Wayne Smith fired at start of internal investigation

Former Bureau of Indian Affairs deputy Wayne Smith was fired just as an internal investigation into alleged influence-peddling was beginning, the Village Voice reports.

The Department of Interior's inspector general completed the probe in August 2002, according to the Voice, but has not released a report. Smith wants it made public.

Smith was fired over letters a former business partner wrote that traded on their relationship. The former partner, Phil Bersinger, asked at least three tribes with decisions pending before Smith for a high fee. At the BIA, Smith oversaw gaming, federal recognition and land-into-trust issues.

GOP operative Roger Stone takes credit for orchestrating Stone's downfall. He provided Bersinger's solicitation letters Bersinger to the media. But the first letter was drafted the day after Smith had made a decision against one of Stone's clients, according to the Voice. [Ed. Note: Copies were given to Indianz.Com shortly after a Monteau & Peebles attorney asked for our fax number. The firm represented Stone's client in an internal tribal leadership dispute that determined a casino development, according to the Voice.]

Stone told the Voice the solicitation were "the most naked attempt at extortion I've ever seen." He also says Smith and Bersinger " were running a scam operation." But former assistant secretary Neal McCaleb told the Voice hd didn't think Smith had broken any laws.

In an e-mail to Indianz.Com last week, a person claiming to be Roger Stone said, "If Wayne Smith was innocent whay [sic] was he fired after a full investigation by the Inspector General?" The e-mail did not disclose that the investigation, according to the Voice, had just begun when Smith was ousted.

Get the Story:
Inside Bush's Indian Bureau (Village Voice 4/27)

Relevant Links:
The Truth about Roger Stone - http://www.thetruthaboutstone.com

Related Stories:
GOP operative admits hatchet job on Wayne Smith (4/22)