Cason's authority over Indian affairs questioned
Jim Cason is the associate deputy secretary at the Interior Department. He was not nominated by the president nor was he confirmed by the Senate.

But ever since Dave Anderson resigned as head of the Bureau of Indian Affairs two years ago this month, Cason has had a lot on his plate. He's been making all the BIA's decisions even though he was not officially appointed as assistant secretary for Indian Affairs in either a permanent or "acting" capacity.

That has the Schaghticoke Tribal Nation of Connecticut questioning Cason's authority. As part of its ongoing lawsuit, the tribe says Cason violated federal law by signing the decision against federal recognition for the tribe.

Cason's status has been questioned in the past. In October 2002, the Government Accountability Office concluded he was merely an "employee" -- albeit one with super powers.

Before she left office, former Interior Secretary Gale Norton delegated all of the BIA's duties to Cason. In doing so, the Bush administration avoided a potential violation of the Vacacies Reform Act, which applies to persons who have been in appointed "acting" capacities.

Get the Story:
Schaghticoke challenges Cason's legal authority (Indian Country Today 2/2)

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Relevant Links:
Schaghticoke Tribal Nation - http://www.schaghticoke.com
Interior Board of Indian Appeals Decisions - http://www.ibiadecisions.com

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