PRETTY RECKLESS IS GOING STRAIGHT TO HELL
Mark Ames was kind enough to link to this piece in his thorough, and properly acerbic, overview of the association between Roger Stone and Donald Trump, “Behind the scenes of the Donald Trump – Roger Stone show”, and for that we are grateful.
THE WELL DRESSED MAN PART FIVE: LICENSE TO ILL / THE INSIDE MAN
If you’re going to write about Roger Stone, you have to give mention to his most prominent longtime client, Donald Trump. “The Ego Behind the Ego in a Trump Gamble,” by Jan Hoffman, written when Trump made a half-hearted attempt to lead the Reform party for the 2000 election, would point out the shared traits of the two men. A thin skin. Enormous egos. An aversion to shake hands; on the part of Trump, it’s due to an aversion to germs, while Stone avoids it out of an aversion to suffering fools. In 1999, Trump had been Stone’s client for nineteen years, longer than either of their first marriages, or Trump’s second marriage to Marla Maples, the woman who’d broken up his first marriage. It was after attending Stone’s wedding to Nydia Bertran in Las Vegas, that Trump provided one of the endless moments of crass hysteria that make up his life. “I’ll never marry you,” Maples would shout to the pretend billionaire. “I don’t care how much money you make,” she said before flinging a seven karat ring at Trump. They had just done a limo tour of Vegas monuments and watched a Maples appearance on something called “P.S.I. Love You” (the episode “Where There’s a Will, There’s a Dani”). With someone like Trump, you couldn’t help but wonder if they’d had an actual argument, or if it was all to demonstrate that Trump could still buy a seven karat ring. Two years later they were married. Eight years later, when Trump was once again announcing that he was thinking about running for president, they were divorced103.
The point of interest in Stone’s association with Trump was not Trump himself, but the area in which Stone always worked as a lobbyist for Trump, and that was gambling. Though fascinating, this is a subject barely touched on by either the Labash or Toobin profiles. Toobin: “He developed a specialty in ballot initiatives, especially about gaming,” and that’s all. Labash manages to bring up one of the more inflammatory moments in Stone’s career, while at the same time, consciously or unconsciously, to muffle it, making it part of a larger point on how Stone’s actions are moved more by revenge than self-interest:
For instance, after Trump, [this would be his gig consulting for Donald Trump during his try for the Reform Party ticket] he went on to advise the gubernatorial campaign of New York billionaire Tom Golisano. It can be regarded as a revenge fantasy against George Pataki who Stone considers a counterfeit conservative, and whose lobbying commission dinged Stone and Trump for a $250,000 settlement–Trump paid–the largest in state history, for not filing lobbying reports about radio ads attacking the expansion of Indian casino interests. It chafes Stone to this day. He is adamant that the settlement contained no admission of wrongdoing, and says it wasn’t his call, joking that Trump settled because “he’s a pussy.”
Labash, more than a little negligently, does not go into detail about the advertising which provoked the fine, and thereby settles for the usual Roger Stone “colorful drama” rather than the heart of the matter. Trump is a man who makes part of his money through casinos, which puts him in conflict with indian tribes, whose casinos are often in competition with those of any that Trump might want to build, and this conflict between Indian gaming interests and non-Indian gaming interests is one of the more fascinating, and almost entirely unreported, conflicts of the past twenty years.
In 2000, the St. Regis Mohawks of the Catskills, New York, had signed a contract with Park Place Entertainment to build a casino on their territory. A state bill approving the contract was going through the legislature with intensive lobbying on both sides. An excerpt from Enduring Legacies: Native American Treaties and Contemporary Controversies, edited by Bruce Elliott Johansen, gives a good sense of what happened next:
During the lobbying efforts, an advertising campaign accused the St. Regis Mohawks (at Akwesasne) of drug smuggling, money laundering, trafficking in illegal immigrants, and violence. The advertising campaign was conducted under the aegis of the New York Institute for Law and Society. The text of the advertising campaign read, in part: “Are these [St. Regis Mohawks] the kind of neighbors we want? The St. Regis Mohawk record of criminal activity is well documented”
It would soon be discovered that Trump had funneled a hundred and fifty thousand dollars into the previously unknown Institute. A casino in New York state would be competition for Trump’s casinos in Atlantic City, New Jersey. The Institute was headed by a self-described conservative activist, Tom Hunter. Messages left by the New York Post at the Institute’s phone number went unreturned, though a “Joe Smith” who answered the phone said he’d given Hunter the messages. The Institute had been incorporated in Virginia earlier in the year by a man named J. Curtis Herge. Herge had represented Stone affiliated organizations in the past104. Herge had met Stone when he was on CREEP, and he shows up briefly in Stone’s memoir: “In 1972 I was assigned to work for J. Curtis Herge, an affable and capable attorney from Nixon, Mudge, Rose, Gutherie and Alexander, Nixon’s starchy Wall Street firm. Herge had done advance work for Nixon in 1968 and 1970.”105 The New York Daily News would report that Roger Stone had developed the Institute’s ads. When you spend over $2000 to lobby legislation, you must register as a lobbyist, which Trump would have to do, if he spent one hundred and fifty thousand dollars on an anti-gambling group. Trump had not registered. He would pay a fine of a quarter of a million dollars to avoid a public hearing. He would publish the following apology as well: “Donald Trump, Roger Stone, Thomas Hunter, on behalf of Trump Hotels and Casino Resorts, Ikon Public Affairs and the New York Institute for Law and Society, respectfully apologize if anyone was misled concerning the production and funding of the lobbying effort.”106 Ikon Public Affairs was the lobbying group founded by Roger Stone after he left BMS&K. It might be asked, if Roger Stone believes this settlement contained no admission of wrongdoing and that it wasn’t his call, why is there an ad that respectfully apologizes for giving offense, and why is Roger Stone’s name on the apology?
Trump already had a controversial and very visible argument with native tribes, and it was about casinos then as well. In December 1993, Trump would testify before Congress on issues related to Indian gaming. “I had a long and boring speech,” he said, “it was politically correct and something that would have gotten me into no trouble whatsoever,” he said, discarding his seven page prepared speech and indulging the world with his remarks. Look, he said, “nobody likes Indians as much as Donald Trump,” but Indian casinos are being infiltrated by gangsters. “There is no way Indians are going to protect themselves from the mob,” he warned. “This is gonna blow.” Yes, he had more to say. “It will be the biggest scandal ever,” Trump went on, “the biggest since Al Capone…An Indian chief is going to tell Joey Killer to please get off his reservation? It’s unbelievable to me.” Finally: “Connecticut is a total disaster over Indian gaming.” His main issue was the massive Foxwoods casino in Connecticut, owned by the Mashantucket Pequots. “They don’t look like Indians to me,” said Trump, of the Pequots. “They don’t look like Indians to Indians.” What, someone asked, do Indians look like? “You know,” he said. “You know.” His appearance was well-received. “In my 19 years here, I don’t know that I’ve heard more irresponsible testimony,” said George Miller, head of the committee conducting the hearing. “Free speech reigns,” Neil Abercrombie, Democratic congressman of Hawaii, would sigh, “no matter how idiotic.” The Pequots were represented by lobby shop Patton Boggs & Blow. Trump had, of course, BMS&K, with the S very visible in the room107.
A not uncommon approach when talking about politics is to ask about a person’s principles, and whether their actions are consistent with their principles. This, I think, is a mistake, especially when talking about people like Trump and Stone. There are only interests. A Connecticut casino was against those interests, but Trump had to express his opposition in terms of the general interest, that Foxwoods would become infiltrated with crime. The same method was used against the St. Regis Mohawks, who didn’t need to be infiltrated by hardcore criminals, they would be painted as hardcore criminals: drug dealers and human traffickers. After the ’93 hearing, and before his opposition of the St. Regis Mohawks, Trump would briefly take an entirely different approach.
In a hearing in 2004 before the House Government Reform Committee, Jeff Benedict, a writer of several books dealing with the problem of sexual assault among professional athletes as well as Without Reservation: How a Controversial Indian Tribe Rose to Power and Built the World’s Largest Casino, a critical look at the Pequots and the Foxwoods casino, would describe what took place next. As with every person and group involved with Indian gaming, you wonder if there’s anyone behind Benedict – but his criticism comes across as sincere, passionate, and all-encompassing. He takes issue with Trump, with the Pequots, with Foxwood, with both the Bush and Clinton administrations, with the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) itself, a law “that was supposed to aid Indian tribes has the shameful distinction of instead being a boon to non-Indian millionaires and casino moguls,” rather than impoverished Indian tribes.
From Benedict’s opening statement to the Committee, “Hearing on Transparency in BIA Acknowledgement Process,” a transcript now hosted on Benedict’s own site:
The Bureau of Indian Affairs – the agency with a trust responsibility to aid and look out for the welfare of tribes – has been the enabling partner to the non-Indian financiers and investors that have cashed in on Indian gambling. Initially, casino moguls like Donald Trump attacked the rise of Indian casinos as a fraud. He even testified before the United States Senate and suggested that the Mashantucket Pequots, which operate Foxwoods, the world’s largest casino, may not be true Indians. But Trump and other casino entrepreneurs recognized the writing on the wall and adopted an ‘If you can’t beat them, join them’ approach.
Instead of railing against Foxwoods and the Mashantucket Pequots who operate it, Trump went out and found another group calling itself Pequots. According to court documents, on March 11, 1997, Trump entered into a Memorandum of Understanding to finance the Paucatuck Eastern Pequot Tribal Nation’s bid for federal recognition. The contract between Trump and the Paucatucks states that the two parties would work jointly “to obtain federal recognition for the Paucatucks and to secure the legal rights of the Paucatucks and Trump to operate a tribal gaming facility in the State of Connecticut” that would be managed by Trump. In a five-year-span between 1997 and August 31, 2002, court papers indicate that Trump advanced the Paucatucks $9,192,807.
Put simply, instead of viewing Indian casinos as a threat, the casino industry began to recognize them as an opportunity. Casino operators and those who invest in them realized that IGRA offered them a vehicle to crack into markets across the country that had previously been off limits to casinos. The key was finding a tribal group to sponsor or finance. Suddenly, federal tribal acknowledgment became a bankable proposition for investors.
The Paucatuck Eastern Pequots, a separate tribe from the Mashantucket Pequots who owned Foxwoods, required federal recognition as a tribe in order to get a casino, and Trump was loaning money for this effort. There was another Connecticut tribe, the Schaghticokes, that was attempting the same thing, and this involved an old colleague of Roger Stone’s, the kind of happy cameo of the infamous that makes my heart skip. From Benedict’s testimony before the Committee:
The Schaghticokes have spent more than $500,000 on lobbyists since 1998. But apparently, that does not include monies paid to Paul J. Manafort, who is not registered as a lobbyist for the tribe. He is helping the Schaghticokes and has been described by one of the group’s lobbying firms as someone retained by the investors to provide “valuable strategic advice and counsel.” After Manafort came on board, the BIA reversed its earlier recommendation to deny the Schaghticokes tribal recognition; instead determining that the group should be recognized despite failing to meet the mandatory criteria for recognition.
Manafort’s role remains a mystery, along with any payments, benefits or incentives he may have received for his services. Manafort’s former partner Roger Stone has lobbied for Donald Trump. After assisting the 2000 Bush recount operation in Florida, Stone was selected by President Bush’s transition team to help staff the Interior Department’s BIA [Bureau of Indian Affairs]. Since then he has issued a prospectus to tribes seeking approval from the BIA to build casinos. “We believe that based on our superior political contacts we could win all necessary approvals in a time between 8 and 16 months,” it reads. Reportedly, Stone is projected to receive between $8 million and $13 million from agreements with tribal casino interests.
The name would come up again, under questioning from representative Doug Ose of California. From the “Hearing before the Committee of Government Reform (Serial No. 108-198)”:
Mr. Ose. Now, you mentioned two names. You mentioned a Randall Kaufman and a Paul—-
It wasn’t Randall Kaufman, but Ron Kaufman, and like Stone, he was a veteran of Reagan’s ’80 campaign, the ’84 campaign, and Bush’s ’88 campaign108. Back to the “Hearing before the Committee of Government Reform (Serial No. 108-198)”:
Mr. Benedict. Manafort.
Mr. Ose. How do you spell that?
Mr. Benedict. M-A-N-A-F-O-R-T.
Mr. Ose. Manafort. Is that Charles Manafort? Are Kaufman and Manafort lobbyists?
Mr. Benedict. That is a word you could use, but—-
Mr. Ose. Well, what word would you use?
Mr. Benedict. Power brokers.
Mr. Ose. Based here in Washington?
Mr. Benedict. Based here in Washington.
Mr. Ose. OK. Now, they are power brokers in what sense?
Mr. Benedict. Well, I guess in the crudest sense. There are reasons that one individual can attract a fee of $600,000 to monitor legislation. That is a lot of money to look at what is in the pipeline. I do that for our organization, and I get paid $75,000 a year, and have many other things. And I think what is going on here, Representative Ose, and let us be clear, this is not new to this administration.
There were the Mashantucket Pequots, who owned Foxwoods, and the Eastern Pequots fighting for federal recognition as a tribe whose efforts were funded by Trump and who had Kaufman as an adviser. There was also the Schaghticokes, fighting for federal recognition with Paul Manafort as an adviser and backed with money from tycoon Fred DeLuca, founder of Subway109. This was all taking place in Connecticut, and there were other fights in California. Here is where we might introduce what Roger Stone got in return for his work for Bush in Florida during the 2000 election.
The articles critical in describing what took place are “A Dirty Trickster’s Bush Bonanza” and “Inside Bush’s Indian Bureau” by Wayne Barrett. After the 2000 election, Stone circulated a prospectus, “Indian Gaming Opportunities,” which emphasized Baker asking him for help in Florida. It would say that Stone “was involved in selecting appointees for that department for the present administration.” It made clear Stone’s degree of influence in the Bureau of Indian Affairs: “We believe that based on our superior political contacts we could win all necessary approvals in a time between 8 and 16 months.” One contentious area on which the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) would be dealing was the Buena Vista Miwoks in California. In 2000, the state had passed Proposition 1A, granting a monopoly on casino gambling to the state’s federally recognized tribes, such as the Miwoks. Six months after passage of 1A, Donnamarie Potts, leader of the Buena Vista Miwoks, announced that she was teaming up with Cascade Entertainment Group to build a $100 million dollar casino. Rhonda Morningstar Pope objected to the plan, arguing that it would desecrate a cemetery on the land. Pope believed that she’d been unlawfully excluded from the tribal government, and that she, and not Potts, should be negotiating for the tribe, since she was a Buena Vista Miwok by blood, while Potts is one only by marriage. Donald Trump, in the speech before Congress where he said the Mashantucket Pequots didn’t look Indian, had also mocked the fact that there were only three to four hundred people in the tribe. The Buena Vista Miwoks were made up of six adults and six children. The BIA regional office would rule in Pope’s favor, removing Potts from control, and a few months later construction on the casino was halted. Potts put together a team to contest the decision, a team that included Scott Reed, someone who’d worked on the ’96 Dole campaign, and Reed’s associate, Roger Stone110.
Potts and her team lobbied to have the decision on leadership go straight to Washington, rather than being settled by the regional office. Wayne Smith was deputy director of the BIA, in charge of gaming, and the question was his of whether this decision should stay regional or he should decide it. He asked the head of the Bureau, Neal McCaleb, if he should intervene and McCaleb told him, no, let it stay regional. Scott Reed invited Smith to lunch. Smith said he wouldn’t be getting involved. Smith had once been a partner of Philip Bersinger, as a consultant for non-tribal card rooms. Reed now showed Smith a letter written by Bersinger, on stationary with the letterhead of the old consulting firm, “Bersinger & Smith”. “As for the Bureau of Indian Affairs, no one is better connected than me,” the letter went. The letter also mentioned that Bersinger went on vacations with Smith, and that when Smith was at Sacramento, he stayed at Bersinger’s house. “I could go on and on, but I think you get the picture,” the letter went. These letters, said Reed, could be embarrassing to the Secretary of the Interior. They, said Reed, could be embarrassing to the White House. The preceding is Smith’s version of events; Reed’s version does not differ by much. Smith told him that the Buena Vista leadership issue would be decided in Washington, not regionally. And the warning about the letters, Reed said, was friendly advice. Smith would call Bersinger to tell him that selling their friendship was inappropriate. But: Bersinger was already in contact with the Potts team111.
Bersinger would have two meetings with the Potts team in which he mentioned his closeness to Smith and gave his fee, $25,000 per month, plus expenses. A lawyer for the Potts team asked him to put it in writing. This is all according to a public relations consultant who worked for Cascade Entertainment Group, the gaming company that wanted to build a casino on Buena Vista Miwok land. Bersinger, the consultant said, told them that “only he could solve the problem at the BIA. It was a heavy lift. And worth a lot of money.” The Los Angeles Times obtained a copy of the letter Bersinger wrote to the Potts group. The letter did not mention Smith or fees. It was on his personal stationary, not the stationary of Bersinger & Smith. Bersinger’s services would include advice and “when appropriate, representation before administrative agencies.” Bersinger, through a lawyer, categorically denied what the Potts team alleged he had said. Michael Copperthite, an advisor to members of the Ione tribe, who also had issues pending before the BIA, would get copies of the Bersinger letters, the ones bragging about his friendship with Smith and the “Bersinger & Smith” letterhead. Wayne Smith is “a bad guy”, Stone said to Copperthite. Stone asked Copperthite to get the letters out to the press. Time magazine would do a story on the friendship of Bersinger and Smith: “The Man to See On Indian Affairs?” by Michael Weisskopf. The regional bureau would uphold the decision granting leadership to Pope. That meant the decision could go on to Washington for appeal. Soon after, Wayne Smith, deputy director of the BIA with authority over gambling, would be fired from the Bureau, without official reason112.
It appeared that Stone had taken out Smith. It also appeared that Stone had helped get Neal McCaleb the top spot. His top competitor for the position was an Indian leader named Tim Martin, who would suddenly receive an endorsement letter from Donald Trump. The letter arrived after stories had appeared about Trump secretly funding the ads which accused the St. Regis Mohawks of drug dealing, money laundering, and human trafficking. “I don’t know why Trump did that,” said Martin of the letter, who has never spoken to Trump. “I don’t think he and I have ever been in the same city at the same time.” In 1972, as already said, the candidate most feared to face off in the general election was Edmund Muskie. In New Hampshire, in the time right before the primary, people started getting calls in the middle of the night from a “Harlem for Muskie Committee.” In 1968, Roger Stone would contribute $200 to Democratic candidate Pete McCloskey in the name of the Young Socialist Alliance. He “most certainly did” the Trump letter, Stone would admit. Stone sent notes on Bush-Cheney Presidential Transition Foundation letterhead to tribal leaders, asking that they support McCaleb as head of the BIA113.
Stone’s pick for the three-member National Indian Gaming Commission was Chuck Chomey, and Chomey got on. Scott Reed, Stone’s associate, pressed for Aurene Martin in the No.3 position at BIA, and Martin got it. When Smith was terminated, Martin moved up to deputy. Stone would admit to having a piece in at least three casino deals. His contract with the Miwoks of Buena Vista, whose leadership was disputed between Rhonda Morningstar Pope and Donnamarie Potts, entitled him to a quarter million dollar retainer and seven and a half percent slice from the annual gaming revenue of the future $150 million dollar casino to be built there. Stone had a cut in the future casino of the Enterprise Rancheria. He had a cut in the future casinos of the Lytton Band of Pomo Indians, also in California. Stone allegedly told associates that he would earn four to seven million from the Lytton deal. On August 18th, 2004, governor Arnold Schwarzenegger okayed the San Pablo casino of the Pomo Indians, which, when built, would be the third biggest casino in the United States, with more slot machines than any casino in Vegas114. Roger Stone had just helped elect a president. He was about to become obscenely rich. It would be great if we had some melodramatic twist at this point, and I think we do: things go wrong, bad wrong, really wrong. The brakelines have been cut, and the joyride is now a screaming death dream. The suitcases were somehow switched at the train station, and this one isn’t full of cash. It’s completely empty.
With Trump’s presidential run, and Stone’s exit from the campaign, the consultant – drawn like a pig to shit – gave a flurry of interviews to the press, his first to highborn and highflown luminaries outside of the hard right podcast ghetto in years. It was with one of the those that we get a detailed (though obviously unreliable) description of how Stone and Trump first met. From the podcast Ken Rudin’s Political Junkie, “Episode #89: Should I Stay Or Should I Go?” (from 7:13 to 10:34):
Roger, it’s great to have you on the program.
Ken, it’s great to be here.
In all the years I’ve been reading about a potential, and now realized, Trump presidential campaign, your name has always been associated with the effort. How long have you known him?
I actually met Donald Trump in 1979, when I was sent to New York to organize then former governor Ronald Reagan’s campaign for president. And I was given a card file, that belonged to Nancy Reagan, of their friends in New York. Like, a menu. Like, a recipe file. And there were maybe sixty seventy cards in it, the problem was, half the people on those cards were dead. But among the cards was a card for Roy Cohn, the flamboyant and famous New York attorney, who of course I had read about, and knew about, but didn’t of course know.
Joe McCarthy’s former aide.
Joe McCarthy’s old running mate. And I contacted Cohn, and I told him what I wanted, and he said, “Do you know Fred and Donald Trump?” And I said, “No, I don’t. I only know of them.” “Well,” he said, “Fred’s a great conservative” – in fact, Fred Trump, Donald Trump’s father, was one of the original financiers of the Goldwater campaign – “and you need to meet them. I think they’d be interested.” So, I met Donald’s father, and then I subsequently met him, and they both signed on our finance committee, Donald was very important to our effort a couple of ways, helped us get office space, helped us get phones installed on a faster basis, lent us his plane to file our petitions, to fly our petitions at the very last minute to get on the ballot. And we became fast friends. In 1980, when Reagan was elected, I opened my lobbying practice, Black, Manafort, Stone, and Kelly, lined up most of the dictators of the world we could find [see “Publicists of the Damned” by Art Levine]. Pro-western dictators, of course.
The good ones.
Dictators are in the eye of the beholder. In any event, he was among my first clients. I handled some currency transaction issues, regarding his casinos. And treasury, new rules they were passing. Handled some FAA building height questions, because some of the skyscrapers he was building, were scraping the sky as far as the federal government was concerned. In other issues, I secured permits to secure the dredging of the harbor in Atlantic City, so he could bring his incredible yacht in. We became very good friends. I’ve wanted him to run for president since 1988, when I arranged for the Portsmouth, New Hampshire Chamber of Commerce, to do a luncheon speech. Where he absolutely wowed them. And it was standing room only, some very enthusiastic friends of mine in New Hampshire organized the very first “Trump for President” or “Draft Trump Committee”, but it was early in his career, he really wasn’t that interested in politics as an avocation, he was more interested in politics as an observer or donor. Then fast forward to 2000, when both he and I were unimpressed with the choice between Al Gore and George W. Bush. Ross Perot, Jesse Ventura, and others – Jesse then the governor – urged him to seek the Reform Party nomination. As you know, Ken, the Reform Party in those days had a federal matching funds, made that nomination attractive. I was the chairman of his exploratory committee, there was actually a straw poll for the Reform Party in Dearborn, Michigan, which Trump won. But in the end, he elected not to make that race.
PRETTY RECKLESS IS GOING STRAIGHT TO HELL
WASHINGTON – Things had seemed to be going so well earlier in the day. There were Donald and Marla at the Willard Hotel on Saturday, basking in the glow of flashbulbs, looking atll warm and lovey at the wedding of a friend
Not seven hours later, the lovebirds were at it again – this time staging one of their infamous histrionic fights in front of transfixed guest in the lobby of the Four Seasons Hotel.
“I’ll never marry you,” Maples reportedly shouted. “I don’t care how much money you make.”
Maples then ripped off her 7.5-karat diamond engagement ring (estimated value $250,000) and flung it at her fiancé. She bolted out the front door, with Trump in hot pursuit.
Trump and Maples were in town to attend the wedding of Republican political consultant Roger Stone to his long-time girlfriend, Nydia Bertran. They arrived at the Willard for the reception an hour after the ceremony and essentially stole the how from the newlyweds.
Trump and Maples appeared happy, held hands and deferred to each other in conversation. She was wearing a red silk suit and made a point of inspecting the bride’s diamond.
Asked how everything was going with their relationship, Maples beamed an said, “Great!”
After the wedding, the couple did a limousine tour of the monuments, returned to the Willard to watch Maples’s guest appearance on “P.S.I. Luv You,” and then headed back out for some additional partying at Desiree. The rest is history.
104 From “Trump $upported Group That Fought Indian Casino Bid” by Fred Dicker:
Megabuilder Donald Trump secretly funneled thousands of dollars to an upstate “institute” that opposed an Indian casino in the Catskills, The Post has learned.
The payments are expected to trigger a widening of the ongoing investigation of Trump by the state Lobbying Commission because the law says the sources of $2,000 or more spent to influence state legislation must be disclosed.
Trump, who owns several New Jersey casinos and fears competition from the Catskills, funneled the money – estimated at “at least tens of thousands of dollars” – to the New York Institute for Law and Society, a virtually unknown organization based in upstate Rome, sources said.
The institute, which lists self-styled “conservative activist” Tom Hunter as its head, sponsored statewide newspaper, television and radio commercials this year opposing Indian gaming operations, which it linked to violence and organized crime.
Repeated attempts over five days to reach Hunter were unsuccessful.
Messages left at the institute went unreturned, though a “Joe Smith” who answered the phone said Hunter had been given the messages.
Roger Stone, a longtime national conservative activist and political consultant, is also being investigated by the Lobbying Commission for his casino-related lobbying efforts on behalf of Trump, a long-time friend.
The Middletown Times Herald-Record newspaper disclosed earlier this year that the New York Institute for Law and Society was incorporated in Delaware by Virginia lawyer J. Curtis Herge, who it said has represented organizations linked to Stone.
A subsequent piece is “State Commission Investigates Trump Effort To Stop Casino” by Richard Penez-Pena.
105 From Dirty Tricks:
In Albany, attorneys for Trump who met with Lobbying Commission officials admitted that the developer bankrolled an anti-Indian casino ad campaign mounted by a group called the New York Institute for Law and Society. Trump, who owns three casinos in Atlantic City, is concerned that competition from an Indian development in the Catskills would drain his New Jersey holdings. Lawyer Edward Wallace said The Donald did not report the expenditure because he did not believe it fit the state’s definition of “lobbying activity.”
However, Wallace conceded that Trump may have waded into a “gray area.” He said he planned to revise Trump’s filing with the lobbying panel to reflect the spending for the attack ads. “I’d rather amend than fight,” said Wallace. Lobbying officials also are delving into the activities of Trump lobbyist Roger Stone, who helped develop the ads. New York defines lobbying as “any attempt to influence the passage or defeat” of any legislation under consideration at the state or local government level. New Jersey sources said the Casino Control Commission frequently penalizes Atlantic City casino operators for questionable out-of-state activities. Last year, the commission zeroed in on the Florida lobbying activities of Bally’s Entertainment, now known as Park Place Entertainment.
The apology by Trump and Stone, is in “Trump makes his apologies to Iroquois” by Jim Adams:
NEW YORK CITY – Donald Trump, the nemesis of the St. Regis Mohawk Tribal Council, is preparing a $50,000 ad campaign to take it all back.
Trump has agreed to make public apologies in upstate New York media and pay a record $250,000 fine to New York’s Temporary State Commission on Lobbying for his secret funding of anti-Mohawk newspaper ads this spring. The settlement avoids a public hearing before the commission.
Thomas Hunter, president of the institute, admitted in June that he was supported by gaming interests but refused to name Trump directly.
The New York Post reported that the negotiated statement will read: “Donald Trump, Roger Stone, Thomas Hunter, on behalf of Trump Hotels and Casino Resorts, Ikon Public Affairs and the New York Institute for Law and Society, respectfully apologize if anyone was misled concerning the production and funding of the lobbying effort.”
“Go up to Connecticut,” Donald Trump told a House subcommittee and its overflow audience Tuesday, “and you look” at the Mashantucket Pequots.
“They don’t look like Indians to me.”
The Pequots operate the Foxwoods Casino and High Stakes Bingo in Ledyard. Trump’s assertion in the Halls of Congress Tuesday — which he broadened to include all Indians who run casinos — was just one more grenade in an hourlong assault on Connecticut, Indians and their casinos that one committee chairman said was the most irresponsible testimony he had heard in nearly two decades in Congress.
Watch out, warned Trump. Organized crime figures are slithering into Indian casinos around the country.
“It will be the biggest scandal ever,” Trump warned, “the biggest since Al Capone … . An Indian chief is going to tell Joey Killer to please get off his reservation? It’s unbelievable to me.”
Much of Trump’s testimony was unbelievable to the committee and other witnesses, including G. Michael Brown, president and chief executive officer of the Foxwoods casino, and Connecticut State Police Lt. Col. Robert Root.
Brown and Root vehemently denied there was a trace of organized crime at Foxwoods, and Brown called Trump’s remarks “racist.” And the idea that tribe members are pocketing such high profits, Brown said, is “totally false.”
“I had a long and boring speech,” he told the panel, “It was politically correct and something that would have gotten me into no trouble whatsoever.”
With that, he offered off-the-cuff remarks about some of the things bugging him lately, such as:
The mob. Forget the Justice Department’s shrug. “Organized crime is rampant. People know it. People talk about it,” Trump insisted. “I wonder what (former FBI director) J. Edgar Hoover would have said about this.”
The presence of the various top tier lobby firms at the hearing is given mention in “Indian Gaming Issues Becoming More Work For Lobbyists” by David Lightman:
WASHINGTON – It’s easy to spot the insiders and outsiders these days in the ever-growing world of Indian gaming.
The scene at a Tuesday hearing by the House Native American Affairs subcommittee, which normally deliberates in a small third-floor room in one of the Capitol’s oldest buildings, told the new tale.
The panel was holding a hearing on how gaming could be better regulated. Inside the packed room were representatives of some of Washington’s most powerful lobbying firms, notably Black Manafort Stone & Kelly and Patton Boggs & Blow.
Roger J. Stone of Black Manafort stood prominently in the front of the room, chatting with his client, developer and casino magnate Donald Trump. Katharine R. Boyce, newly hired by Connecticut’s Mashantucket Pequot tribe, sat with her clients.
108 A brief, recent profile of Kaufman is “Ron Kaufman’s new home” by Jonathan Martin. Kaufman puts in an appearance in an overview of the ’88 Republican convention, “It Seems As Much A Reunion As Convention” by Dorothy Collin.
109 These details are all brought up in the opening statement of Jeff Benedict at the “Hearing on Transparency in BIA Acknowledgement Process”.
The Stone prospectus, which is titled “Indian Gaming Opportunities,” contains a bio that features Baker’s “recruiting” of him for the Florida recount and discloses that he “subsequently served on the Presidential Transition” for Interior. It even contends that Stone “was involved in selecting appointees for that department for the present administration.” A brief introduction makes five references to Interior’s role and twice as many to “federal” powers in Indian gaming, concluding, “We believe that based on our superior political contacts we could win all necessary approvals in a time between 8 and 16 months.”
The contrast between Trump’s statements and the Buena Vista Miwoks can be made first, the statement taken from “Trump Criticizes Pequots, Casino” by David Lightman:
“I really don’t believe you understand,” Trump said. There’s big money here, and organized crime wants it.
“I believe this tribe has 300, 400 members (It has 280). Do you think it’s appropriate for 300 [members], who lucked out with a location between New York and Boston, shouldn’t give some of the money out to others?”
Second, from the actual numbers of the Buena Vista Miwoks, from “A Game of Casino Hardball” by Judy Pasternak and Eric Bailey:
A wind-swept little graveyard sits atop a knoll on the Buena Vista rancheria, a quiet resting place in the Sierra foothills for an Indian clan that has neared extinction.
Yet this patch of land with its gnarled oaks and golden grass has been the focus of ferocious machinations on two coasts — a fight cementing California’s status as the hottest front in the nation’s Indian casino wars.
Two years ago, the Buena Vista Miwoks, a band of six adults and six children, announced plans for a gaming hall on their 67-acre rancheria. Competition appeared in the form of a young mother, who claimed the rightful authority to negotiate on the tribe’s behalf.
On the passage of 1A and the possibility of building a casino, “A Game of Casino Hardball” by Judy Pasternak and Eric Bailey:
Six months after passage of Proposition 1A, Buena Vista leader Donnamarie Potts announced that the tribe was teaming up with Cascade Entertainment Group, a Sacramento gaming firm, to build a $100-million casino on its rancheria 30 miles southeast of the state capital. Most of the investors were New York financiers, a Cascade executive said, but he would not identify them.
Potts and Cascade lured plenty of big shots to their cause. The consulting team included Reed and Stone and at least 10 others, such as a former University of California regent and legislator; a San Francisco energy lobbyist and former Interior Department official; and several partners in the law firm Gale A. Norton left to become the Interior secretary.
To work Capitol Hill, Potts hired two Democrats, both former BIA appointees under former President Clinton.
“It’s a big fight,” Potts said. “We were losing everything.”
Potts appealed the Central California BIA decision to the BIA regional director in Sacramento. But she was worried about the viewpoint of several officials in the BIA’s regional office who belong to a neighboring tribe, the Ione Band of Miwoks.
The Iones too have buried kin at the Buena Vista graveyard; they also have discussed gaming with potential investors — giving them two reasons to be unhappy about Potts’ progress toward a casino just a country lane away.
Hedging their bets, Potts’ lobbyists pursued another tack. The BIA sometimes allows appeals to go straight to Washington for a judgment. Potts’ counselors set out to make that happen.
The decision fell to Wayne Smith, the deputy director of the BIA. Smith had asked for authority over gambling and land issues when he moved to Washington from Sacramento in August 2001. If I’d known then what I know now,” Smith said, “I’d have taken water issues or energy.”
Smith asked BIA head McCaleb for advice: Should he take control of the Potts-Pope dispute right away and make the decision himself, or should he allow it to go through the usual appeal process at the regional office?
McCaleb said not to intervene. Smith “told me the process was working,” McCaleb said. When he got phone calls from Potts’ lobbyists, he referred them to Smith.
From “A Game of Casino Hardball” by Judy Pasternak and Eric Bailey, on the Bersinger letter:
Reed invited Smith to lunch March 14 at a seafood restaurant on Washington’s K Street, a thoroughfare locally known as Lobbyists’ Gulch.
In Smith’s recounting, he told Reed flat out that he was going to let Potts’ appeals run the regular course. Reed was not happy. The lobbyist’s response was to reach into his coat pocket, drawing out a piece of paper folded in thirds.
“It would look really bad if this got out,” he said.
Smith acted surprised when he read it, Reed recalled. That’s because he was, Smith said.
The paper was a letter to a tribe seeking consulting work. It was signed by Philip Bersinger, who had once been a partner of Smith’s in a now-dissolved consulting business in California for nontribal card rooms. The letter was written on “Bersinger & Smith” stationery. It was one of two in Reed’s possession that invoked Smith’s name to drum up business with tribes in Washington state and California.
Bersinger phrased his qualifications this way: “As for the Bureau of Indian Affairs, no one is better connected than me.” He mentioned his vacations with Smith and that Smith stayed at his home whenever he traveled to Sacramento. “I could go on and on, but I think you get the picture,” Bersinger wrote.
“These letters could embarrass the secretary [of the Interior] and the White House,” Reed told his lunch companion.
In his mind, Smith said, the conversation had turned ominous: “First came the threat, then the blackmail.”
Reed’s account of the lunch is similar but differs on two important points. He said Smith told him the Buena Vista issue would be decided in Washington, as Reed and the rest of the Potts team had hoped. The warning about the letters, Reed said, was merely friendly advice.
Asked about the discrepancy, both men stuck by their stories. Smith said he never told any of Potts’ representatives at any time that he would fast-track the matter to D.C. Reed said Smith “tells you what you want to hear and then does nothing.”
Smith left the restaurant with reason for concern. He was still close to Bersinger, staying at his house during visits to Sacramento — and once allowed him to tag along to a restaurant meeting with Potts and her advisors. He knew that the letter Reed had shown him could cast an ugly light on their relationship.
Smith says he phoned Bersinger and told him that selling their friendship was inappropriate.
But by this time, Bersinger was already engaged with the Potts group.
Within weeks of Smith’s lecture, Bersinger had two meetings with Potts’ attorney, John Peebles, and Cascade’s president, Russell Pratt. Through his attorney, Bersinger said he didn’t invoke Smith in any way this time. But Potts’ group says Bersinger talked of Smith repeatedly.
“Phil said only he could solve the problem at the BIA. It was a heavy lift. And worth a lot of money,” said Jean Munoz, a public relations consultant who said she was authorized to speak for Peebles and Pratt. Asked how much money, according to Munoz, Bersinger said he had to talk with Smith and get back to them. She said Bersinger claimed to have “a long-standing business plan” with his important pal.
On April 4, Bersinger visited Peebles, indicated he had talked with Smith, then asked for $25,000 a month plus a percentage of casino revenue, Munoz said.
The lawyer asked Bersinger to put it in writing. A copy was obtained by The Times.
Bersinger used his personal stationary and never mentioned Smith or fees. He wrote that he would be available to consult on Potts’ interest in the BIA’s recognition of her tribal leadership. His services, he wrote, would include advice and, “when appropriate, representation before administrative agencies.”
Bersinger’s attorney, Matt Jacobs, says “I categorically deny that he said any” of the statements that Potts’ side attributed to him.
Smith said his old friend “never talked to me. I didn’t know anything about this.”
On May 6, the BIA’s Pacific regional director upheld the original decision in favor of Pope, ruling that Potts was not entitled to lead the Buena Vista tribe. The official window for bringing the decision back to Washington had opened.
Within weeks, Smith was fired.
Smith says he was never given an official reason. His dismissal letter states only that his services were “no longer required.” The FBI and internal Interior investigators had not reached any conclusions. Interior officials refused to comment.
“My friend wrote some … letters, he never lobbied me, and I got fired,” Smith said.
“It doesn’t look good, I don’t deny that, but I never knew what he was up to. And there is no evidence that I did.”
Stone also helped by submarining McCaleb’s top competitor, an Indian leader named Tim Martin. A kiss-of-death letter endorsing Martin appeared “out of the blue,” Martin remembers. It was signed by Donald Trump, a client of Stone for 20 years who was all over the media at the time for having funded an anti-Indian advertising campaign in New York while simultaneously trying to do Indian projects in California and Connecticut. “I don’t know why Trump did that,” says Martin, who’d never spoken to Trump. “I don’t think he and I have ever been in the same city at the same time.” Stone says he “most certainly did” the Trump letter, claiming he saved BIA from “even bigger scandals” because Martin was supported by the lobbyists who are the focus of the ongoing Washington Post stories and a future hearing by Senator John McCain.
“It knocked Martin out,” recalls Wayne Smith, the former deputy assistant secretary at BIA who recalls McCaleb attributing the letter to Stone (McCaleb abruptly terminated a Voice interview). The letter reinforced the irony of Stone’s role in the BIA transition, as he and Trump had just been fined $250,000 in October by the New York State Lobbying Commission for Trump’s secret funding of Stone-directed ads blasted by tribal leaders as “racist.” Tying a tribe proposing a casino that would’ve competed with Trump’s Jersey empire to “drug trafficking, money laundering, the mob, violence, and the smuggling of illegal immigrants,” the ads featured pictures of cocaine lines and drug needles.
From Nixonland by Rick Perlstein:
New Hampshire was March 7; as Election Day approached, people started complaining about getting calls in the middle of the night from a “Harlem for Muskie Committee.” (Muskie’s enraged campaign manager, Berl Bernhard, called McGovern’s political director, Frank Mankiewicz, and demanded that they stop; Mankiewicz, enraged, asked Bernhard what the hell he was talking about.) Muskie, the man who’d weeks before been the most popular Democrat in America-outside the noncandidate Ted Kennedy-ended up with 46 percent in New Hampshire instead of the predicted 65.
Beyond McCaleb, Stone and Reed pushed other top Bush gaming appointments. “If you are lucky,” says Stone, suggesting he was, “a transition team will sift through a thousand résumés for mid- to low-level positions.” Stone acknowledges a role in eventually installing Chuck Choney on the three-member National Indian Gaming Commission, while Reed and partner John Fluharty urged the hiring of Aurene Martin, who got the No. 3 job at BIA. Interior general counsel William Myers, a former law partner and a friend of Sansonetti now up for a federal appeals judgeship, hardly needed much help from Stone. But Stone told clients like Russell Pratt, the president of Buena Vista’s development company at the time, that he aided Myers’s appointment and had “easy access” to him. Stone now says he meant access through Sansonetti and Myers’s ex-firm.
When Smith was forced out in a June 2002 swirl of controversy, Martin became deputy, even moving up temporarily to McCaleb’s job after his December departure. Coming to BIA from Colorado senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell’s Indian Affairs Committee staff, where Stone has long had well-placed contacts, Martin has been the only fixture at BIA in the first Bush term. At a September 2002 hearing of Campbell’s committee, for example, she made no attempt to defend a decision Smith made against Buena Vista, paving the way for a Stone-conceived corrections bill that passed in 2004 and re-establishes Stone’s tribal chief.
The nation’s third-largest gambling emporium — a six- to eight- story casino with up to 5,000 slot machines — would sprout in the heart of San Pablo under terms of a deal between an Indian tribe and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.
The compact with the Lytton Band of Pomo Indians, expected to be announced this week in Sacramento, would vault the once-landless tribe to the top tier of the nation’s gaming entrepreneurs and generate new revenue for California’s general fund — and it could transform the small, working-class East Bay city.
Meanwhile, the deal would guarantee that no new casino open shop within a 35-mile radius of San Pablo — a critical blow to any other tribe hoping to stake a claim in the core Bay Area market.
The Lytton casino, to be the state’s first in an urban area, is expected to be built within two years on a 9-acre sliver of land where the tribe’s comparatively humble card room now sits, less than a quarter of a mile from Interstate 80.
According to a general outline of the tribe’s plans submitted for federal review, the casino will cover up to 600,000 square feet and will include two gaming floors, six restaurants and bars and entertainment areas. City officials said they expect it to be six to eight stories.
According to Wall Street analysts, the Lytton operation could have more slot machines than any casino in Las Vegas and would be smaller than only two other casinos in the nation — Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, Conn., and Foxwoods Resort Casino in nearby Mashantucket. Those Indian-run casinos have 6, 200 and 6,600 slot machines, respectively.