Exposing Abramoff's Playbook: Play #2

Here's part two of my blog series.  Part one is here.  While reading this one, consider Senator John McCain's most recent criticism of the NIGC, saying he "doesn’t believe the NIGC is doing enough to regulate the industry.”  He appears to have a point. Play #2—Seize the Palace.  Concurrent with the eruption of the Tribal leadership dispute, the bad guys immediately exert control over the Tribe’s casino and other cash-generating enterprises—by violent force if necessary.


The bad guys know that in a war of attrition, a war chest is required—and there is no deeper war chest than replenishing Indian casino coffers.  They seize the gaming money to pay themselves and to recruit an army of others. 

Recall the following emails from Abramoff to his colleagues:  "I want all their MONEY!!!" “We're charging these guys up the wazoo . . . Make sure you bill your hours like a demon.”  This is precisely the state of mind of the bad guy-lawyers, who are sure to extract an enormous retainer up front so that they get paid no matter what ultimately happens to the Tribe.

The bad guys then deny gaming per capita payments to their opponents to prevent them from accumulating any war chest of their own, while increasing those payments to other Tribal members to attract them as allies.  Per capita monies are especially leveraged to buy votes in Tribal Council elections, or recall or initiative drives.  All of this is done in disregard of any Tribal revenue allocation plan and the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act.  (See also "Tribal Per Capitas and Self-Termination.")

Because what the bad guys really know is that the National Indian Gaming Commission Chairman will largely sit on the sidelines until the inert BIA decision-making process finally runs its course, and that in the meantime the NIGC will not take any meaningful steps to shut down an illegal gaming operation or otherwise stem illegality.  Recall that in Bay Mills the states argued that the “Commission only rarely invokes its authority to enforce the law against Indian tribes.”  The states appear to be right.  As we also saw in Bay Mills, the entire U.S. Department of Justice—from local U.S. Attorneys and FBI Special Agents,  to everyone at Main Justice—sits idle too, despite its clear statutory criminal and civil authority to intervene.  Indian Country could use Phil Hogen and Tom Perrelli right about now.

All the while,  the bad guys run roughshod over the Tribe’s entire gaming operation.  This increasingly includes heavily armed “security” personnel surrounding the casino, paid with gaming monies and tasked to by any means necessary, prevent legitimate Tribal officials from resuming control over the casino.

Stay tuned for further blogs exposing several other schemes from Abramoff's Playbook.

Gabriel “Gabe” Galanda is the Managing Partner at Galanda Broadman. He is a citizen of the Round Valley Indian Tribes. Gabe can be reached at 206.300.7801 or gabe@galandabroadman.com.