BIA deputy recused on recognition
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Assistant Secretary Neal McCaleb's top aide has recused himself from the Chinook Nation's recognition case, TIME magazine reports in its current issue.

Wayne Smith is also planning to recuse himself from matters dealing with the Buena Vista Miwok Tribe of California. The Miwok tribe is also seeking recognition.

"I want to be above the appearance of impropriety," Smith told the magazine.

The reason for the recusal, TIME reports, is that a close friend of Smith has contacted officials and representatives of both tribes. Claiming the friendship could guarantee "tremendous access and influence," Phil Bersinger told the Chinooks he would lobby their cause for $1,000 a month.

He also approached the California Valley Miwok Tribe, which is federally recognized, and offered a $5,000 a month contract. "It was a shakedown," a tribal official told TIME.

Smith, however, denies discussing official BIA matters with Bersinger, according to TIME. But Bersinger happened to sit in on a meeting regarding the Buena Vista Miwoks, he acknowledged.

Bersinger and Smith worked together at the California Department of Justice on gaming issues.

Get the Story:
The Man to See On Indian Affairs? (TIME April 22)

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