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Upstate Citizens for Equality calls for Congressional investigation into the handling of the illegal gambling at Turning Stone by the U.S. Department of Interior and the National Indian Gaming Commission.

Please spread the word that those who disagree with the current situation on Turning Stone should request a Congressional investigation into it. Below is a press release and letter that was sent requesting one that can be used as a guide to others writing their own request. Those wishing to make the request online can do so at:

http://capwiz.com/congressorg/sbx/f/?aid=9948206&r=1

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Daniel Warren (d.warren@upstate-citizens.org)

Upstate Citizens for Equality (UCE, http://www.upstate-citizens.org ), a grass roots organization of taxpayers in upstate New York, calls for Congressional investigation into the handling of the illegal gambling at Turning Stone by the U.S. Department of Interior and the National Indian Gaming Commission. Below is the text of the letter dated June 19, 2007 sent to the Chairmen of the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Natural Resources and the U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs.

June 19, 2007

Hon. Nick J. Rahall, II
Chairman
U.S. House of Representatives
Committee on Natural Resources
1329 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

Hon. Byron L. Dorgan
Chairman
Committee on Indian Affairs
United States Senate
838 Hart Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Chairman Rahall and Chairman Dorgan,

I am writing to you to request that you initiate an investigation into why the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Department of the Interior is failing to address the illegal gambling being conducted at the Turning Stone Casino. The failure to address this blatant illegal gambling operation must either be due to a gross dereliction of duty or malfeasance and the failure to act on it brings into question whether the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the National Indian Gaming Commission are really necessary. While these federal agencies are charged with carrying out various aspects of the United States' trust responsibility towards Indian nations and tribes they must also comply with their constitutional duty to all United States Citizens and as part of the Executive Branch they are responsible for seeing that the laws of this nation are faithfully carried out.

The tribal-state compact that this casino was purportedly operating under was declared invalid by the New York Courts in Upstate Citizens for Equality, Peterman, et al v. Pataki, et al., 4 Misc. 3d 1028A and was affirmed by the Appellate Division, Fourth Department of the New York Supreme Court (21 A.D.3d 1387) and the New York Court of Appeals denied leave to appeal (6 N.Y.3d 713) and the Oneida Indian Nation's petition to the U.S. Supreme Court was denied (127 S. Ct. 730).

Furthermore, the land upon which Turning Stone is situated on is not Indian land. There is currently a pending application to have the land upon which it is situated taken into trust, but that does not make it Indian land while such application is pending.

In the wake of these issues the U.S. Department of the Interior reconsidered its approval of Turning Stone's compact ( see http://www.upstate-citizens.org/DOI-Letter-to-Spitzer-Halbritter.pdf ). UCE's attorney submitted a letter outlining our position that there was nothing to consider and that the appropriate federal and state officials need to act on this illegal operation (see http://www.upstate-citizens.org/UCE-DOI-Letter-032107.pdf ). However, the U.S. Department of the Interior took a blind eye towards this blatant illegality and in the end took no action. This is hardly considered seeing that the laws they are charged with are faithfully executed.

It is well settled that the issue of whether or not a State has entered into a compact under IGRA is determined by state law and the DOI cannot make an invalid compact valid by administrative fiat. In 1995 the New Mexico Supreme Court determined that its governor lacked the authority to enter into a compact under IGRA in the absence of legislative authorization (this is the identical issue decided by the New York courts in Peterman v. Pataki). The United States District Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit held that "that the Governor's lack of authority was fatal to the compacts' validity under IGRA" in Jicarilla Apache Tribe v. Kelly, 129 F.3d 535. In Pueblo of Santa Ana v. Kelly, 104 F.3d 1546 the Tenth Circuit held that "[w]hile preservation of tribal sovereignty was clearly of great concern to Congress, respect for state interests relating to class III gaming was also of great concern. We are hesitant to conclude that Congress intended to permit a state to be bound by a compact regulating class III gaming which it never validly entered."

This decision by the United States Department of the Interior regarding its approval of the tribal-state compact between the Oneida Indian Nation of New York and the State of New York demonstrates that it has abdicated its role as charged by Congress and its role regarding Indian issues should be abolished or severely restricted. Richard Blumenthal, Connecticut Attorney General, in commenting on the Bureau of Indian Affairs in March, 2004 stated that “this rogue agency, out of control, lawless, ready to twist and distort logic and law in reaching a result driven by money and politics.” This is the case in its most recent action. This criticism is not only from those outside the agency, Earl Devaney the Inspector General for the U.S. Department of the Interior testified before Congress recently that “Short of a crime, anything goes at the highest levels of the Department of the Interior.” That could explain why common sense and adherence to the law doesn't seem to matter.

I respectfully request that the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs and the House Committee on Natural Resources investigate this matter and take appropriate action to reign in these rogue agencies.

Sincerely,

Daniel T. Warren
Chairman
Niagara Frontier Chapter of Upstate Citizens for Equality

Cc: Hon. Maurice D. Hinchey (Via Fax: 202-226-0774)
Hon. Hillary Rodham Clinton (Via Fax: 202-228-0282)
Hon. Charles Schumer (Via Fax: 202-228-3027


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