Why Are Tribes Contributing Heavily to Supreme Court Races?
September 10, 2006
Press Release from BIAW
OLYMPIA, WA - While BIAW has come under attack for spending too much money to support Washington Supreme Court Justice candidates John Groen and Steve Johnson, the most recent report filed with the state Public Disclosure Commission (PDC) clearly shows BIAW is not the only group spending a lot of money to support its endorsed candidates.
The Tulalip and Puyallup Indian Tribes have recently contributed $100,000 and $50,000, respectively, to FairPAC, a consortium of trial attorney and labor union groups which is raising money to support Justices Gerry Alexander and Susan Owens.
Why two tribes are spending this much money on a state supreme court race is perplexing, said BIAW spokesperson Erin Shannon. Aren't tribes a sovereign nation? Why are they spending so much money to shape a court they claim has no jurisdiction over their sovereignty--each tribe has its own court and any cases pertaining to tribal conflicts with the state or federal government go before federal courts, said Shannon.
Perhaps the connection is Governor Gregoire. Since announcing in late July her intent to fundraise on behalf of Justices Alexander and Owens, Gregoire has raised more than $250,000 to support her incumbent candidates. Washington States Indian tribes have several hot issues with Gregoire, including sales tax collection, slot machines, OTB, etc. Someone should ask the tribal leaders what kind of deal they cut with Gregoire, said Shannon.
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