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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.

The trip was set up by Carlyle Consulting of Alexandria, Va., lobbyists who specialize in Native American issues. The tribe voted 64-17 in August to budget up to $100,000 annually for help in D.C.

"California is a laboratory for all the significant issues involving tribal gaming in America," Tom Rodgers, head of Carlyle Consulting, said in 2003.

Mr. Rodgers' firm also works for the National Indian Gaming Association, whose PAC contributed $103,529 during the 2004 election cycle to federal candidates, according to the Web site Opensecrets.org. Mr. Rodgers opened some impressive doors for the Chumash executives.

Among those on the visit list: John Tahsuda, deputy chief of staff to Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, Senate Indian Affairs Committee; legislative assistant Bryan McKeon of Sen. Barbara Boxer's office; legislative assistant Joel McFadden of Sen. Diane Feinstein's office; Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Visalia; George Skibine, acting deputy assistant secretary for policy and economic development in the Office of the Assistant Secretary - Indian Affairs, Department of the Interior; Alison Binney, general counsel to Senate Indian Affairs; and Mark Van Norman, director of the National Indian Gaming Association.

Mr. Rodgers declined comment. Larry Stidham, attorney for the Chumash, declined to comment.

Carlyle Consulting's Web site says its clients include the National Indian Gaming Association, California Nations Indian Gaming Association, the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe, the Tule River Tribe, the Viejas Bands of Kumeyaay Indians and Levi Strauss & Co.

The Office of the Clerk of the U.S. House of Representatives says Carlyle Consulting also represented the Kickapoo Tribe in Kansas, Muscogee Nation of Florida, the Dunlap Band of Mono Indians and the Chumash.

A member of the Blackfoot Tribe, Mr. Rodgers established Carlyle Consulting in 1994, adding the National Indian Gaming Association (NIGA) as clients in 1996. "In 1997, Mr. Rodgers worked closely with NIGA's membership to defeat a House Ways and Means Committee legislative proposal to tax Indian governments," says the site.

"As our primary lobbyist and legislative insider in Washington, Tom (Rodgers) has been a key advisor on issues affecting Native Americans before the U.S. Congress and the Administration," reads a quote from Jacob Coin, executive director of the National Indian Gaming Association.

Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., is quoted as saying "(Tom Rodgers) has demonstrated great skill in maneuvering my tax proposals through the legislative process (many of them were included in the Revenue Act of 1992). In fact, when the Tax Foundation honored me as Tax Policymaker of the Year in 1991, I considered it in large part a tribute to Tom's work."

There are plaudits from Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, and many others.

Mr. Rodgers earned his bachelor's, law and master's of law degrees from the University of Denver, holds a master of international public policy in Asian studies from the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University, attended the Georgetown University International Executive MBA Program and has also completed the Harvard Law School Program on Negotiation and the Georgetown University Executive International Business Program, according to his resume.

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