New York City mayor sues Indian smokeshops

New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg announced a lawsuit against Indian smokeshops doing business on the Unkechaug Indian Nation, a state-recognized tribe.

Bloomberg claimed the smokeshops are cheating the state out of $525 million in tax revenues. He called on Gov. David Paterson (D) to send state police to the 50-acre Poospatuck Reservation on Long Island and force them to collect state taxes.

Harry Wallace, the tribe's chief, accused Bloomberg of grandstanding and unfairly linking the issue to national economic woes. "This debate has reached fanatical levels, where we are being scapegoated from everything from the fiscal crisis in New York to the mortgage crisis. I assume that at some point we’ll be blamed for global warming," Wallace told The New York Times.

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that states can collect taxes on the sale of tobacco to non-Indians. But tribes are immune from lawsuits and New York hasn't been able to negotiate a compact like other states.

Get the Story:
Reservation’s Cigarette Stores Are Sued (The New York Times 9/30)
NYC Demands Governor Collect Tribal Cigarette Taxes (Reuters 9/29)

Relevant Documents:
Press Release | Video

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