Agua Caliente will not appeal

See the article below regarding Agua Caliente’s decision not to appeal its case to the Supreme Court.

Indian tribe settles with state on reporting political donations
By James P. Sweeney
Copley News Service

SACRAMENTO — Ending a five-year legal fight that threatened to punch a big hole in California’s political disclosure law, a Palm Springs Indian tribe has agreed to fully abide by the state’s campaign and lobbying rules.

In a settlement reached quietly with the state’s Fair Political Practices Commission, the Agua Caliente band also waived its sovereign immunity against prosecution for future violations of those rules.

And the tribe agreed not to appeal a Dec. 21 decision by the California Supreme Court, which concluded that the state’s need to protect its elections and political system trumped the tribe’s sovereign immunity from lawsuits. This means the Supreme Court ruling, reached on a 4-3 vote, stands.

“It is a big win for the state, a big win for the people and a big win for disclosure,” said Robert Stern, president of the Center for Governmental Studies and a co-author of California’s landmark Political Reform Act.

“This was a very important case because the tribes are so heavily invested now in campaigning in California,” Stern said. “If it had gone the other way, disclosure would have taken a huge hit.”
Agua Caliente Chairman Richard Milanovich said he was pleased with the settlement and happy to have the litigation behind him. He noted that three justices on a sharply divided state Supreme Court had agreed with the tribe.

“If we were to take this any further, say up to the U.S. Supreme Court, the makeup of the court today is such that it did not look very favorable,” Milanovich said.

A loss before the nation’s highest court would have had implications nationwide and would have opened another crack in tribal sovereignty.

“There are many tribal organizations and tribes that are going to be pleased that we took the action that we took because this would have had a blanket effect across the country,” Milanovich said. “So, was this the right case to try at the time? Probably not.”

The state sued in the summer of 2002, seeking to impose a more than $7.5 million fine against the tribe for failing to report some contributions and disclose others by the state’s deadlines. Nearly all of the state’s other tribes willingly comply with the political reporting law.

In the settlement, Agua Caliente agreed to pay the state $200,000. While the amount represents a small fraction of the original penalty sought, both Stern and Karen Getman, the former FPPC chairwoman who initiated the case, said it represents one of the largest fines the agency has ever collected.

“That’s a very big fine . . . but this case wasn’t about the money,” Getman said. “The issues were much bigger.”

As Indian casinos have grown into a nearly $8 billion industry in California, wealthy tribes have become political heavyweights that routinely give six-figure and occasionally multimillion-dollar contributions to candidates and campaigns.

Agua Caliente is one of the state’s biggest political donors, giving generously to candidates of both major political parties and even bankrolling a statewide ballot measure, the unsuccessful 2004 Indian gaming initiative, Proposition 70.

The state’s lawsuit alleged the tribe failed to report more than $8 million in campaign contributions within timelines designed to let the public know who is backing candidates and ballot measures.

Agua Caliente argued that it was reporting all the required information on its Web site. But state attorneys alleged that some contributions were not disclosed until long after the elections were held.

In one case, investigators said the tribe failed to report a six-figure contribution in 2002 to Proposition 51, which would have provided $15 million a year for transportation projects including a rail line from Los Angeles to the Palm Springs area, where Agua Caliente operates two casinos.

Nonetheless, the state’s case looked to be a legal long shot. It was almost impossible to overcome the legal shield provided by a tribe’s sovereign immunity, many warned Getman and her staff.
Then-Attorney General Bill Lockyer declined to represent the FPPC in the case, forcing the agency to hire private counsel. After the FPPC won an early round, Lockyer reconsidered and began filing briefs in support of the commission. But a private attorney — Charity Kenyon of Sacramento — remained the lead counsel.

“Everyone at the FPPC should feel more than a little vindicated,” Getman said yesterday. “It took a lot of hard work, a lot of guts. . . . It was a very important statement that the commission had to make.”

The issues in play could be kept alive by a parallel case pending against the Santa Rosa Tachi tribe of Lemoore, although that seems unlikely. The Santa Rosa litigation has been on hold pending the outcome of the Agua Caliente case.

Santa Rosa Chairman Clarence Atwell and the tribe’s attorney could not be reached to comment yesterday.

Kathryn Rand, a law professor and co-director of the Institute for the Study of Tribal Gaming Law and Policy at the University of North Dakota, said the case may illustrate a new relationship developing between states and tribes.

“On the face of it, the application of state law to a tribe is absolutely a slam dunk in favor of the tribe,” Rand said. “But given that the tribe has involved itself in state politics to the extent it has, it makes the issues a little trickier.

“I think we’re going to see more of that as Indian gaming continues to grow and remain controversial. We will see the usual rules of tribal-state interaction adapting to this new environment.”

Job – U of Idaho College of Law – Indian Law Faculty Position

Faculty Position – The University of Idaho College of Law
P.O. Box 442321 Moscow, ID 83844-2321 Ph: FAX:

The University of Idaho College of Law seeks to fill an entry-level, tenure-track faculty position beginning in the 2008 Fall semester in the area of Indian Law. The teaching package for the position will also include Civil Procedure. Teaching assignments could also include other courses in the area of Indian Law or courses relevant to the successful applicant’s Indian Law expertise and the needs of the College of Law. Applicants must have a JD from an ABA accredited college or the equivalent and should also have a distinguished academic record and post J.D. practice, clerking and/or teaching experience. We seek applicants who show promise as excellent teachers and productive scholars. Applications from individuals with a demonstrated commitment to Indian Law including scholarship in the area and/or significant experience working with tribes or with Indian people are encouraged. Situated in the beautiful Pacific Northwest, the University of Idaho is located in close physical proximity to the Coeur d’Alene and Nez Perce Indian Reservations and has working relationships with both tribes. The University is a comprehensive research institution that is enriched by its proximity to Washington State University. Interested persons should either apply online at or send a letter of application and resume listing three references by regular mail to Committee Chair, Faculty Appointments Committee, University of Idaho, College of Law, PO Box 442321, Moscow, Idaho 83844-2321. We will begin reviewing applications on September 15, 2007 and will consider applications until the until the position is filled. The University of Idaho is an affirmative action, equal opportunity employer. Applications from those who would increase faculty diversity at the College of Law, or with significant experience working with diverse populations, are encouraged. More information about the College of Law is available at

JOB – Nez Perce Tribe, Staff Attorney

Staff Attonrey

Nez Perce Tribe P.O. Box 365 Lapwai, ID 83540
Ph: (208) 843-7332

Staff Attorney HR-07-066 to provide legal counsel and representation to the Tribe. The Tribe is actively engaged in a number of initiatives to protect and advance tribal sovereignty. The Staff Attorney’s workload will be active and dynamic, involving legal and policy issues ranging from federal land management decisions affecting fish and wildlife, CERCLA site remediation, improved water quality advocacy, the Hells Canyon dam relicensing and miscellaneous real estate issues. The Staff Attorney will be part of a team that includes five attorneys and three support staff. There will also be frequent interaction with federal, state and tribal agencies. Requires a Juria Doctorate degree, and a minimum of one (1) year of legal practice. Must be licensed by a State Bar; Idaho Bar within one year. Experience with Indian Tribes is desired. Competitive salary. Requires a valid driver’s license with the ability to be insured under the Tribe’s Policy. (If your driver’s license is not issued from Idaho or Washington; a Motor Vehicle Report (MVR) from the state your driver’s license is issued, is required with your application). A complete application packet includes: a NPT application and resume to: Staff Attorney HR-07-066, P.O. Box 365, Lapwai, Idaho 83540 by 4:30, 7/13/07 (208) 843-7332. Tribal Preference applies. INCOMPLETE APPLICATION PACKETS WILL NOT BE CONSIDERED.

JOB: Navajo Nation Department of Justice Legal Services

Navajo Nation Department of Justice, Navajo-Hopi Legal Servi (Tuba City, AZ)
Title: Attorney(s)

Sponsored by the Navajo Nation Department of Justice, the Navajo-Hopi Legal Services Program assists Navajo and Hopi families affected by the Navajo-Hopi Settlement Act, Public Law, 93-531, 25 CFR ?700 et. seq. with public benefits advocacy and federal administrative law. Monthly hearings are held before the Office of Navajo and Hopi Indian Relocation, the independent federal agency charged with implementing the relocation program.Attorneys will interview clients, prepare cases, conduct research, write pleadings and appeals and participate in hearings before the Office of Navajo and Hopi Indian Relocation in Flagstaff. Appeals will be filed with the Federal District Court in Phoenix.The office is located on the Navajo Nation in Tuba City, Arizona, 80 miles north of Flagstaff. Rental housing may be available. Commonly referred to as the “Navajo-Hopi Land Dispute,” Congress ordered several thousand Navajo and Hopi families to leave their customary use areas in 1974. The effects of this relocation have been many and far-reaching. This work is unique and rewarding, with immediate impacts upon the lives of clients and their families.Experience: Graduate,Current Bar Members,Taking Next Bar,Bar Passage

Submit: Resume,Cover Letter,Transcript,Writing Sample, 3 References
SubmitOther: Navajo Nation employment application (download at; copies of degrees awarded and transcripts of both undergraduate and law school grades. For more information, please contact Ms. Snow at 928-283-3300. Two positions are available.Applications will be evaluated under the Navajo Preference in Employment Act.

SendBy: Mail
Geographic Preference: Southwest (AZ, NM)

Practice Area(s): Government, Native American

Desired Class Level(s): 3L, JD Alum, Alum 0-3 yrs exp, Bar Passage, Pending Bar Passage

Compensation Type: Salary

Compensation Details: Salary: $51,771.20Hours: Monday – Friday, 8:00 am – 5:00 pm; 40 plus

How To Apply Submit by Mail only Download Navajo Nation employment application at
Requested Documents: Resume, Writing Sample, Transcript, Cover Letter, Other

Note: Include copies of degrees awarded and transcripts of both undergraduate and law school grades, and application form from our website.

Applications Accepted Until:Sep 28, 2007

All candidates should apply immediately. This date is not necessarily the deadline date, as resumes are more than likely reviewed as they come in and interviews scheduled as soon after the posting date as possible. You should not wait until the expiration date to submit your materials, as you may be depriving yourself of an employment opportunity.

Contact Information

Navajo Nation Department of Justice, Navajo-Hopi Legal Servi (Tuba City, AZ)
Ms. Betsy Lynn Snow
Principal Attorney
Phone: (928) 283-3300
Fax: (928) 283-3314
Address: PO Box 2990Tuba City, AZ86045