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Whistleblower whose case led to OCE says outside ethics watchdog needed now more than ever

When Tom Rodgers heard House Republicans had voted secretly to gut the watchdog Office of Congressional Ethics, he says he couldn't help feeling a certain sad astonishment.

"I thought, 'My God, are we so flawed that we have no sense of history?'"

An attack on the OCE may have cut Rodgers, a consultant, activist and member of the Blackfeet tribe, closer to home than most.

As a whistleblower, Rodgers helped expose the Jack Abramoff scandal, which landed the notorious lobbyist behind bars, sent a congressman to prison, derailed the career of another - and, in 2008, led to the creation of the OCE.

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Policy.mic By Celeste Katz. January 03, 2017


State official 'pleased' with satellite voting numbers

Preliminary numbers from the June 7 primary election showed 424 voting-related users, either in new registrations or updates to registrations and absentee requests at the 13 satellite offices set up on Indian reservations, according to numbers from the secretary of state’s office.

Secretary of State Linda McCulloch said she was "pleased and encouraged" by the number of voters who used the facilities.

"Hundreds of citizens were able to register and vote thanks to our satellite offices," she said via email. "I look forward to an even greater turnout during the 2016 General Election."

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Great Falls Tribune July 20, 2016


Costs of Indian voting rights legal counsel released
Money spent by counties defending a 2012 lawsuit on Indian voting rights could have gone toward setting up satellite voting and alternative voting areas on reservations for years, Indian voting activists said.

Blaine County paid $119,071 and Rosebud County paid $116,000 for outside legal counsel in the 2012 Wandering Medicine lawsuit, which was settled in 2014, a figure that could reach about $460,000 when combined with Bighorn County, which was also involved in the lawsuit, and the $100,000 paid to the plaintiffs' attorneys, activists said.

However, attorneys involved in the litigation say that is not the case..
-Phil Drake, Great Falls Tribune 6:18 p.m. MDT June 10, 2016

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Tribes' lawsuit could decide who controls Senate in 2015
-Jordy Yager, THE HILL tuesday, july 16, 2013

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Tribes say rights violated in 2012 election
Arguments are scheduled in a lawsuit over tribal members' ability to vote.
-John S. Adams, USA TODAY10:50a.m. EDT March 18, 2013

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Montana Native Voters Aren't Equal - But That's Not Enough, Says Judge
U.S. District Court Chief Judge Richard Cebull has denied an emergency request by Montana Indians, including lead plaintiff Mark Wandering Medicine, Northern Cheyenne, for satellite early-voting offices on the Northern Cheyenne, Crow and Fort Belknap reservations. The October 30 decision, in federal court in Billings, has the effect of postponing resolution of the issue until after the election.
-Stephanie Woodard, Indian Country - 11/5/12

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Judge rejects Native Americans' lawsuit over access to polling places
A federal judge in Montana has shot down an attempt by Native American tribes to get better voting access.
-Jordy Yager, The Hill - 10/31/12

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Native Americans sue for early voting
American Indian groups in Montana have sued for early-voting offices on their reservations. Their request is opposed by election officials, both Republicans and Democrats, who say they don't have the time or resources to make it happen. The battle will be fought this week in a federal court in Billings, Mont.
-BY STEPHANIE WOODARD Open Channel, NBCNews.com - 10/16/12

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The Whole Story >


Tribal members sue for voting access
A group of American Indians from the Crow, Northern Cheyenne and Fort Belknap reservations sued state and county election officials in federal court on Wednesday, seeking equal access to voting through satellite offices.
-Billings Gazette - 10/10/12

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read more about CASE NO. 1:12-CV-135-RFC

read more about CASE NO. 1:12-cv-00135-RFC


VIDEO: Protesting for equal access to the polls
Native American groups delivered a complaint to the federal courthouse in Billings that claims residents on reservations don't have the same access to the polls as other county residents.
-Billings Gazette - 10/10/12

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Jack Abramoff: I'm dedicated to repaying those I defrauded
In the lead-up to November's presidential election in the United States, groups on the right and left are sounding the alarm at the influence of money on US politics.
-HardTalk - 9/25/12

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Legislation to Give Tribes Bond Parity With States, Municipalities

-Mark Fogarty - 6/20/12

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HR 1505: The Latest Tribal Border War

-Heather Steinberger - 6/19/12

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Abramoff Scandal Secrets: Tribal Confrontation Sparks Journalist Mystery

-Rob Capriccioso - 03/08/12

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Jack Abramoff Confronted By Native American Tribes

-Paul Blumenthal - 03/07/12

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ABRAMOFF TRIED TO SWAY MEDIA COVERAGE

-Politico - 03/06/12

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Abramoff says his corrupting influence reached into the media

-Jordy Yager, The Hill - 03/05/12

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Tribes rip Abramoff, ethics watchdogs

-Jordy Yager, The Hill - 03/07/12

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Jack Abramoff Confronted By Native American Tribes

-Paul Blumenthal, The Huffington Post - 03/07/12

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Abramoff says his corrupting influence reached into the media

-Jordy Yager - 03/05/12

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Abramoff talks corruption in Washington

-The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell

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Abramoff Whistleblower Tom Rodgers Slams '60 Minutes' and Leslie Stahl's Softballs
Tom Rodgers, Native American of the Blackfoot tribe, criticizes the velvet treatment of Jack Abramoff on CBS' 60 Minutes on 11/6/11; Rinku Sen of Applied Research Center says Obama's ICE is destroying families by deporting parents of kids who are US citizens.
-by PETER B. COLLINS on NOVEMBER 7, 2011

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The Legacy of the Abramoff Scandals.
"You know, scandals are very effective tools for the opposition in an election year. And we saw, particularly in 2006, when the Republicans lost the House of Representatives and in large measure, they lost it - at least according to exit polls among the voters - because of the Abramoff scandals, where, you know, a prominent lobbyist in Washington was wining and dining and paying off members of Congress, some of whom went to jail."
-NPR News analyst Cokie Roberts, March 8, 2010

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Tom Rodgers on Bill Press Show
Monday, November 7, 2011

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Chumash get high-powered lobbying help in Washington, D.C.
Santa Ynez Notebook
OCTOBER 3, 2005

Santa Ynez Notebook

The sparring between Santa Barbara County and the Chumash tribe moved to the national stage Sept. 7-8, as Chumash Chairman Vincent Armenta and Secretary/Treasurer Kenneth Kahn went to Washington to meet with a host of influential legislators, lobbyists and their aides.

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Article “Stacked Deck”
From The Legal Times
Vol XXI
No. 44
MARCH 29, 1999

“STACKED DECK”- Tribes Claim Gaming Panel Favors Old-Line Casinos. With the federal commission on gambling in the midst of drafting its final report—which will incluing industry—pro- and anti-gambling forces of all stripes are girding for a fresh lobbying de recommendations to Congress on how to address the rapid growth of the gambattle.

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Excerpt from Article “Is Panel Biased Against Tribes?”

“IS PANEL BIASED AGAINST TRIBES?”- Indian tribe lobbyist Thomas Rodgers says that members of the gambling commission harbored a bias against his clients.

… Rodgers and others who have kept close tabs on the panel, appointed in 1997 to study the social and economic impacts of legalized gambling, argue that after almost two years of gathering information and testimony on all forms of gambling, the commissioners seem pointed to issue a report that takes specific aim at Indian gaming.

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