Daschle statement in opposition to Ross Swimmer
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Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D-South Dakota) released the following statement today on the nomination of Ross Swimmer as Special Trustee at the Department of Interior.

"For generations, residents of Indian Country have been victimized by persistent mismanagement of trust assets by the federal government. The Special Trustee for American Indians is responsible for directing the Department of the Interior's efforts to correct this longstanding management problem and provide sound fiduciary services to trust beneficiaries.

In recent weeks, leaders of South Dakota's nine Tribes have expressed to me their concerns about the Administration's desire to entrust Ross Swimmer with that critical responsibility. The bottom line is that trust beneficiaries deserve a Special Trustee in whom they can have confidence to restore sound accounting principles and integrity to the federal government's management of trust assets. Regrettably, I agree with South Dakota tribal leaders and the Great Plains Tribal Chairmen's Association that Ross Swimmer is not the right man for this job.

Ross Swimmer has had many responsibilities at the Department of the Interior. But, most significantly for this debate, over the past several years he has been an integral part of the Department's disappointing effort to impose a trust management solution conceived by federal bureaucrats without the full engagement and consent of Native American leadership. It is time to make sure that trust beneficiaries receive the assets to which they are entitled, not to allow the bureaucracy to “run out the clock” in the hope that the courts will save the day by absolving the government of its trust responsibility.

To provide some perspective, the 16 tribes of the Great Plains in South Dakota, North Dakota and Nebraska comprise 10 million acres of trust lands representing over one-third of the tribal trust assets. They have huge interests at stake in who will fill this key leadership position. I value and respect the judgment of South Dakota tribal people, their tribal leadership and the Great Plains Tribal Chairman's Association on this politically charged issue. Therefore, I cannot support Mr. Swimmer's nomination as Special Trustee for American Indians."

Relevant Documents:
Written Witness Testimony (2/12)

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

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