Elizabeth Warren’s about-face on Indian gaming

That Fauxahontas thing isn’t Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s only Indian controversy. There’s also the fact that Warren, in a reversal of position, has been backing an Indian gaming bill tied to special interests. As we shall see, the two may be related.

The Free Beacon reports:

Democratic senator Elizabeth Warren is backing legislation that would heavily benefit a foreign gambling conglomerate and a string of special interests, despite pledging to end public corruption in Washington.

Warren. . .introduced the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe Reservation Reaffirmation Act in March of this year along with the rest of the Massachusetts congressional delegation. The act aims to circumvent legal obstacles currently thwarting the Mashpee Wampanoag’s attempts to establish a casino.

Here, perhaps, is the most interesting aspect of the story:

The senator, who has been dogged by controversy surrounding her claims of Native American heritage, has embraced Mashpee Wampanoag’s cause as her own. The embrace has been especially surprising considering Warren, until recently, was hostile to legalized gambling.

As a candidate for the Senate in 2011, Warren strongly opposed successful efforts to expand casino-style gambling in Massachusetts. In 2014, she backed an unsuccessful ballot initiative to repeal the expansion on economic grounds.

(Emphasis added)

In other words, Warren was against casino gambling in Massachusetts before she was for it.

Why the about-face? One possibility is that Warren was swayed by the rich, high-power interests behind the Indian gaming legislation:

[T]he tribe has partnered with the Genting Group, a Malaysian gambling giant, to open a casino on 150 acres of land in Taunton, Mass. . . .The majority of the risk is held by Genting, which has already sunk $249.5 million into what is estimated to be a $1 billion dollar project. . . .

Genting has hired Gavel Resources, a Washington, D.C., government relations firm, through its law firm, Dentons, to lobby in favor of the casino, as denoted by disclosure forms. Gavel’s lobbying team, headed by former House Natural Resources Committee chairman Richard Pombo (R.), was actively pursuing the matter in front of Congress as Warren introduced her legislation. . . .

Since the start of this election cycle, Dentons’s PAC has donated approximately $40,000 to individuals, Democrats and Republicans alike, supporting the legislation.

According to the Free Beacon, “financial campaign records indicate that Warren has not accepted any donations from Dentons since introducing the legislation.” However, she might not be averse to accepting their backing once her presidential campaign gets off the ground — if it does.

Keep in mind, too, that Warren holds herself out as the arch-enemy of lobbying. She has proposed sweeping restrictions on lobbying, including banning lobbyists from donating to political candidates, boosting transparency laws, and cracking down on financial conflicts of interests. Yet, the heavy lobbying by Genting on behalf of a casino for the Mashpee Wampanoag seems to bother Warren not a bit.

Another explanation for Warren’s about-face is that the left-wing Senator, who has upset at least some Indian tribes by claiming to be a Native American, is trying to get on the good side of the Indian establishment for political reasons. The Free Beacon notes that earlier this year, before the National Congress of American Indians, Warren promised tribal leaders she would fight against “our country’s mistreatment of your communities.” It was shortly after making this promise that Warren sponsored the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe Reservation Reaffirmation Act.

In short, there’s a good chance that, as Red State’s Dan Spencer puts it, getting the Wampanoag a casino is a major component of Warren’s campaign to mitigate her “fake Indian” problem as she prepares to run for the Presidency in 2020.

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