Hard-hitting investigative reporter Susan Bradford has an expose on Aurene Martin, who had connections to Jack Abramoff, IETAN Consulting, and with our government. In an era of tribal disenrollment she had her hand in a lot of backroom dealings, but then, isn't that the "Washington Way"?
Aurene Martin and the wife of Pechanga Chairman Mark Macarro, Holly Cook Macarro, left Holland and Knight to go to IETAN. Holly Macarro took Pechanga's business with her, although this was not approved by the Pechanga General Membership and made Mark Macarro the subject of a recall attempt. Mark Macarro benefitted from this change as the husband, in addition to his per capita check (which grew after the disenrollment of two families) and his pay as tribal chairman, which was over $100,000 per year.
Susan Bradford says:
Former Acting Assistant Secretary of Interior Aurene Martin has had her fair share of controversies, but she has deftly, and without principle, used her status as an insider to maneuver around them.
Prior to her appointment at Interior, Martin was a congressional aide to Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell, the Chairman of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee where Senator John McCain convened hearings to investigate Republican super-lobbyist Jack Abramoff’s tribal lobbying.
While McCain was dressing down Deputy Secretary of Interior Steven Griles over any actions he might have taken within a public capacity on behalf of Abramoff, the Committee ignored another questionable relationship, which was written up in the Village Voice: that of former McCain presidential campaign worker and tribal lobbyist, Scott Reed, who was aggressively lobbying Martin and sabotaging professional rivals within the agency who did not kowtow to his demands on behalf of clients.
The function of the Interior Dept under Martin seemed to be to keep some tribes from getting casinos, which would help their economies, yet support other tribes. Is that what we expect from our government?
Another tribe has also come forward to cry foul: the Muweka Ohlone Tribe, which has sued Martin for rejecting its petition to acquire federal recognition, describing her decision as “arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, (and) not in accordance with the law.”
Independent of the merits of the case, what makes Martin’s decision suspect is that within weeks of entering private practice as a Partner in the Indian law group of Holland & Knight, she was lobbying the Department of Interior on behalf of a Lower Lake Rancheria, a landless tribe seeking to build a casino in Oakland, California.
Amazed at her enterprise, her new employer issued this public statement: “Even by Washington standards, Aurene Martin’s spin through the revolving door was a quick one…Ethics laws ban senior-level government officials from directly lobbying their former agencies for one year. But Martin benefited from a special exemption: Since the 1970s, ex-(Bureau of Indian Affairs) officials have been able to represent tribes before their former agency without waiting out the one-year cooling-off period….There are ethical controls in place aimed at restricting the ability of those officials to lobby their former agencies on behalf of industries and special interests. But Martin’s move is one of many examples of ways around those controls.”
By refusing to grant federal recognition to the Ohlone while employed at the Department of Interior, Martin ensured this tribe would not have the legal standing to acquire a casino. Subsequently and perhaps predictably, the Lower Lake Rancheria announced its plan to pursue gaming in Oakland on lands sacred to the Ohlones.
Read more of Susan Bradford’s expose