First Draft of History

In 2008, Jack Abramoff blocked Basic Book’s publication of my book on the Abramoff investigation, which implicated attorneys, fundraisers, consultants, and legislators aligned with the Trumps, Clintons, and Sen. John McCain who had conspired to manufacture a scandal against him to deflect from their own (alleged) misconduct. He then tried to steal my intellectual property and use it as leverage to restore his position within the political establishment, setting in play a series of scandals that ultimately played out during the Trump Administration. The first book (Lynched!) was scheduled for release before the 2008 presidential election when McCain was the presumptive Republican  presidential candidate, with The Huffington Post  acquiring the exclusive to run my story.

After receiving my articles, The Huffington Post promptly dropped me and published my exclusive under the byline of Gary Chafetz, a reporter working for Harvard Prof. Alan Dershowitz who has represented Donald Trump and the pedophile, Jeffrey Epstein in associated legal matters; and who was a close friend of Alex Gibney, the film director who promoted a false narrative against Abramoff in Casino Jack. Chafetz’s work was promoted across platforms bankrolled by George Soros, with whom Abramoff has enjoyed a long-term professional relationship. After I uncovered the truth surrounding his prosecution, Abramoff and his rabbi demanded I give my materials to Chafetz so we could “come together” against McCain.   After Abramoff acquired copies of my book manuscript and articles and sabotaged my prospective publication with a major publication, Chafetz rushed out a self-published book, The Perfect Villain, incorporating some of my work, without evidence, according to Abramoff’s specifications — while apparently coordinating with Abramoff’s legal team, according to tribal sources, to peddle his false narrative during the superlobbyist’s sentencing hearing.  Chafetz expected to become very rich, they said — as he ran the pro-Abramoff narrative on behalf of the global elite and expected these powerful, well-heeled interests to promote him.

My research was also lifted and spun, without permission or  attribution, by  New York Times reporter Jo Becker, to whom Abramoff had referred me and who professed to doing her own work despite demanding I hand over all of my evidence to her for her private use; possessing prior knowledge of my work, and apparently using my work as a template for her own, with no new insights beyond adding a few quotes,  reaffirming my discoveries, and  making glaring, factual mistakes — and then spinning the story to Abramoff’s specifications. Both Chafetz and Becker and their respective publications appeared to have met the standard for copyright infringement based upon counsel’s review of the evidence, legal precedence, and copyright law.

Abramoff sought to protect powerful (alleged criminal) co-conspirators  while scapegoating Sen. John McCain  — as, without his cooperation, the criminals, and indeed, Abramoff, would have gotten away with their alleged crimes — and there would have been no federal investigation. Understanding the truth behind the Abramoff scandal — and others driven by and on behalf of these shadow interests — will unveil  the networks, strategies, and identities of what appears to be an (alleged) international crime syndicate that has subverted the United States and countries around the world; its power appears to concentrate around the City of  London and the Vatican and enjoys vast influence among the halls of power, including the European Union, Great Britain, Israel, Russia, China, and elsewhere while overlapping with oligarchs, human traffickers, money launderers, technocrats, and kleptocrats, and apparently implicating Microsoft.  It is  my contention that the truth, if understood and (legally) acted upon, will empower we the people to restore the constitutional Republic of the United States, as envisioned and  established by our Founders.

I have encouraged people to reject the divide-and-conquer rhetoric and endless misdirection, obfuscation, and deflections of the media and its talking heads so that they can clearly see, identify, and address the problems that confound this nation and take critical and practical steps to check abuses of power and rout out governemnt corruption. It is critical that legitimacy and integrity be restored to governments and institutions around the world and that the (alleged) criminal cancer be prosecuted and held accountable by uncompromised judges and federal agents.

The symbol of the Rothschilds is a bundle of arrows held within a clenched fist — to imply that alone, they can be broken, but as a group, they are unbreakable.  As the elites seek to divide us, we must remain strong, steadfast, and united as a people —  and question the motives of anyone who seeks otherwise.  United, as a people, we are unbreakable. Let us stand together in truth, compassion, and integrity and demand accountability from those who have betrayed the the public trust. America is not lost nor too far gone, contrary to what the elites would have us believe to our own peril.   Abramoff came to typify kleptocracy for the simple reason that he was one of their  most powerful agents and that many decision makers were blackmailed, compromised, or otherwise coerced or incentivized to go along, to cover up (alleged) crimes, look the other way, and partake in the spoils. By scape-goating him, they reinforced their illegitimate position and cloaked their secrets — secrets that if known and acted upon, will set us free.

This first  draft of history is just the beginning. There is more, much more….

Jo Becker’s article

Gary Chafetz’s article.

Mine is below.

While denying any role in the copyright infringement, Abramoff helpfully connected me to the attorney who threw the case by filing in the wrong court. At the same time, said attorney was part of a team of attorneys advising Congressman Tom DeLay, the superlobbyist’s chief legislative ally. On the other side,  at least in the case of the Huffington Post, the infringers were represented by the firm that provided counsel to  DeLay in his federal corruption matters, reflecting that Abramoff’s team controlled all sides of the litigation after Abramoff allegedly facilitated the infringement. The pattern was similarly replicated throughout federal prosecutions from the Clinton Administration onward — in which teams of attorneys managed all sides of prosecutions, seemingly to ensure a pre-determined outcome.

After receiving a copy of my Huffington Post submission, Abramoff’s wife sent me correspondence from Abramoff confirming his receipt of my materials. At the bottom of the email was this curious exchange between Abramoff and the FBI:



Sent: Sunday, June 29, 2008 4:09 PM

To: Pam Abramoff

Subject: FWD: van Horne



Sent: Sunday, June 29, 2008 4:09 PM

To: Pam Abramoff

Subject: FWD: van Horne

sweetie, can you please contact Van Horne and tell him that he MUST get in touch with her and get these materials asap? Thanks.

—– on 06/29/2008 02:03 PM wrote:

Jack- Do you have someone else you want me to give the materials to? Someone needs to sign for them and Mr. van Horne has not followed through. Otherwise, they just stay in my possession, which I suspect does you little good.

Let me know.

SA Leanna Saler


Abramoff had the FBI wrapped around his little finger, ensuring that the information (and exculpatory evidence) I had uncovered was spun and buried. The Department of Justice’s mishandling of the Abramoff investigation  was the beginning of the end of justice in the United States.

Tom Rodgers, who had worked with the FBI, Indian tribes, lobbyists, and Senate Indian Affairs Committee, to drive the prosecution against Abramoff, admitted to helping Becker with her entire article. He then incorporated a vanity quote from Becker on his website, dated September 28, 2008,  in which she emailed to him:  “I’ve just got down reading the final story and off the phone with my editors….Without you, none of this would have been possible…and I hope you know how deeply appreciative I am.”  (The article in question was published September 27, 2008.)

The  truth was blocked from coming forth — while interests aligned with Abramoff assaulted me — taking aim at my career, finances and sabotaging my publication and professional prospects. The attacks were unrelenting, spanning years, until I was completely devastated, reflecting a shocking level of criminality, psychopathy, and evil, the likes of which I had never before experienced. Abramoff was seen gleefully gloating- “I can’t believe you actually trusted me.”

Looking back, nor could I — though, upon meeting him, Abramoff couldn’t have been a more likeable or gracious man. Most who met him felt the same — he seemed so normal, just that he was a psychopath.

Around every dark cloud is a silver lining. Through the full and complete telling of his story, the truth surrounding the corruption of our federal government and loss of our country to a class of unprincipled, parasitic pirates becomes clear — who did it, how it was done, the strategies they employed, the (alleged) crimes they committed. There is a paper trail and ample evidence. The truth will set us free — and we, the people, will be vindicated. Once the cancer is routed out, the public will rejoice, and God’s kingdom on Earth will flourish again.

Presenting the first draft of history, as written in 2008:

McCain Manufactured the Abramoff Scandal for Political and Financial Gain

(Photo of McCain)

By Susan Bradford

Susan Bradford has written a forthcoming book about Senator John McCain

Americans believe that political representation is measured on a sliding scale. The more you give, the more effectively you can petition your government.”

–Sen. John McCain

  1. The McCain-Reed Connection

Lobbyist Scott Reed Implicated in McCain’s Investigation of Jack Abramoff

By Susan Bradford

Scott Reed, a Republican lobbyist with close ties to Senator John McCain’s office, worked behind the scenes to investigate uber lobbyist Jack Abramoff, before seizing his rival’s clients for himself and his business partners. In a letter dated March 4, 2004 to Chief Audrey Falcon of the Saginaw Chippewa tribe, a former client of Abramoff’s, which confirms Reed’s role, McCain wrote: “I appreciate your Tribe’s willingness to assist the Congress’ investigation into alleged misconduct associated with Indian lobbying activities. We have met with Scott Reed, who was helpful on this issue.”

(Link: McCain’s letter to Chief Falcon)

Given that Reed was close to his office, McCain should have immediately recused himself from the investigation to have avoided any perceived or real conflicts of interest. As the media has reported, one of Reed’s business partners, Roger Stone, who was also a competitor of Abramoff’s, has close ties and influence with McCain’s presidential campaign. Described in the media alternatively as an “unindicted Watergate co-conspirator” and “Nixon dirty trickster,” Stone formed a 527-organization with a crude acronym (Citizens United Not Timid) to “educate” the American public about Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY), who arguably was McCain’s most competitive Democratic rival for the presidency. While dozens of lobbyists populate McCain’s presidential campaign, at least two of the Senator’s senior presidential campaign workers are Stone’s business associates — including Paul Manafort, a campaign advisor; and Rick Davis, the campaign manager.

Did political or financial interests ultimately influence McCain’s decision to investigate Abramoff, the lobbyist who played a pivotal roll in scuttling the Senator’s presidential ambitions during the South Carolina primary in 2000 and who stood to be the leading fund raiser of his Republican rival in 2008? To be sure, over the course of his investigation, McCain seemed only intent on looking into Abramoff’s lobbying while turning a blind eye to the indiscretions of other lobbyists in Indian country. In fact, in 2004, around the time McCain’s Senate Indian Affairs Committee hearings got underway, the Village Voice published an article on Reed and Stone’s unseemly and exploitative business practices in Indian County.

(Link: Village Voice article)

In addition to questionable contracts, the article referenced the duo’s influence peddling within the Bureau of Indian Affairs along with their vicious retaliatory actions towards anyone who obstructed their wider business interests. According to the Voice, Stone was also competing for business in the same market as Abramoff. For example, he worked on behalf of a separate client, Pinnacle Entertainment, to frustrate the casinos ambitions of the Jena Band of Choctaw Indians, a tribe which featured prominently in McCain’s hearings, around the same time as Abramoff was undergoing a similar campaign for his client, the Louisiana Coushatta.

Former Louisiana Coushatta Council Member William Worfel, who hired Abramoff to lobby on behalf of his tribe, also recalled that Stone approached him for business. Worfel said, however, that he was put off by the fact that Stone had reportedly solicited swingers through ads and bragged about his role in stopping the 2000 Florida recount. Unimpressed and not wanting to be associated with a lobbyist he viewed as a “conniving pervert,” Worfel said that he turned Stone away.

In retrospect, it seems odd that McCain even held hearings on lobbying in Indian country in the first place. For one, it was reported that none of the laws Abramoff’s PR executive, Michael Scanlon, alleged violated involved tribes specifically.

(link: US vs. Scanlon)

Secondly, in a July 26, 2001 article in NA News, one of the Committee’s leaders, Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell, said that tribes should be able to negotiate their own contracts without unnecessary meddling. “Even if the negotiations are bad, that’s free enterprise,” Campbell was quoted as saying. “If you want to say a tribe made a mistake, too bad, you have to live with it. That’s what real sovereignty and self determination is all about.”

While characterizing Abramoff’s multi-million dollar fees as exploitative in his hearings, the Gila River Indian Community in Arizona which was represented by Steven Heeley, a former majority staff director and chief counsel to McCain on the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, was billed $11 million in lobbying fees, surpassing $8 million the firm, Akin Gump Strauss Hauer Feld, LLP, assessed to AT&T during the same period. Yet, McCain has not called for an investigation into these fees, which are comparable to those commanded by Abramoff, reflecting the Senator’s favoritism towards lobbyists connected to his office.

When asked in an interview why McCain did not look into the activities of other lobbyists, like Stone and Reed, Campbell, who also presided over McCain’s hearings, replied: “Congress has a limited amount of time in which to investigate these matters, and after we looked into Abramoff, we needed to move on with other business.” What he also failed to disclose is that Reed and Stone were close to Campbell and McCain’s office, as reported in the Voice. In fact, tribal insiders said, once Campbell left the Senate for private practice, he solicited business with one of Abramoff’s former clients – the Saginaw Chippewa tribe as did his former aide, Deputy Assistant Secretary Aurene Martin, while both were employed with Holland & Knight.

The competition among lobbyists to represent wealthy Indian tribes in a market valued at tens of billions of dollars is brutal. A number of professionals have allegedly found their careers in tatters at the hands of Reed and Stone, including, for example, Wayne Smith, an assistant to Deputy Secretary Neal McCaleb who oversaw gaming at the BIA. According to the Voice, Reed attempted to have Smith support a faction within a tribe which he (Reed) represented while Stone reportedly exerted pressure on Smith to influence a BIA decision in his favor. When Smith did not deliver to their satisfaction, New Jersey Senator Bob Torricelli reportedly wrote a letter to Secretary of Interior Gale Norton calling for an investigation into Smith. (Stone said he “probably” got Torricelli to do it, the Voice reported.) Then, strange faxes reportedly began arriving at the BIA from Stone’s allies deriding Smith and setting off a chain reaction which eventually resulted in his being removed from the post.

As reported in the Voice; this duo has also helped secure jobs for their allies within the BIA, whom they have lobbied on behalf of their clients. Stone, for example, sent letters on Bush-Cheney Presidential Transition Foundation letterhead to tribal leaders asking them to support the appointment of McCaleb as head of the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Once he was named, Reed then reportedly “coordinated” efforts to get McCaleb confirmed through the Senate hearing. Reed also allegedly nixed the candidacy of McCaleb’s rival for the post – Tim Martin, who was Abramoff’s preferred candidate. Part of the campaign to frustrate Martin’s appointment, according to the Voice, included a “kiss-of-death” endorsement from Donald Trump, a client of Stone’s who was “all over the media at the time for having funded and anti-Indian advertising campaign in New York.” According to the Voice, Stone said he “most certainly did” the Trump letter.

Smith was also quoted as saying that McCaleb informed him that Reed was “very important to the White House” and gave him a short list of insiders and lobbyists, including Reed, whom Smith should “talk to and make sure they don’t get upset with you.” For her part, Deputy Assistant Secretary Aurene Martin, “always dealt with Reed’s partner, (John Fluharty)” and “urged me to be helpful to him,” Smith was quoted as saying. Referencing Indian gaming as “highly lucrative,” Reed told Smith, “it’s our turn.”

While McCain took Deputy Secretary Steven Griles to task in his hearings for carrying water for Abramoff at the BIA, the Senator certainly did not widen his purview to challenge the pervasive lobbying and influence of the agency by other lobbyists, like Reed and Stone. However, given that Reed and his allies lobby and direct campaign contributions to McCain’s office, they needn’t have worried about being called out on their conduct.

During his 2008 presidential run, McCain has sworn off taking tribal money, but continues to accept donations from lobbyists whose firms represent tribal clients. Recently, over the course of three election cycles, a lobbying firm aligned with McCain – Akin Gump, and its affiliate, Ietan Consulting, which represent at least 21 tribal clients combined, have cut $41,000 in checks to McCain’s committees. Represented by Reed’s Chesapeake Enterprises, the Mashantucket Pequot, which owns Connecticut’s Foxwoods Casino and which sought federal representation as it awaited recommendations by a National Gambling Impact Study Commission, contributed $40,000 to McCain. Had Abramoff not been dislodged as lobbyist, he would most likely have still been competing for the business of wealthy tribal clients, directing campaign contributions to leaders of his choosing as opposed to those targeted by Reed and associates.

The competitive drive for lobbyists and legislators to gain access to the campaign contributions of casino-rich Indian tribes is due, in part, to the very laws governing campaign finance which McCain set in place. As a result of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform legislation, a loophole was created which allows Indian tribes, as “sovereign nations” to make unlimited donations to candidates, providing well heeled tribes extraordinary influence on Capitol Hill and a prized resource for politicians hungry for cash.

Furthermore, after McCain worked with Reed to investigate Abramoff, Reed and his business partners, who have raised money for the Senator, assumed representation of some of Abramoff’s wealthiest tribal clients, revealing a decided conflict of interest. For example, after Abramoff’s ouster, the Saginaw Chippewa tribe was claimed by Scott Reed’s Chesapeake Enterprises and Larry Rosenthal’s Ietan Consulting. In another example, Johnston & Associates, which jointly represents the Tunica-Bilxoi tribe with Ietan Consulting and Chesapeake Enterprises, reflecting a mutuality of business interests, now represents the Louisiana Coushatta; after Abramoff was dislodged, another tribe, the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians, was claimed by Akin Gump, and Ietan Consulting claimed another Abramoff client, the Kickapoo Tribe of Texas.

(Links: Johnston & Associates, Ietan Consulting, Chesapeake Enterprises, and Akin Gump.)

Before leaving office and claiming at least one of Abramoff’s clients for herself, Acting Assistant Secretary of Interior, Aurene Martin, who has since joined Ietan Consulting, approved gaming compacts between the state of Arizona and 17 of the state 22 federally recognized tribes, no doubt improving the odds of acquiring them as prospective clients for her new employer and business partners and campaign contributions for McCain and his lobbyist allies.

(link to this article)

“Ask Jack Abramoff if I’m an insider in Washington,” McCain was quoted as saying. “You’d probably have to go during visiting hours in the prison, and he’ll tell you and his lobbyist cronies of the change I made here.” The only changes appear to be a changing of the guard, with Reed and allies now dominating the tribal gaming playing field and keeping McCain’s campaign coffers awash with cash.

Former Abramoff Client Lobbyists representing tribe after Abramoff’s ouster

Saginaw Chippewa tribeReed’s Chesapeake Enterprises and business partners, Larry Rosenthal and Aurene Martin of Ietan Consulting
Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla IndiansAkin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld (which has entered a strategic alliance with Ietan Consulting)
Kickapoo Tribe of TexasIetan Consulting
Louisiana CoushattaJohnston & Associates (which represents the Tunica-Biloxi tribe jointly with Chesapeake Enterprises and Ietan Consulting.)
  1. How and Why McCain and His Allies Destroyed Abramoff

A Scheme Among Lobbyists, Tribal Dissident, The Washington Post, and McCain’s Committee Exposed

By Susan A. Bradford

Delivering an address at the Saginaw Chippewa reservations in 2006, the tribe’s lobbyist, Larry Rosenthal, who is an associate of Republican lobbyist Scott Reed’s, said that the investigation into Jack Abramoff got underway in 2000. This was the year in which superlobbyist Jack Abramoff and his allies torpedoed Senator John McCain (R-AZ)’s presidential ambitions in South Carolina. The circumstances surrounding the defeat were apparently quite devastating for McCain and his family. Attacks on the Senator’s character emerged in “push poll” telephone calls and fliers to constituents. Mud was flung at him from all directions, alleging that he had fathered an illegitimate child, that his wife was a drug addict, and that he was rendered mentally unstable from having succumbed to post-traumatic stress disorder during his POW days in Vietnam. He was also accused of being a dangerous “Manchurian candidate.” The assault so traumatized McCain that by his own accounts, he fell into “a very dark place.”

The smears against McCain during the South Carolina primary were alleged to have come from Bush’s political strategist and longtime Abramoff ally, Karl Rove, who had reputedly waged a dirty political campaign against Ann Richards when she was running against George W. Bush for the governorship of Texas. Rove had also worked with Congressman Mitch McConnell (R-KY) to defeat the Senator’s vaulted McCain-Feingold campaign finance legislation, while Grover Norquist, the President of Americans for Tax Reform, attacked McCain for neglecting to sign a pledge not to raise taxes. The Christian Coalition’s Ralph Reed coordinated the grassroots efforts against McCain in South Carolina, and Jack Abramoff, the Republican’s leading fund raiser, helped forces supporting Bush outspend McCain, contributing to the Senator’s humiliating defeat in South Carolina.

While it was reported that political hacks, like Eugene DelGaudio, unleashed scurrilous rumors that McCain had fathered an illegitimate child, Abramoff and Reed worked together to get out the Christian vote, and therefore engaged in “clean politics” by comparison. Nonetheless, these friends — Norquist, Reed, Abramoff, and Rove — enjoyed a long personal and professional history together and had forged a formidable political alliance, stemming from their days as College Republicans.

This alliance catapulted their careers onto the nation’s political stage years later, and McCain, appreciating the strength of their opposition against him, attempted to break their bond. Looking back at history, Grover Norquist told reporters that “McCain … misused his Chairmanship of the Indian Affairs Committee for two years to attack me and Ralph Reed because he thinks we beat him in South Carolina. He has told people I personally spent $12 million to defeat him in South Carolina. He is delusional.”

By holding hearings in his Senate Indian Affairs Committee on Abramoff’s lobbying in Indian country, McCain was able to find expression for his longstanding grudge and in the process, eliminate from the political landscape the lobbyist who very likely would have been the leading fund raiser for his Republican challenger for the 2008 presidential nod and who could have frustrated his political ambitions once again.

Before the investigation, Abramoff had enjoyed a long and prosperous run as one of the most successful Republican lobbyists and fund raisers in the country. Given his track record and vast influence within the Bush Administration and among leaders in Congress, he was quickly claiming the cash-rich tribal clients who had previously been represented by Republican lobbyist Reed and his business partners. Abramoff posed serious competition to these lobbyists who were vying for business in the multi-billion dollar tribal casino market. When the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act was passed in 1988, Indian gaming was a $100 million industry; by the mid-1990s, that number had reached around $6 billion. Recent estimates value the industry at $20 billion and growing. The stakes are high and the battles fought for clients in this market, brutal. Bitter over constantly losing business to Abramoff, Reed and his allies helped investigate and deliver him to McCain’s hearings.

The lobbyists in question directed campaign contributions from their wealthy tribal clients to McCain and his Committees, giving him a financial stake in their enterprises. Rather shrewdly, the Senator had positioned himself in the Senate Indian Affairs Committee. As a result of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance legislation, a loophole was created to allow Indian tribes, as “sovereign nations” to make unlimited donations to candidates. As a result of this legislation, McCain, as an influential leader in the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, would be one of the largest beneficiaries of tribal campaign contributions.

As Rosenthal stated at the Saginaw Chippewa tribe that taking down Abramoff “was not easy. Jack Abramoff was a very powerful person at the time.” However, he told the tribal membership that “it all started with me and Sue Schmidt,” tribal insiders said. In his presentation, Rosenthal said that Schmidt had noticed stories in the American Press newspaper in which dissidents from one of Abramoff’s clients, the Louisiana Coushatta, were alleging that “there is 18 dollars missing. And where did it go?” The dissidents said that the money was being taken out of sacred tribal accounts such that, he said, “they could no longer make payments to their housing, their education, or their health care.”. Interestingly, when the tribe’s leadership was challenged about this, Rosenthal said, they “wouldn’t do anything. They did not fire Mr. Abramoff. They did not take this into account.” Not getting the results they sought, Rosenthal stated, the dissidents then “leaked the audit) to a local newspaper, …(and so) the story was out on the wires, and a reporter by the name of Sue Schmidt from the Washington Post had read the story, and Sue Schmidt had talked to other tribes who were clients of Abramoff and talked to other lobbyists in Washington…She realized something was wrong here, so she did an investigative study.”

(Insert video of Rosenthal speaking before Saginaw Chippewa tribal membership)


How this all got started. There’s an old saying my father told me: believe half of what you see and  nothing you hear….There is a tribe down in Louisiana, the Coushatta tribe. The Coushatta tribe has had a lot of political turmoil between the

membership and the Tribal Council for a number of years now. About six years ago, the Tribal Council, a couple of members of Council began asking questions as they could no longer make payments their housing, their education, or their health care…

so some of their members said, ‘There is 18 million dollars missing.’ And where did it go? They did an audit, privately in $18 million written to your PR folks in Washington, Jack Abramoff and Michael Scanlon..and the Tribal leaders wouldn’t do anything.

They did not fire Mr. Abramoff. They did not take this into account. So they took that audit and leaked it to a local news reporter. And this news reporter wrote this story saying this tribe, which has a successful gaming operation cannot account for $18 million

that went to Jack Abramoff and this guy, Mike Scanlon, so the story was out on the wires, and a reporter by the name of Sue Schmidt from the Washington Post had read the story and Sue Schmidt had talked to other tribes who were clients of Abramoff and

talked to other lobbyists in Washington …she realized something was wrong here, she did an investigative study. There is not one tribe which has been defrauded by Jack Abramoff who supports this guy and Mike Scanlon. Every single tribe which has been

defrauded …it was not easy…Jack Abramoff was a very powerful person at the time….You are going to be reading more and more about Jack Abramoff and his ways…You should be proud of your government took steps to put and end to it and get your money back.

I was proud to work with the Tribal Council and what they did to Jack Abramoff..and every other tribe who has been defrauded by them is doing the same thing this Tribal Council is doing”

At the time, a spokesman for the tribe told reporters that these dissidents were attempting to create an “illusion of crisis,” and the dissidents expressed their “shock” that they had somehow been misinformed about Abramoff. (insert link for American Press article) Yet, years later, neither the Washington Post nor the Committee’s Final Report had noted these corrections. When asked why he thought the Senate Indian Affairs Committee didn’t correct the dissidents’ misstatements, former Louisiana Coushatta Council Member William Worfel, who had hired Abramoff, said in an interview that “It’s embarrassing for powerful people to admit that they are wrong, and easier to go with the lie.”

Contrary to Rosenthal’s characterizations, Abramoff’s other clients did not appear to be defrauded either. In fact, the Choctaw Nation’s venerable Chief Philip Martin, who had presided over his tribe for decades, leading it from poverty into prosperity, told reporters that he hadn’t seen any fraud in the paperwork either.

(Article link)

We definitely got our money’s worth or we wouldn’t be doing it,” Martin was quoted as saying. In response to Martin’s continued defense of Abramoff, the incoming chief, Beasley Denson, was quoted as saying, “Was (Martin’s Administration) totally ignorant in doing business with lobbyists, or are they participants in the scheme?”

For his part, Worfel stated in his testimony before the Senate Indian Affairs Committee that Abramoff’s firm was complicit in whatever fraud his lobbyist was alleged to have performed. Prior to the investigation, he too had defended Abramoff’s fees.

The former chief of the Saginaw Chippewa tribe, Maynard Kahgegab, Jr., has remained steadfast in his support of Abramoff and belief that Abramoff provided value for the money invested in him. Kahgegab was also predictably denied a voice in McCain’s hearings. “I’ve had the pleasure of working with Jack Abramoff and Team Abramoff despite John McCain and the Senate Indian Affairs Committee and their misinformation about our Tribe, regarding the work Jack accomplished,” he asserted in a written statement. “ The Congressional Record speaks for itself.” He chalked up the attacks against Abramoff and Scanlon to “political retaliation.”

Former Council Members of the Saginaw Chippewa tribe back him up on this. In a letter to the Senate Indian Affairs Committee leadership, they stated that: “We are concerned that the Committee and the public are reaching unfounded conclusions that are causing harm to our Tribe and to our consultants. We have been well served by our former consultants, Jack Abramoff and Michael Scanlon. The fees we paid these consultants were in line with revenues involved in our businesses, and we received excellent services for the money we spent. The fees we paid have been more than made up by the millions in earmarked appropriations that we received, the hundreds of meetings between Saginaw Chippewa officials and Congressional staff that were arranged, and the fact that thanks to their work, we have the ability to continue our business enterprises.”

(link to this letter.)

Kahgegab even produced evidence that for the $14 million paid to Abramoff, the tribe had received over $19 million in appropriations, and this return did not even begin to incorporate the fact that Abramoff and Scanlon were protecting a market share valued in the hundreds of millions of dollars.

(link to proof of appropriations.)

Ironically, once Rosenthal assumed control of the client, the tribe actually increased its expenditures, paying out $15.3 million in 2007, Political MoneyLine reported.

(Link proof of this expenditure.)

Somehow the assertions of Abramoff’s supporters were given short shrift in the hearings while lies and spin of dissidents who were seeking to enhance their tribal power were allowed to go unchallenged and to stand as the unmitigated truth.

While these inconsistencies may seem strange, they are understandable once the investigation is placed within a wider context. As tribal sources have confirmed, the Abramoff investigation was orchestrated by a group of lobbyists aligned with Republican lobbyist and McCain fund raiser, Scott Reed. As Rosenthal told the Saginaw Chippewa tribe: “I was proud to work with the Tribal Council and what they did to Jack Abramoff…and every other tribe who has been (allegedly) defrauded by them is doing the same thing this Tribal Council is doing.”

In many instances, lobbyists connected to Reed were working behind the scenes with tribal dissidents to discredit and dislodge Abramoff. Once that feat was accomplished, those tribal leaders rose to power, or consolidated their power position within the tribe, while Abramoff’s allies were pushed out or demoted. Lobbying firms aligned with Reed also claimed a number of Abramoff’s clients over the course of the investigation. For example, Saginaw Chippewa SubChief Bernie Sprague said that a lobbyist assisted him in helping to investigate Abramoff; tribal members identified that lobbyist as Scott Reed. Once Abramoff was dislodged, Sprague claimed a seat on Tribal Council and hired Reed and Rosenthal as lobbyists.

In the case of the Agua Caliente tribe, Scott Dacey of PACE LLP, a lobbyist Abramoff replaced at the tribe and who is a business associate of Reed’s, assisted Chairman Richard Milanovich, who was very critical of Abramoff from the beginning. Once the investigation got underway, this tribe was claimed by Akin Gump Strauss Hauer Feld, a firm which has entered a strategic alliance with Rosenthal’s Ietan Consulting.

Within the Louisiana Coushatta tribe, Bennett Johnston of Johnston & Associates, was “was always at the tribe talking to the Council and plotting his return” once the investigation began, Worfel said. During the assault against Abramoff, Johnston was promoted in the local newspapers as one who engaged in “traditional lobbying” and commands more reasonable fees that his rival.

Did Reed and his business associates who were rapidly losing wealthy tribal clients to Abramoff actually conspire to discredit and dislodge their rival? According to tribal insiders, that answer is yes. While Reed and his allies was working with dissidents behind the scenes since 2000 to remove him from power, their opportunity arrived in 2003. That year, Sprague was thrown off Tribal Council. for “harassing Elders about membership issues,” tribal members said. This representation is confirmed in statements Sprague gave to the Tribal Observer after his dismissal: “(Fellow Council Members) have taken my job, and if they think it is over, they’re wrong….Our Tribal government is not a dictatorship. No one has the authority to tell me who I can talk to and share information with when it comes to the membership.”

In an interview, Sprague recounted how painful it was for him to lose his Council seat and then, shortly thereafter, his Parks & Recreation job. “I got my letter in the mail,” he said. “I was running Boating Week for the tribe at the time. My wife was crying. I asked what is going on, what about my youth league tomorrow. I can’t go, or they will arrest me. Sixty kids will be there, and they need me.” He then said he called Chief Maynard Kahgegab, Jr., telling him that the tribal members all needed to get along, but was rebuffed. “They took my reputation and my income,” he said. “Their only thought was to hurt me. I was devastated. The bills don’t go away. I had to survive.”

Once he was removed, Rosenthal and Reed teamed up with Sprague to help him reclaim his Tribal Council seat so they could claim the Saginaw Chippewa tribe as a client. This would be accomplished by dislodging Abramoff and Scanlon and then hiring their team to replace them. First, Abramoff would have to be thoroughly discredited, and in order for this to happen, history would have to be rewritten, portraying Abramoff as an exploiter and his clients, as victims. By the time McCain’s hearings rolled around, Sprague seemed to have forgotten about the membership issues which resulted in his job loss. Instead, he said, he had been thrown off Tribal Council for questioning the lobbyist’s high fees. “I knew when I exposed Abramoff’s scam, I would lose my tribal seat,” he said.

According to sources within the Saginaw Chippewa tribe, Reed and Sprague then joined forces and embarked on a trip to Louisiana and Mississippi to powwow with dissidents among Abramoff’s casino-rich tribal clients in those states who aspired to power. An arrangement was apparently made in which these dissidents agreed to dislodge Abramoff and the leadership he represented in exchange for achieving tribal power and hiring Reed and/or his lobbyist allies who would make this all possible, tribal sources said.

A similar pattern emerged among Abramoff’s tribal clients, reflecting Reed and Sprague’s hand. Once Abramoff was dislodged from the Louisiana Coushatta, for example, Senator Bennett Johnston, a business associate of Reed’s, was rehired as tribal lobbyist. David and Kevin Sickey, who were among the dissidents allegedly working with Reed, alternatively served as tribal Chairman thereafter while Council Member William Worfel, who hired Abramoff, chose to leave the tribe on his own accord following a barrage of vicious attacks against himself and his family. Johnston, who compares Abramoff as Hitler, (“Even Hitler was kind to his own children,” he said in an interview.) teamed up with Scott Reed’s Chesapeake Enterprises and Larry Rosenthal’s Ietan Consulting in 2002 to lobby on behalf of the Tunica-Biloxi tribe of Louisiana, reflecting a mutuality of business interests. During the assault against Abramoff, Johnston was also promoted in the local American Press as a better lobbyist than his predecessor on grounds that he pursued a more traditional form of lobbying and billed at a more reasonable rate. (Johnston charged between $10,000 and $20,000 per month in contrast with Abramoff’s monthly fees of between $150,000 and $180,000.)

The American Press is delivered to all the tribal mailboxes on the reservation. As his firm, Johnston & Associates, promises: “We have the respect to get the right message heard by the right people.” The contrived local newspaper reports, based on leaks and spin from dissidents, served a central public relations purpose – that is, to discredit the leadership Abramoff represented among tribal members, making them easier to topple and defeat in elections and drumming up support for Johnston. Schmidt published her information in the Washington Post, noticeably incorporating the false and misleading statements of dissidents while ignoring comments from Abramoff’s allies and others who were familiar with his work.

Shawn Martin, the American Press Bureau Chief, who witnessed Sprague and Reed’s foray through Louisiana and who was an unwitting participant in the dissidents’ efforts to dislodge Abramoff, wrote in an email:“Without making a telephone call, or looking through a document, I can tell you that among those Reed and Sprague met with (at the Louisiana Coushatta tribe) are David (Sickey), Flo Pitre, and Bertney Langely…I am pretty sure former tribal attorney Kathy Van Hoof may have been involved in this as well. I am equally sure that she, Bertney, and David met Reed in Washington.”

While dissidents reclaimed power within the Louisiana Coushatta tribe, the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians retained lobbyists who were part of Abramoff’s winning team. The candidate who defeated Chief Philip Martin in tribal elections ran on an anti-Abramoff campaign. That Martin lost surprised many outside observers as he was considered among the most revered and credible leaders in Indian Country and had represented the tribe for decades, helping to raise the reservation out of poverty and into prosperity through a well coordinated economic diversification and business development program.

The extent to which Reed and Sprague were able to acquire influence within the Mississippi Choctaw tribe was not immediately clear. However, (Shawn) Martin said, “After leading the tribe for more than 30 years, including building it into that economic powerhouse,(Choctaw Chief Philip Martin) is voted out…unbelievable..I always said Abramoff fumbled the golden football for failing to see the bigger picture. He also failed to keep his enemies closer than his friends.” Chief Martin said in an interview that Reed had not spoken to him – a revelation which seems odd considering that this lobbyist was working with McCain’s Committee to investigate fraud Abramoff had allegedly perpetrating against Indian tribes. It appears, however, that Reed principally communicated with the dissidents.

Tribal members pointed out that Reed’s cronies within the Saginaw Chippewa tribe also worked to discredit Abramoff through a website,, which provides news specifically targeted to Indian tribes. Once McCain’s hearings got underway, a special tab was created for Abramoff to archive articles which documented his alleged tribal abuses. This arrangement was facilitated by Carey Vicente, a Saginaw Chippewa appellate judge aligned with Reed’s tribal political allies, who served on the board of, inside sources said.“Notice how did not publish any articles on McCain’s improper relationship with lobbyist Vicki Iseman,” tribal members observed.

Once Rosenthal and Schmidt were satisfied with their story, Rosenthal said at the Saginaw Chippewa reservation, they took it to “important PR people in Washington, DC,” who then apparently blitzed the nation with damning allegations against Abramoff. It was not immediately known which “PR people” were contacted, though the tribe’s spokesman, Joe Somwich, a Rosenthal ally (and infamous “PR guy” Abramoff referenced in his emails) has taken credit for the entire effort.

After characterizing Abramoff as an unscrupulous predator within Indian Country against a sensational media backdrop, McCain was then able to call forth the Senate Indian Affairs Committee hearings, with the public rallying behind him while raising his national stature as a man bent on challenging entrenched monied interests in Washington, DC.

  1. McCain’s Political Theater

McCain’s Hearings Were One-Sided and Patently False

By Susan Bradford

McCain’s hearings amounted to “the court of public opinion,” former Senate Indian Affairs Committee Chairman, Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell, said in an interview. However, the public only saw one side of the story as Abramoff’s former tribal clients were represented by Indians who were working with Republican Lobbyist Scott Reed and his allies to dislodge him in the first place.

While a number of his tribal allies appeared at the hearings, they were not afforded an opportunity to offer testimony. It is questionable therefore whether the hearings were geared at uncovering the truth of Abramoff’s lobbying or merely serving a political agenda.

To be sure, the testimony provided by Indians who participated in the hearings served the purpose of portraying Abramoff as a predatory lobbyist bent on fast talking tribes out of their wealth, while these same witnesses stood to gain politically and financially, or at least avoid a public relations nightmare, from this depiction.

Take the Saginaw Chippewa tribe, for example. The chief witness against Abramoff was former SubChiefs Bernie Sprague, who had not only worked with Reed and Rosenthal to dislodge Abramoff and discredit him among his other tribal clients, but stood to gain a Tribal Council seat through the deception. His participation in the hearings also improved the casino prospects of other tribes in which he had a familial ties. One such tribe was Gun Lake, which Abramoff blocked and which was chaired by his uncle, David K. Sprague.

After Abramoff was dislodged, the new Tribal Council invested as much as $22 million to support Proposal One, a statewide initiative which buttressed the casino prospects of Gun Lake and other tribes in Michigan, a number of which were connected to Sprague and other Tribal Council Members, former Council Member Delores Jackson said.

Once the investigation got underway, Jackson said she confronted Chief Audrey Falcon, who alleged that he stole $14 million from the tribe, asking her, “If Jack did the things you said he did, why not take him to court to get the money back? Why did you get Congress involved and violate our sovereignty? Did you do your research? You’re ruining a good man’s reputation.”

Jackson said Falcon could not give her an explanation beyond the fact that the tribe did not have enough evidence to prevail in a lawsuit, and therefore took it to McCain’s Committee to get the results she sought. A number of tribal members were surprised at the speed at which the hearings came about, explaining that usually such an investigation takes years to get off the ground, and yet in this case, “it happened overnight,” she said.

A number of Saginaw Chippewa tribal members sat in the audience, many of whom were contesting the allegations being trumped out against Abramoff, and yet they were largely ignored. In one statement, members of the Saginaw Chippewa tribe who approached the Committee in support of Abramoff, wrote: “The Committee seems to be taking sides in intra-tribal politics and disputes by focusing its investigation on one side’s consultants and attorneys. …We would like to make it clear that Sub Chief Bernie Sprague does not speak for our entire tribe. In fact, if this investigation must proceed, we believe that to be impartial, it must scrutinize the current lobbyists’ purporting to do work on behalf of the Tribe – particularly in light of the fact that the Committee has been notified of serious alleged wrongdoing on their parts.”

(link supporting tribal letters/statements to McCain’s Committee)

These tribal members received no response to any of their letters, and were sanctioned within their own tribe by the Tribal Council, which was by then working with McCain’s Committee. As noted in a letter dated February 15, 2005 from Jackson to McCain and Senator Byron Dorgan (D-ND): “When the Senate Indian Affairs Committee launched the investigation into the tribe’s former consultants, was it the Committee’s intent to empower Chief Falcon and SubChief Sprague with the unending right to deny fellow council members First Amendment rights when they asked with the support of a majority of the tribal membership, that the scope of the investigation be broadened (to include other lobbyists)? Did the Committee intend to have the investigation turned into a weapon on the reservation against the civil rights of the citizens within our tribe? Did the Committee intend to give the Chief and SubChief the power to lock down tribal government buildings and create a police state? Did the Committee intend to give the Chief and SubChief the right to seize personal mail as tribal council property and attempt to prosecute the former Chief? Does the Committee or Congress as a whole support this behavior?”

Further, in another letter to Senators Nighthorse Campbell and Daniel Inouye, and cc’d to McCain, two Saginaw Chippewa Council Members, Milton Pelcher and Delores Jackson wrote, “We wish to express our concern with the current lobbyists investigation and the current majority of members on Tribal Council who refuse to share all information…We are also extremely concerned that you, your fellow committee members, and the men and women of the Federal Investigation Agencies are being mislead by Tribal Sub Chief Bernard “Bernie” Sprague and the Tribe’s federal lobbyists, Mr. Larry Rosenthal. It seems that only one side of the story is being shared with Tribal Council, the Tribal Community, and all parties involved in the current investigation…We urge you as leaders of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee…to listen to both sides of the story instead of a disgruntled tribal leader that is desperately trying to have your Committee draw conclusions that are only fitting to his own political agenda.”

They also made the point that the predecessor and successor lobbyists were engaging in similar lobbying strategies and tactics which were condemned in the hearings. In fact, these tribal leaders asked the Senate Indian Affairs Committee for an investigation into Rosenthal’s lobbying, and yet none was forthcoming. They also complained that “We are extremely concerned that Mr. Rosenthal appears to have detailed insider information about the Senate Indian Affairs Committee investigation as well as the Federal Grand Jury and Department of Justice investigations for which Mr. Rosenthal and Sub Chief Sprague continue to politicize on our reservation.”

The Tribal Council, which Rosenthal represented, also instituted removal actions against two duly elected representatives at the Saginaw Chippewa tribe – including Milton Pelcher and Delores Jackson, for example, who challenged the scenario being trotted out in McCain’s Committee. These same tribal members wrote to the Committee that “if this investigation must proceed, we belief that to be impartial it must scrutinize current lobbyists purporting to do work on behalf of the Tribe.– particularly in light of the fact that the Committee has been notified of serious alleged wrongdoings on their part.” Yet, the very lobbyists whose behavior they were calling into question were working with McCain’s Committee to investigate Abramoff before seizing his clients for themselves.

Once the hearings were over and Abramoff, Falcon, a tribal ally of Sprague’s, who hired Rosenthal, cheered on the savage treatment of the Committee’s leadership towards the ousted lobbyists in correspondence to her tribal members. “You should know,” she wrote, “there were several Senators at the hearing, including some of the greatest friends of Indian Country, (including) Senator John McCain. It is important to note that every one of these Senators viciously attacked Mr. Abramoff and Mr. Scanlon in their role to defraud our Tribe of millions of dollars.” Yet, Jackson said, Falcon has not yet produced an audit which shows exactly what money was stolen. The contracts were negotiated between Greenberg Traurig and the tribe, with attorneys representing both tribes; for the $14 million the tribe expended, it received over $19 million in appropriations and effective protection of its casino market, the driving economic engine of the tribe, which was valued in the hundreds of millions of dollars.

(link Falcon’s letter to tribal membership)

Further, the testimony Sprague offered in the hearings was patently false. “McCain knew Bernie was lying but said nothing,” his brother, Gary Sprague, said in an interview.

In fact, McCain had a longstanding political alliance with (Bernie) Sprague, which preceded Abramoff’s relationship with the tribe. Obviously Sprague and Rosenthal do not want Tribal Members to recall their prior close connection with McCain which would give the impression that the Senator’s concern is not necessarily in the best interest of the Tribe but those of his friends,” former Saginaw Chippewa Chief Maynard Kahgegab, whose administration Abramoff represented, said in an interview.

(Bernie) Sprague, who found Abramoff and Scanlon’s interference in tribal election’s offensive, told McCain’s Senate Indian Affairs Committee: “As this Committee knows, it is unheard of for nonIndians to get involved in tribal elections. This type of campaign has never before happened on our reservation.” However, in 1999, years before Abramoff assumed the tribe as a client, lobbyist Larry Rosenthal, a business partner of Reed’s, helped (Bernie) Sprague win his Council seat, as the Senator most surely knew – given that McCain met the new tribal administration with Rosenthal, who helped him prevail in that election, tribal members said. Rosenthal is most decidedly not Indian. The incoming Tribal Council, led by Chief Phil Peters, even endorsed McCain’s presidential candidacy in 2000.

(Invoices and tribal statements confirming Rosenthal’s involvement in the election of 1999.)

While taking Deputy Secretary of Interior Steven Griles, Saginaw Chippewa Legislative Director Chris Petras, and CREA head Italia Federici to task for being evasive and/or making misrepresentations in their respective testimonies in his Senate Indian Affairs Committee hearings, McCain freely allowed Sprague and other tribal participants, who had been working with Republican lobbyist Scott Reed to dislodge Abramoff, to perjure themselves without consequence.

For example, as evidence that Abramoff and Scanlon “robbed” his tribe, Sprague told the Committee that the Saginaw Chippewa Tribal Council lost millions of dollars on a database of voters in Michigan his tribe had purchased from Scanlon. “Our tribe paid nearly $4.5 million for a database of voters in Michigan,” he told the Senate Indian Affairs Committee leadership. “That’s right, $4.5 million for a database that we never saw.”

(Link Sprague statement/C-Span video of Sprague clip) juxtaposed with (Tribal Minute which demonstrates that Sprague was lying.)

However, according to a Tribal Council Minute dated October 1, 2004, Chief Audrey Falcon lent the database created by Abramoff’s public relations executive, Michael Scanlon, to the state of Michigan for a statewide initiative which buttressed the casino prospects for a tribe chaired by David K. Sprague, (Bernie) Sprague’s uncle. Just days before he was set to appear in the Senate hearings, on September 28, 2004, Sprague wrote to Falcon. “This memo is to remind you I will be in Washington, DC for the hearings with the Senate Committee for the period of September 27-30, 2004. The following is a list of issues that need attention or actions taken: Permission to allow Let’s Voters Decide campaign use the $4.5 million database. (contact Val Tillstrom, Campaign Manager. Joe Somwich has the phone number.)”

As further evidence of Abramoff and Scanlon’s alleged duplicity, Sprague told the Committee: “When I began to ask questions about the outrageous fees our tribe was paying these lobbyists, I learned that there were no reports or documentation for any work they may have performed.”

The insinuation was, of course, that Abramoff had essentially bilked the tribe out of millions of dollars while delivering little to nothing in return. However, during his final meeting with the Tribal Council, Abramoff delivered a thick black binder documenting his deliverables for his tribe which is currently in the possession of former Chief Maynard Kahgegab, Jr.; in an interview, the current Saginaw Chippewa chief, Federico Cantu, and his public relations spokesman, Joe Somwich, confirmed that they had seen the black binder.

A similar pattern was apparent among other former tribal clients of Abramoffs who participated in McCain’s hearings; their representations contrasted sharply with evidence, local news reports, and statements provided by Abramoff’s supporters. The version of events supported was largely that of dissidents working with McCain’s allies to build a case to dislodge Abramoff so that they could claim political power within their respective tribes and extend lucrative contracts to lobbyists connected to McCain’s office. The fact that the truth was largely absent in McCain’s hearings is therefore hardly surprising.

  1. Casinos for Relatives of McCain’s Star Witness

Abramoff Blocked Casinos Connected to Tribal Members Who Testified Against Him

By Susan Bradford

Jack Abramoff’s tactical error, and one which led to his downfall emanated from his efforts to protect his tribal clients’ market share from the encroachment of rival casinos. In a number of instances, he was blocking the casino ambitions of tribes in which powerful members among his tribal clients had strong financial and familial interests. In the end, Abramoff became a victim of his own success.

In the case of the Saginaw Chippewa tribe, published emails reveal, Abramoff’s public relations executive, Michael Scanlon, identified through a Market Infringement and Political Analysis, what he considered to be serious threats throughout the state of Michigan which would impact the tribe’s Soaring Eagle Casino and Resort’s market share. Among them were efforts by the Pokagon Band of Pottawatomi Indians, the Huron Band of Pottawatomi Indians, and the Gun Lake Band of Pottawatomi Indians to acquire casinos, and pursue various nongaming expansion initiatives and land into trust applications.

According to Scanlon, the tribe would lose $100 million if two of four competing tribal facilities became operational; if four became operational, he wrote in emails, “the financial impact will be devastating, so much so that we cannot measure its impact.”

Saginaw Chippewa SubChief, Bernie Sprague, who was an adversary of Abramoff’s tribal allies, disagreed with Scanlon’s analysis as he believed these tribes would eventually open their own casinos which were at various stages of development anyway. Once these competing tribes finally acquired gaming, Sprague argued, they would only capture a small percentage of the Saginaw Chippewa tribe’s casino market.

What Abramoff and Scanlon didn’t realize at the time is that by protecting the market share of the Saginaw Chippewa tribe, they were frustrating the casino ambitions of Sprague’s powerful and influential tribal relatives, who were scattered throughout the state of Michigan. Members of the Match-e-be-nash-she Band of Pottawatomi Indians (Gun Lake tribe), which was chaired by (Bernie) Sprague’s Uncle DK, were dually enrolled in other tribes, including the Huron Pottowatomi, the Pokagon Band — and Little River Band of Ottawa Indians, which was chaired by Lee Sprague, (Bernie) Sprague’s cousin, for example. Another source observed that the membership of the Gun Lake community was politically indistinguishable from that of Huron Pottawatomi for a nearly 40 year span between 1903 and 1992.

Many critics, including (Bernie) Sprague’s political adversaries within the Saginaw Chippewa tribe,couldn’t help but notice that members of his family were enrolled in tribes around Michigan which were alternatively identified as either Ottawa or Pottawatomi. “To which tribe do the Spragues belong,” one tribal member asked.

In a public statement the Gun Lake tribe observed that “It has been difficult for our members to forgo health and other federal benefits while the Tribe seeks federal acknowledgment.” Indeed, newspaper articles documented at the time that members of Gun Lake had migrated over to the Little River Band to take advantage of that tribe’s per capita judgment awards.

A highly influential tribal family, the Spragues had extensive reach among Indian groups in Michigan, which eventually formed tribes, like Gun Lake, whose casino ambitions Abramoff’s lobbying efforts frustrated.

From his perspective, (Bernie) Sprague believed that Indians should extend a helping hand to each other so that they could prosper as a group. His inspiration sprung from Christian charity and the pragmatic realization that through casinos, other tribes could acquire prosperity for future generations. His family was, after all, deeply connected to the tribal faith community, which was personally vested in the well being of tribal members throughout the state. In contrast, the Saginaw Chippewa members, whose interests Abramoff represented, could not fathom why they should have to draw from resources of their own tribe to finance casinos for their competitors.

In essence, Abramoff and Scanlon had been retained by the Kahgegab Administration to protect the market share of the Saginaw Chippewa tribe and to frustrate the casino aspirations of relatives of (Bernie) Sprague, who was connected to a long and distinguished line of very powerful and influential political and church tribal leaders scattered throughout tribes in Michigan. Sprague’s instinctive response in the face of these onslaughts was to protect his family and its extended community. In turn, he retaliated with a ferocity that shook Capitol Hill to its knees and which took down one of the nation’s most powerful and well connected lobbyists.

The real crime is that McCain allowed his Committee to be used as a venue for intra-tribal warfare to buttress the position of one group of Indians over another. There was no way Abramoff could have known of Sprague’s connections to the other tribes as his allies on the Mt. Pleasant reservation withheld that information from him. As a result, Abramoff became a casualty of intra-tribal warfare with his Saginaw Chippewa allies fighting on one side to protect the market share of their tribe. On the other side, Sprague and his allies were fighting to spread the bounty of their good fortune and prosperity with the other tribes of Michigan as the beneficiaries of prospective casino wealth and federal recognition included their extended network of friends and family.

The fact that Abramoff so successfully scuttled the efforts of other casino-seeking tribes who had ties to members of the Tribal Council he served ensured that a bullseye would be firmly planted on his back. With the support of his lobbyist allies, McCain was all too happy to pull the trigger to take down his greatest obstacle to the White House in 2008. The result was a scandal created by very powerful forces to protect what they held most dear – whether money, power, clients, family, or a combination thereof. Sadly, few had the integrity or character to stand up before the braying mobs and declare the truth. Instead, they allowed political expediency to trump all.

Tribal allies of former Chief Maynard Kahgegab, whose interests Abramoff represented and who consider themselves the watchdogs of the Saginaw Chippewa tribe, have monitored the work of the new Tribal Council run by Sprague and his allies very carefully. Among the crowning achievement of the new lobbyists has been the successful passage of Proposal One, which helped tribal competitors in the state of Michigan advance their casino ambitions, they said. Much to the frustration of some tribal members, since Abramoff’s ouster, Saginaw Chippewa tribe may have invested as much as $22 million into a statewide initiative, which served to buttress the casino prospects of other tribes scattered throughout the state of Michigan, who were competing for the same market share. Gun Lake also sought a loan from the Saginaw Chippewa tribe to help finance a casino, which would have emerged as a competitor to the latter tribe’s Soaring Eagle Casino and Resort.

Following the passage of Proposal One, seven new casinos were approved in Michigan in 2007, including one in Gun Lake for (Bernie) Sprague’s Uncle DK. Relatives of former Chief Audrey Falcon, who worked with McCain’s Committee to investigate Abramoff, control a Hannahville Tribe Casino in Romulus, which also improved its chances of acquiring a casino, tribal sources said. “While Jack was lobbying for us, there were only four federally recognized tribes in Michigan,” Saginaw Chippewa tribal activist Patricia Peters said. “Now tribes are crawling out of the woodwork – each seeking its own casino.”

Ultimately, Abramoff was a casualty of casino wars in which special interests were vying for business in a multi-billion dollar tribal casino market. As has been established, lobbyists connected to McCain’s office who stood to profit from those interests readily appealed for intervention, and the Senator was all too happy to betray the trust the American people had placed in him and use his public office to advance their business interests, all the while portraying himself as a hero bent on challenging entrenched monied interests.

(Link: Article confirming that Gun Lake gets casino)

(Link Proposal One info.)

(Link Tribal Council Minutes confirming Sprague’s request to use Scanlon Database for Proposal One.)

(Gun Lake documents showing majority signatories = members of Sprague family.)

  1. Tribal Council which Endorsed McCain as Presidential Candidate in 2000 Illegally Sold $1.5 Million Property at Lobbyist’s Direction

Rosenthal Said Chancery on Embassy Row Not Suitable for Indians

By Susan Bradford

Picture of Chancery

In 1998, the Saginaw Chippewa tribe of Michigan purchased an elegant chancery on Embassy Row in Washington, DC, which served as a venue for tribal leaders from around the country to host dignitaries and lobby Congress directly, reducing the reliance of tribal nations on lobbyists. The following year, lobbyist Larry Rosenthal instructed the Tribal Council which endorsed Senator John McCain for president, to sell the property despite the fact that federal law prohibits the sale of tribal; and without the express permission of Congress, tribal members said.

“Larry said ‘If you want a DC presence, rent a townhouse’, said former Saginaw Chippewa Council Member Delores Jackson. “He didn’t like the perception an embassy for tribes would generate on Capitol Hill. He thought it would make us appear too rich and powerful, leading members of Congress to deny us appropriations and other rights we were entitled to by treaties negotiated with the federal government. The chancery allowed us a place to stay when we came to Washington, DC and to lobby Congress directly, without the intervention of lobbyists. We could also host governmental officials, reflecting our sovereign status as tribal nations. I felt so proud when I stayed at the chancery. It made me feel as though we, as Indians, had finally arrived, and that we had respect which had long been denied us. Other tribes were also welcome to stay there when they came to Capitol Hill to lobby for their issues. But Larry didn’t want us becoming too powerful in our own right. The chancery would have reduced our dependency on lobbyists and the fees and campaign contributions they could command.”

Saginaw Chippewa Chief Kevin Chamberlain purchased the elegant chancery in 1998 at 927 15th St., NW in Washington, DC, just a few doors down from the Vice President’s residence for $1.5 million. Once Chief Phil Peters assumed control in 1999, incoming lobbyist Larry Rosenthal insisted that the tribe sell it and rent a townhouse instead, tribal sources said.

However, renting a townhouse was not really an option, said the Saginaw Chippewa’s Governmental Affairs Director Bill Cross, who researched the matter, as renting would cost the tribe $300,000 per year. Within a few years, he said, the tribe would have paid out more money than the original property was worth. Moreover, the tribe would not even get a return on the investment. In addition, a townhouse would hardly have the presence or gravitas of an elegant chancery on Embassy Row, Jackson said.

In March of 2000, the tribe complied with Rosenthal’s recommendation and dutifully put the chancery on the market. Shortly thereafter, the government of the Republic of Azerbaijan purchased the stately home at a $100,000 mark up. The property, which is estimated to be worth between $3.5 million and $12 million, according to current real estate reports, may have been sold under a clouded title as the Indian Non-Intercourse Act bars tribes from selling land without the permission of Congress. “This law was set in place to protect tribes from being exploited by opportunists,” said Jackson, “It appears the tribe had not acquired permission from Congress before the chancery was sold.”

However, in 2007, Rosenthal’s chief legislative ally, Congressman Dale Kildee (D-MI), who Chairs the Congressional Native American Caucus, helpfully authored legislation which would have cleared that title – seven years after the sale of the property. Signed by President George W. Bush on August 13, 2007, the bill (H.R. 2952) was widely hailed as a boon to tribal sovereignty. “The legislation …will enable the Saginaw Chippewa tribe to exercise a right that every individual or entity in the United States enjoys – the right to buy and sell land,” the tribe’s current chief, Fred Cantu, who has retained Rosenthal as lobbyist, told the House Resources Committee on July 11, 2007. “I want to be clear about why the Non-Intercourse Act can cause problems for modern day tribes. This Act prohibits the sale of all lands owned by a tribe, including fee land purchased by a Tribe and upon which they pay taxes and assessment….Under current law, the Tribe can purchase land in fee anywhere it wants. The tribe pays taxes on the property, pays for maintenance, but yet is legally forbidden from selling the land.”

Jackson said that Rosenthal – and Senator John McCain, whom the Peters Council endorsed for president after Rosenthal helped his chosen candidates prevail in the tribal election of 1999 — felt their power and influence would be greatly diminished on Capitol Hill if tribal nations could claim a strong voice of their own and lobby Congress directly, without having to retain lobbyists and expend hundreds of thousands of dollars per year in campaign contributions. The Saginaw Chippewa tribe discovered when its members were working out of that office in Washington, DC that legislators readily opened their doors to them and were interested in discussing their concerns, Cross said.

(Link: Documents confirming purchase and sale of property)

(Link: HR 2952)

(Link: Cantu testimony.)

  1. McCain Takes Official Actions for Lobbyists Who Replaced Abramoff at Saginaw Chippewa Tribe

McCain Receives Campaign Contributions, Takes Official Actions for Tribal Lobbyists

By Susan Bradford

Senator John McCain (R-AZ) has said on the campaign trail that he has “never done any favors for anyone – lobbyists or special interest groups.” McCain’s self-representation is disingenuous at best. In a very real sense, McCain held the hearings on behalf of Republican lobbyist Scott Reed and his tribal allies and tribal allies whose business interests Abramoff obstructed. However, after raking Abramoff over the coals for having exerted undue influence on the Bureau of Indian Affairs and having essentially “bribed” legislators to take legislative actions to advance the business interests of his clients, on closer inspection, the Senator has apparently received campaign contributions from clients whose lobbyists have sought and obtained influence with his office.

In a January 2006 contribution list submitted to the Tribal Council of the Saginaw Chippewa tribe,lobbyist Larry Rosenthal, who assumed the client along with Republican Scott Reed and former former Acting Assistant Secretary of the Interior Aurene Martin after Abramoff’s ouster, requested that the tribe give $5,000 to McCain on ground that the Senator “will move from his Chairmanship of the Commerce Committee to replace retiring Chairman Campbell to head up the Senate Indian Affairs Committee.”

Did McCain take legislative actions in exchange for this money? Establishing a quid-pro-quo is not an exact science. However, once McCain became Chairman of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, he assisted these lobbyists to help block of efforts by the Sault Saint Marie and Bay Mills tribes to build casinos off reservation in Romulus and Port Huron, Michigan – a move which would have infringe upon the casino market share of the Saginaw Chippewa tribe, which had given him campaign contributions.

Referencing the Sault Saint Marie and Bay Mills in a presentation before the tribe in 2006, Rosenthal said, “There have been a number of issues with off reservation gaming…all around the country, (tribes) are jumping over tribes who have been there for the point where Senator John McCain, who is Chairman of the Senate Committee of Indian Affairs and Congressman Richard Pombo, the Chairman of the House Resources Committee, which has jurisdiction over Indian programs, have both drafted legislation to end off reservation gaming.”

Link to video of Rosenthal addressing the Saginaw Chippewa tribe:


One commitment I make to you, is that our firm will never do anything to embarrass this tribe or its people…

One of the big issues that we have worked on which is most relevant to the tribe today is this issue of off reservation gamin and the last time I addressed the tribal membership this issue was beginning to heat up again. In the next month or so,

there are going to be hearings in Washington, DC on off reservation gaming. Let me just give you a quick background for those of you who may not know the history. The SSM and the Bay Mills Tribe have a land claim in upper Michigan….

They believe state wrongfully sold the land. What they have proposed to do…is we want to settle the land claim, but in order to do so, we’d like to get some land…in Romulus, MI and Port Huron, MI, but as we all know, those are the

historical lands of the Saginaw Chippewa tribe, not because the tribe says it, but thats what the treaties say. The SSM and Bay Mills tribe have come down to Washington and have said..our people roamed the state of Michigan…

Chief Falcon testified before Congress…As a result of that testimony and as a result of our work in Washington, people now know what the real claim is in that land. In the last year…there have been a number of issues with off reservation gaming..

all around the country…they are jumping over tribes who have been there for centuries…to a point where Senator John McCain, who is the Chairman of Senate Committee of Indian Affairs …and Congressman Richard Pombo, the Chairman of the House resources Committee which has jurisdiction over Indian progams have both drafted legislation to end off reservation gaming…

Aurene Martin is former Deputy Assistant Secretary in Bush Administration. Aurene was in charge of the Bureau of Indian Affairs. She is now working for the Saginaw Chippewa tribe. She is working of the Republican side of the aisle ,

and I work on the Democratic side of the aisle.

After offering his introductory remarks, Rosenthal then invited his colleague at Ietan Consulting, former Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Interior, Aurene Martin to “discuss with you briefly the legislation which has been introduced by Senator John McCain and Mr. Pombo and how it will impact what is happening in Michigan with Bay Mills and with Sault Saint Marie tribes.”

In her presentation, Martin discussed how she “first became familiar with Bay Mills…and had to review the situation for testimony for the same hearing as (Saginaw Chippewa) Chief Falcon.” While in public office, she as in a position to see confidential information concerning Bay Mills in an official capacity, which she was then able to use as a lobbyist, against that tribe, who was infringing upon the market share of her client.

Conceding that the Bush Administration “will support bills McCain and Pombo are introducing,” Martin said that “one of the things Larry and I have been doing is working with the staff” of McCain’s Committee “to get language for the tribes to limit them to stay in their ancestral areas and so far been successful..In the hearings in the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, McCain is discussing his bill…The process is ongoing.

Video of Aurene Martin addressing the Saginaw Chippewa tribe.


I am sure you are familiar with my uncle, who is a tribal judge here. I worked for Sen Ben Nightrhose Campbell I will never do anything to embarrass the Saginaw Chippewa tribe. Getting back to presentation, I was brought in October of last year

(2005)…brought on to deal with off reservation gaming…I first became familiar with Bay Mills when Acting Assistant Secretary ..and had to review situation for testimony for same hearing as Chief Falcon….The Administration will support bills McCain and

Pombo are introducing…

Chairman McCain’s bill…would eliminate off reservation…ability to do it altogether, limit other exceptions…to areas where tribes have historical tribes..these bills can about as part of long dialog..with state community leaders an tribes affected by proposal..

one of things Larry and I have been doing..working with NCAI and staff chairmans Indian Affairs Committee and Chairmans Pombo’s bill to get language for tribes…limit them to stay in their ancestral far we have been very successful…Hearings in

Senate Indian Affairs..McCain discussing his bill…The process is ongoing..hoping these bills will be successful….so tribes cant come into your territory.”

While the degree to which Martin and Rosenthal lobbied McCain’s office and which the Senator, in turn, carried water for their client was not immediately known, a more direct connection was established in a letter the Senator wrote in June of 2005 to ensure that the Bay Mills/Saulte Ste. Marie tribe’s casino was not added to the highway bill.

In a July 6, 2005 fax sent to the Saginaw Chippewa Tribal Council, Rosenthal wrote: “ We have been in contact with dozens of Congressional offices on this issue. We have also met with the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs and asked that Senator McCain send a letter opposing including the Bay Mills/Sault Ste. Marie proposal in the highway bill. Enclosed please find letter that was sent by Senator McCain.”

Sent to James Inhofe, Chairman of Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, and James Jeffords of the Senate Committee on Environmental and Public Works, McCain’s letters reads as follows:

Dear Chairman Inhofe and Senator Jeffords:

As conferees of HR2, I urge you to oppose the inclusion in the conference report on a highway bill of any provisions relating to Indian gaming or taking land into trust on behalf of an Indian tribe for the purposes of gaming. I have been informed that other conferees may seek to include in the conference report a provision relating to Indian gaming in Michigan. Such inclusion would not only circumvent the regular legislative process for considering exemptions to this process. I appreciate your assistance in keeping such a non-germane issue out of the highway bill. Thank you. Sincerely,

Senator John McCain

(link to Fax – Rosenthal’s cover sheet and McCain’s accompanying letter.)

Quid pro quo, anyone?

  1. Small Town Attorney Who Participated in McCain’s Hearings Became Counsel to Gov. Jindal

(Jindal represented dissidents in hearings and then became attorney for Louisiana Coushatta tribe. In this capacity, he directed tribe to give ten million plus dollars to an Internet business owned by a relative. That business failed. He also contracted vendors from his home town of Alexandria, to mobilize them on behalf of the tribe, as Abramoff had previously done. He then leveraged his position to become counsel for Gov. Jindal, who is running on platform of “clean governance” and reform. According to sources, the tribe “bought” that position for Faircloth, who received a glowing endorsement from Sen. David Vitter, who has managed to dodge an investigation of actions he took at the request of Team Abramoff. Jindal has been slated as possible running mate for McCain. I am waiting on documentation for Jindal/Faircloth scandal.)