear if tribal security had been informed prior to the raid. Law enforce-ment officials told Newsday they do not believe it was.

While Pepe said she was "elated" about the enforcement action Thursday, other tribal residents expressed anger that the raid had taken place.

Several store owners on the reservation informed members of the media seeking information about the raid that they were trespassing on private property and asked reporters and a camera crew to leave.

http://www.newsday.com/news/local/longisland/ny-liraid0420,0,2539026,print.story?coll=ny-top-headlines

Son of Tribal Leader Charged in Predawn Drug, Weapons Sweep

04.19.07
Tribal Leader's Son Charged in Drug Sweep

By FRANK ELTMAN
Associated Press Writer

GARDEN CITY, N.Y. -- Police acting on Shinnecock Indian Nation leaders' request for a probe into drug dealing arrested the son of a tribal trustee Thursday, and accused him of being the main source of cocaine on the reservation.

A dozen others were arrested on various drug, conspiracy and weapons charges, prosecutors and state police said.

Authorities said Awan Gumbs, 26, the son of Shinnecock Trustee Lance A. Gumbs, led the group, though two other men were accused of supplying him with large quantities of cocaine.

Police said some drug sales took place inside the elder Gumbs' business, the Shinnecock Smoke Shop in Southampton.

The investigation into narcotics sales on the reservation began in September after the Shinnecock trustees requested it, state police said in a news release.

Beverly Jensen, a spokeswoman for the Shinnecock Indian Nation, confirmed a police raid had occurred on the reservation but had no other immediate comment.

Police seized three luxury sport utility vehciles and an automobile, as well as handguns, a loaded AK-47 assault weapon, rifles and shotguns during pre-dawn raids on and off the eastern Long Island reservation.

The Shinnecocks' 800-acre reservation in Southampton is peppered with modest single-family homes - a stark contrast to the palatial Hamptons estates just up the road.

For several years, the Shinnecocks have been trying to open a 65,000-square-foot casino in nearby Hampton Bays, but opposition from town and state officials has stymied there efforts.

Police make surprise pre-dawn raid on Shinnecock Reservation; guns, drugs seized

04.19.07
Police raid Shinnecock Reservation, guns, drugs seized

SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. -- Authorities conducted a pre-dawn raid Thursday on the Shinnecock Indian Reservation and other locations on eastern Long Island that led to several arrests and the seizure of illegal guns and narcotics.

Robert Clifford, a spokesman for District Attorney Thomas Spota, confirmed state police and investigators from the DA's office had made arrests, but declined to elaborate, citing ongoing operations. "

A joint Suffolk district attorney's office and New York State Police narcotics and illegal weapons enforcement action is focused on the Shinnecock Indian Reservation," Clifford said.

The raid began shortly before 5 a.m.

A spokeswoman for the Shinnecock Indian Nation told Newsday a police raid had occurred on the reservation but said the tribe would have no comment until it could prepare a statement.

CA Senate takes up the Indian gambling compacts today.

posted this morning by The Sacramento Bee's CapitolAlert:

The AM Alert - Breaking News
Published 5:50 am PDT Thursday, April 19, 2007

[In Sacramento today,] The Senate takes up the Indian gambling compacts today.

Negotiated last year by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger at the close of the legislative session, the five compacts would allow for the expansion of 22,500 new slot machines in the state.

Over the next 25 years, California stands to receive $13.4 billion to $22.4 billion in casino revenue-sharing payments, if the compacts are approved.

Organized labor has been heavily lobbying to scuttle the compacts, though unions are expected to draw the line in the Assembly, not the Senate, where Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata supports the gambling deals.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Lawsuit backers invest in casinos

as recently re-posted on .com


June 16, 2005

BY KATIE THOMAS
Newsday
STAFF WRITER

Gateway Funding Associates, the company that is bankrolling the Shinnecock land-claim lawsuit filed Wednesday, is headed by two Detroit-area investors with a history in casino development.

Marian Ilitch, whose family owns the Detroit Tigers, the Detroit RedWings and the Little Caesar's Pizza franchise, owns the MotorCity Casino in Detroit, one of three non-tribal casinos in the city. According to press reports, she has also lobbied to legalize gambling in Hawaii.


The second investor, Michael Malik, is a Detroit real estate developer who had a stake in the MotorCity Casino until Ilitch bought out his share this April.

Ilitch and Malik created Gateway Funding Associates specifically to back the Shinnecocks, said their spokesman, Tom Shields, but the investors have worked together on other projects.

In the 1990s, both backed the Bay Mills Indian tribe in their ultimately failed bid to construct a casino in Port Huron, Mich. The two are now proposing a casino in Barstow, Calif. with the Los Coyotes Indians.

Related Documents

Read the Shinnecock complaint (Jun 15, 2005)

Photo Gallery

Photos: Shinnecocks at federal court

Special Section

Complete Coverage: Shinnecock Tribe

More Coverage

Lawsuit backers invest in casinos (Jun 16, 2005)

Photo

Shinnecocks file suit in Central Islip (Newsday Photo/Daniel Goodrich) (Jun 15, 2005)

Graphics

Shinnecock's claim (Newsday)


Capitol Alert - hear Rep. John Doolittle's meeting with the Sac Bee editorial board

posted this afternoon by Shane Goldmacher at The Sacramento Bee's CapitolAlert

Rep. John Doolittle at the Bee editorial board

By Shane Goldmacher
Published 2:42 pm PDT Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Rep. John Doolittle sat down with the Sacramento Bee editorial board on April 11, just two days before the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) raided his Virginia home, executing a search warrant for materials related to Julie Doolittle's company, Sierra Dominion Financial Services.

Hear the full interview with Doolittle, a Roseville, Calif., Republican, at Capitol Alert.

A video excerpt of the interview can be found here.

Tribes will fail to meet Schwarzenegger's deadlines

Two California tribes will fail to meet Governor Schwarzenegger’s May 31 deadline to complete a federal land transfer process needed to effect their off-reservation casino proposals; but according to a spokesman for Barwest, the developer and manager of proposed Big Lagoon and Los Coyotes Indian Casino Resorts planned in Barstow, the parties are counting on the Governor to amend their existing agreements.


The gaming compacts negotiated by Governor Schwarzenegger with the Big Lagoon Rancheria and Los Coyotes Band of Cahuilla and Cupeno Indians in 2005 include several critical deadlines.

Barwest Casinos EIS/EIR

COMPLETED DOCUMENTS:

  1. Notice of Intent

  2. Scoping Report

FUTURE DOCUMENTS:

  1. Draft EIS

  2. Final EIS

  3. Record of Decision



May 31, 2007 Deadline

Among them, by May 31, 2007 Barwest was to have conveyed roughly 48 acres of land in Barstow to the United States to be held in trust for the two tribes and the tribes were to have had other positive determinations made by the Secretary of the Interior.


However, Barwest, the tribes’ developer, and the private entity that owns the 48-acres, failed to execute activity needed to convey the property to the tribes via the trust process until 2006.


An Environmental Impact Statement and Tribal Environmental Impact Report (EIS/TEIR) for the project is being prepared by Analytical Environmental Services (AES) as a 3rd party contractor for the US Department of the Interior, Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA); but that process won’t be complete for months.



Public Environmental Review Not Complete

The EIS at absolute best case takes a minimum of 18 months. At this point, the parties are about one third of the way through the EIS process: A notice of intent was circulated last year, a scoping meeting was held in Barstow and the scoping report was issued in September 2006.


The Draft EIS must be circulated and available for 45-day public comment; a series of hearings must be held and then the final report must be authored and submitted. A Record of Decision (ROD) must then be made. Other administrative considerations are taken into account and must receive the green-light from the Secretary of Interior before a casino can be built.


Clearly Barwest and its tribal partners will fail to meet the May 31 deadlines set by the Governor.



Falling Short on Other Deadlines & Requirements

The 2005 compacts included a second deadline, August 31, 2007 by which the two tribes must have completed all other elements needed for the compacts to take effect or the agreements would be null and void.


Since the Governor signed the agreements in 2005, Barwest and its tribal partners have failed to win ratification of the agreements from the state Legislature; another element required before the casinos can be built. The legislature failed to act on the agreements in 2006 and the author of legislation to ratify the agreements this year, Senator Pat Wiggins (D-Eurkea), tells reporters the bill's prospects aren't looking very "rosey."



Barwest Hopes Schwarzenegger Will Amend Compacts & Legislature Will Agree

At a recent Barstow City Council meeting, Barwest’s spokesman Tom Shields indicated they were hopeful the Governor would renegotiate those elements of the Compacts with them.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Wisconsin tribes fighting over casino plans; highlight Mohegan Sun involvement

as posted at indianz.com
04.17.07

Wisconsin tribes fight over off-reservation casino

Two Wisconsin tribes continue to battle over plans for an off-reservation casino.

The Menominee Nation wants to open a casino in Kenosha, nearly 200
miles from the reservation. The Mohegan Tribe of Connecticut, the owner of one the largest casinos in the world, is financing the project.

The Forest County Potawatomi Tribe is running ads against the proposal, highlighting the Mohegan involvement. The tribe operates an off-reservation casino in downtown Milwaukee.

The casino is currently before the Bureau of Indian Affairs in Washington, D.C. If it gains approval there, the state governor has to concur with the decision.

Even if that happens, the Menominee Nation still needs to have the land placed in trust for the casino site. Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne has raised concerns about off-reservation gaming.

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Google News: Indian Gaming

NEWS: Bay Mills Indian Community & Casino Proposals

NEWS: Shinnecock Indian Nation (Gateway Casino Resorts) Casino Proposals

NY Times: Shinnecock Indian Nation

NEWS: Los Coyotes Indian Tribe

NEWS: Los Coyotes / Barwest Barstow Casino Proposals

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certainly must reads!

Ilitch has backed loosing sports teams and pizza, but casinos in Detroit? Forbes.com 10.09.06 ● Marian Ilitch #1 on "25 Most Powerful People" to Watch 2006” global gaming business o1.oo.o5 ● My Kingdom for a Casino Forbes 05.08.06 ● Big Lagoon’s casino dream awakens north coast journal 07.28.05 ● Shinnecocks launch legal claim to Hamptons land newsday.com 06.16.05 ● Ilitch Plans to Expand Casino Empire RGTonline.com 07.05.05 ● Ilitch outbids partners MichiganDaily.com 04.14.05 ● Ilitch enmeshed in NY casino dispute detnews.com 03.20.05 ● Marian Ilitch, high roller freep.com 03.20.05 ● MGM Mirage to Decide on Offer for Casino in Detroit rgtonline.com 04.16.05 ● Secret deal for MotorCity alleged freep.com 02.15.05 ● Los Coyotes get new developer desertdispatch.com 02.08.05 Detroit casino figure to finance Barstow project LasVegasSun.com 07.07.03 ● Indian Band trying to put casino in Barstow signonSanDiego.com 06.04.03 Pizza matriarch takes on casino roles detnews.com 10.23.02 ● Vanderbilt gets short straw in negotiations for a casino Lansing Journal 10.06.02 ● Indians aim to drive family from tribe in vicious dispute san diego union tribune 04.09.00 ●Malik owns 2000 Michigan Quarter Horse of the Year Michigan.gov 01.01.00 ● Detroit Team to run Michigan’s newest Indian casino detnews.com 05.23.99 Tiger ties tangle Marian Ilitch detnews.com 04.29.99 ● Three investors must sell their Detroit casino interests gamblingmagazine.com 04.25.99 ● Partners’ cash revived election; They say money was crucial to Prop-E detnews.com 04.25.99 Investors have troubled histories las vegas review journal 04.27.99 ● Investor served probation for domestic assault on 12 year old boy detnews.com 04.25.99 Can a pair win a jackpot?: local men hope to... crainsdetroit.com 03.17.97

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