Campbell asked to delay vote on Ross Swimmer
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Some members of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee are holding up the nomination of Ross Swimmer as Special Trustee due to concerns raised by tribal leaders.

Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell (R-Colo.), committee chairman, wants to hold a vote today to advance Swimmer to the Senate floor. But Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said the former assistant secretary should address concerns about his past involvement in trust matters.

"One of the president's prerogatives is to appoint people that he wants to his administration," McCain told the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) yesterday. "In this particular case," he continued, "there are serious questions that have been raised about Mr. Swimmer that at least have to be answered."

A day earlier, Sen. Tim Johnson (D-S.D.) echoed a similar view. He said tribes in South Dakota are troubled by Swimmer's nomination to oversee billions of dollars in Indian funds.

Citing letters of support and opposition, Campbell asked Simmer at his confirmation hearing on February 12 to answer follow-up questions in writing. Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii), the panel's vice-chairman, and other members also submitted questions.

According to McCain, Swimmer hasn't responded. "I have asked Sen. Campbell not to mark up his nomination until at least we get some answers back," he said.

Some tribes point to Swimmer's tenure as head of the Bureau of Indian Affairs during the last three years of the Reagan administration. They have cited his failure to consult on the future of trust activities and his attempts to limit the federal government's oversight of the trust.

The Navajo Nation, in particular, noted Swimmer's failure to review a lease for trust assets that cost the tribe $600 million.

McCain yesterday called the government's handling of the trust an "incredible failure." "If this scandal affected any other group of Americans, it would be on the front page of every newspaper in America every day," he said. "But it seems to be OK to misuse the funds of Native Americans in a way that would be unacceptable in any other part of American society. I have never understood it."

"We're writing another shameful chapter in American history," he added, "because those funds belong to you."

Relevant Documents:
Written Witness Testimony (2/12)

Relevant Links:
Office of Special Trustee -
Indian Trust: Cobell v. Norton -

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