Skip to main content

Influence-Peddling Charges Fly Again


Roger Stone talks of role in Wayne Smith firing

NEW YORK - Tales of high-priced casino lobbyists and partisan intrigue at
the BIA are burning up the Internet again, as a liberal investigative
journalist for New York's Village Voice and veteran Republican operative
Roger Stone go at each other in a bitter and somewhat revealing mano a

Star Voice reporter Wayne Barrett has written four recent articles on
Stone, with a fifth on the way, that have portrayed the campaign consultant
as "the dark force of Indian gaming, retained as a hidden consultant by
tribes and developers across the country." Barrett's most recent pieces
focus on Stone's alleged influence at the BIA and his role in the scandal
that forced out the number two man there, Wayne Smith, nearly two years

Stone in his turn is attacking Barrett's journalistic ethics on a Web site, Stone calls Barrett an obsessed "conspiracy
theorist" whose "omissions, inaccuracies, misstatements and fabrications"
are "too numerous to mention," although he proceeds to discuss a number of

The main story line centers on the dispute over leadership of the Buena
Vista Rancheria Miwok tribe near Sacramento, Calif., and was extensively
reported in Indian Country Today two years ago. At the time Wayne Smith,
then the embattled Deputy Assistant Secretary of Interior - Indian Affairs,
and the operational chief at BIA for recognition and casino affairs, told
ICT that a campaign to drive him from office was orchestrated by financial
backers of the losing side in a BIA ruling. (The ousted chief Donna Marie
Potts had backed a deal with Cascade Entertainment for a $150 million
casino project.)

A packet of documents leaked to several publications, including this one,
and broken in TIME Magazine, purported to show that Smith was steering
tribes to a former business partner. Although the partner wrote several
letters boasting of his influence at BIA, Smith said he had nothing to do
with it and he has never been charged with wrongdoing. But even before
Interior's Inspector General had completed an investigation of the
accusations, the White House ordered Smith fired in late May.

In the most recent article on April 28, Barrett largely recovers this
ground, with additional input from Smith. (In a personal phone call to this
writer, Barrett said he relied heavily on the ICT reporting and apologized
for not crediting it.) Stone retraces it too, in a second Internet rebuttal
posted on the morning of April 29. (Stone agreed to an interview with ICT,
but had not called back before press time.)

The one new insight in the dispute is that Stone openly admitted providing
the documents that forced Smith from office. In his first Web posting and
in his ad, he said, "Stone acknowledges turning over information regarding
a corrupt BIA official whose associate attempted to extort tribes to
Federal Investigators and members of the media. The official was fired
after a full Inspector General's investigation, not a TIME Magazine story
as reported by Barrett."

When ICT first published this information two years ago, Stone's lawyer
sent two letters to this publication vehemently denying it and demanding a

Stone also raised the issue of the Inspector General's report. Although
Smith maintains it was unfinished when he left, and in fact, hired a
seasoned Washington attorney, Nancy Luque, to protect himself in the
investigation, the report was since completed but never released. In a
press release April 29, Stone called for its public release.

In his rebuttals, Stone portrays himself as "one of the Nation's leading
advocates of tribal sovereignty and Native American economic development."

He wrote, "Roger Stone understands that Native Americans have had their
land stolen, have been slaughtered, driven across the country under
unbearable conditions like cattle and have been swindled and lied to
repeatedly by the U.S. Government. He will never apologize for working with
tribes to promote tribal sovereignty and economic self-sufficiency." In a
subsequent press release, Stone also said, "Barrett doesn't understand
Indian country and got it wrong time and time again."

Stone also acknowledged his role in an earlier controversy, in which he
prepared a series of ads for Atlantic City casino mogul Donald Trump that
tried to forestall a New York state gaming compact with the St. Regis
(Akwesasne) Mohawks for a casino in the Catskills that would have competed
with Trump's financially troubled interests. The ads accused the St. Regis
Mohawks of a variety of illegal activities, without mentioning that the
tribal government was instrumental in breaking them up. A tribal spokesman
called the ads, issued under the name of the New York Institute for Law and
Society, a "racist" attack.

Because of the ads, Stone's company Ikon Holdings paid the New York State
Temporary Commission on Lobbying a settlement of $100,000 for its alleged
violation of state lobbying laws, part of a larger assessment of $250,000
also against Trump and the nominal ad signatory.

Barrett for his part shares the focus of the mainstream press on casino
deals and political influence, at the expense of a broader recognition of
Indian country issues. His latest article depicts the BIA as "a
bureaucratic land where the only chiefs are buttoned-down lobbyists, raking
in millions from tribes whose casinos are virtually franchises to print
influence-peddling largesse." He quotes Smith as saying that a Republican
lobbyist complained to him that Democrats had the run of the BIA and that
now it was "our turn." (The lobbyist, Scott Reed, denies the statement.)

Barrett lists the elevation of Aurene Martin, formerly acting Assistant
Secretary and now deputy, as evidence of Republican infiltration. Martin
was formerly an aide to U.S. Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell, R.-Colo.,
chairman of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee. He also cites the
selection of Cloyce Choney as commissioner of the National Indian Gaming
Commission, which Stone himself called a "breath-taking achievement."

Referring to a separate investigation involving lobbyists associated with
Jack Abramoff, Barrett lists a series of contacts that Smith received from
Republican figures, including Diane Allbaugh, wife of Joe Allbaugh, head of
the Federal Emergency Management Agency and a leader of the George W. Bush
presidential campaign, and Jennifer Calvert, wife of the Interior
Department's then deputy director of Congressional affairs. Barrett also
repeats Smith's charge that he was fired because he was complaining about
interference from presidential aide Jennifer Farley, who described herself
at the recent convention of the National Congress of American Indians as
the main White House tribal liaison.

Barrett's concern with Stone predated his digging into Indian country,
however. The first two articles in the Voice series described Stone's
prominent role in the Democratic presidential campaign of the controversial
New York activist, the Rev. Al Sharpton.