How Current  Campaign  Finance Reform Legislation
Increases Tribal Governments' Influence on Elections and Federal Agencies

The Federal Election Commission (FEC) has ruled that Tribal Governments are not subject to the same limits on campaign contributions as individuals and non-governmental groups. The question has been raised as to the wisdom and fairness of this ruling. It has been the hope of many that current campaign finance legislation, designed to limit the influence of special interest groups, would be written or amended to prevent unbridled tribal government campaign contributions. 

Despite the efforts of many citizens to pressure Congress to close the "tribal loophole," no Senator has had the courage to publicly address this issue. Here is some of the story.

Read CERA's letter to US Senators on the Tribal Loophole

Read CERA's letter to President Bush on the Tribal Loophole

Why Should We Care About Tribal Influence on Elections?

How Tribal Sovereignty Threatens Voting Rights
Elephants, Donkeys and Hippos (MS Word format)
by Elaine Willman

and...

The Best Governor the Tribes Could Buy?
 A Wisconsin Case History


A Simple Statement of the Issue by Ed Zuckerman, Editor of the PACS & Lobbies Newsletter:

 "Partnerships and other business forms are treated by FEC as "non-stock corporations". These entities can contribute without regard to the annual aggregate limit because they are not "individuals." However, these entities are treated as PACs and, if they raise or spend more than $1,000 in a single calendar year, they must register and disclose their receipts and expenditures. Indian tribes behave like a PAC (in that they give without restriction on aggregate contributions) and like an individual (in that they give without having to register and disclose)...and unlike either PACs or individuals, Indian tribes can use their tribal funds for contributions."
 
[Editor's Note: "Tribal funds" are millions of government dollars that come involuntarily from U.S. taxpayers and from tribal government businesses, especially casinos.]

Follow the Chronology:

May 15, 2000 -  FEC Issues a Decision

May 20, 2000 - BNA Money & Politics Report - An Early Warning

May 22, 2000 - Public Campaign Web Site Repeats Early Warning of Tribal Loophole

June 14, 2000 - Analysis of FEC Ruling on Tribal Status for Campaign Donations 

April 11, 2001 - Malkin Article Critical of McCain-Feingold Tribal Government Loophole

July 12, 2001 -  Congressman Rob Simmons Amendment to Close Tribal Loophole Rebuffed

July 16, 2001 - SIGMA Objects to Tribal Loophole

November 25, 2001 - Boston Globe Article Critical of Indian Government Loophole

January 3, 2002 - The National Review warns of Senator John McCain's interests in Reform Legislation 

January 12, 2002 - The Cato Institute objects to McCain-Feingold Bill Loophole

February 23, 2002 - LA Times Article Critical of Indian Government Loophole

February 27, 2002 - Associated Press Reports Little Effort Being Done to Address Tribal Loophole  

February 28, 2002 - Associated Press Reports Bush Concerned About Tribal Loophole

March 4, 2002 - The Christian Science Monitors Demands Tribal Loophole be Closed

March 4, 2002 - Fox News Reports Pending Problems Over Tribal Loophole

March 7, 2002 - Pro Family Organization Concerned by Gaming Influence 

March 15,  2002 - Citizen Group Cites Troubling Sources of Influence 

March 18, 2002 - LA Times Editorial Blasts the Failure of Congress to Address Tribal Loophole

March 19, 2002 - The Press Enterprise Notes Big Tribal Money Going to Local CA Elections

March 19, 2002 - USA Today: Campaign Finance Reformed or Rearranged?

March 20, 2002 - US Senate Passes "Flawed" Campaign Finance Reform Bill

March 27, 2002 - Press-Enterprise Warns of Tribal Influence on the Day Bush signs "Flawed" Bill

May 30, 2002 - Wall Street Journal Dismayed by Tribal Loopholes 

July 14, 2002 - Congressional Candidate Faces Tribal Money

July 7, 2002 - Tribal Funds Purchase Effective Lobbyists

August 8, 2002 - BIA Work Influenced by Tribal Money?

September 15, 2002 - Tribal Influence Growing Fast

September 16, 2002 - Tribal Money Goes to Government Overseers

September  27, 2002 - Tribe Claims Immunity from Disclosure law 

October 24, 2002 -  Wisconsin Tribal Governments Influence State Elections 

November 24, 2002 - California Tribe Claims Immunity From State Election Laws

January 6, 2003 - California Brings Suit Against Tribe Under Election Laws

January 9, 2003 - Palm Springs Tribe Facing Huge Fine for Ignoring CA Election Law from Copley News

January 16, 2003 - California Sues Tribe to Comply with State Election Laws from the AP

February 2003 -  Advocacy, Avarice or Addiction? - What is the price of Congress?  from CERA News

February 28, 2002 - Tribe Attempts to Buy Outcome of Los Angeles Election - from the LA Times

March 7, 2003 - Tribe Must Respect State Election Laws Judge Rules 

March 14, 2005 - FEC rule allow tribal contributions while receiving federal contracts


Time Magazine Exposé of Indian Tribe's Buying Political Favor in Washington
by TIME Magazine

California Elected Officials Swamped With Tribal Gaming Money from the San Francisco Chronicle

Voting Irregularities Alleged on South Dakota Reservations

Arizona Congressman J.D. Hayworth Big Recipient of Tribal Money

Cherokee Tribe Increases Campaign Spending

Tribe Claims Immunity From State Election Laws

Tribe Gives $100,000 Seeking Access to Federal Officials from the Desert Sun

Arizona Gaming Issue Spawns Unprecedented Tribal Spending 

Tribal Gaming Money Pours Into Political Pockets from the Center for Responsive Politics

Tribal Gaming Money buying influence in California by the Sacramento Bee

California Governor Davis - Under Tribal Control? by the Desert Sun

California Tribe Laundered Campaign Funds by the Los Angeles Times

How much are Tribal Governments Giving?   

How Tribal Money Helped Corrupt the Clinton Administration 

How the Radical Indian Movement Controls American Governments  by Darrel Smith

The Agenda of the Tribal Establishment  by Darrel Smith

Is this American Democracy…or Racism and Tyranny? by Darrel Smith

Campaign Contributions of the Native Kind
by Lisa Morris

Tribal Elections: Civil Rights for Members  by Lisa Morris

Pequot Tribe Spending Big Money on Elected Officials

Do Tribal Gaming Lobbies Own the California State Government? from the LA Times

Tribe's Political Power Growing Stronger

Tribal Lobbyists At Work from the New York Times

Tribes Seek Favor of the Party in Power

Tribes Seek More Favors With Money

Idaho Elections See More Tribal Money

Cherokee Tribe: Power Broker

Tribes Infuse $4,000,000 into Idaho Elections

Gaming Money Lures Non-Indians Too 

Ute Tribes Spends Big on Lobbyists from the Associated Press 

Top Tribal Contributors 2001 - 2002 Election Cycle from the Associated Press 

California Tribes Impact Legislation With Money from The Press Democrat

Alabama AG candidate and PAC supporting tribal gaming gets big campaign contribution from Blog.AL.com

Links Related to Campaign Financing

www.campaignfinance.org

www.opensecrets.org