Meskwaki Tribe, Iowa

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The U.S. 8th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the decision of a lower court to throw out a federal lawsuit filed by the consulting firm of former gubernatorial candidate Lowell Junkins against the tribe. The appeals panel voted 2-1 to uphold a decision to dismiss the case for lack of federal jurisdiction. Junkins' firm, Iowa Management & Consultants Inc., was "suspended'' by the tribe Nov. 18, 1997, after a one-year consulting association that cost the tribe a monthly fee of $150,000. The tribe runs a casino and hotel near Tama. Iowa Management contended the tribe breached the contract and claimed it was owed $6.6 million for the balance of the contract. The judge ruled that Iowa Management could not base federal jurisdiction on the tribe's anticipated defense that the contract required the approval of the National Indian Gaming Commission, which the commission never gave. The court majority held that the dispute was a routine contract matter where federal courts have no jurisdiction and that the tribe's anticipated defense did not give such jurisdiction. Junkins has been a lobbyist in recent years, was once Senate majority leader and was once the Democratic candidate opposing former Republican Gov. Terry Branstad.