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NIGA issues statement on tribal lobbying scandal

More than a year after first being disclosed, the National Indian Gaming Association [Web Site] on Tuesday issued a statement about the Jack Abramoff tribal lobbying scandal.

NIGA, the largest tribal casino organization, has largely been silent on the controversy. Six wealthy gaming tribes spent upwards of $82 million on Abramoff and his partner Michael Scanlon, according to a Senate Indian Affairs Committee investigation.

NIGA says tribes have a right to hire "consultants and lawyers" to lobby on their behalf. In 2004, the organization spent more than $800,000 on lobbyists, according to records filed with the U.S. Senate.

"All parties involved in these relationships expect the highest level of representation, respect and due diligence from their attorneys and consultants. Representation of the government is a public trust and lawyers and lobbyist should be held to the highest standards of conduct. If a lawyer or lobbyist violates that trust and commits a crime in the course of representation then there is a legal framework in place to protect the client," said NIGA Chairman Ernest L. Stevens Jr. in the statement.

A federal grand jury is investigating Abramoff and Scanlon for their dealings with tribes. NIGA supports the prosecution of any wrongdoing, Stevens said.

"We have confidence that the United States will fulfill its trust responsibilities and investigate any allegations or charges of wrongdoing and prosecute the offenders to the fullest extent of the law. We believe it is important for both Indian tribes and the rest of America to be protected from fraudulent practices and we fully support the federal government's investigation and prosecution of these acts," he said.

The Senate committee is holding its third hearing today on the subject.

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The National Indian Gaming Association Addresses the Abramoff Investigation (NIGA 6/21)
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