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Indian Tribes Steal Millions, No One Is Prosecuted

From the Associated Press:

Tribes mishandle funds, go unpunished

By JUSTIN PRITCHARD and P. SOLOMON BANDA | October 7, 2013

ETHETE, Wyo. (AP) — American Indian tribes have been caught misappropriating tens of millions of taxpayer dollars, according to internal tribal audits and other documents. But federal authorities do little about it — due to a lack of oversight, resources or political will.

Meanwhile, Obama and the rest of the left are quibbling over the name of a football team.

The result? Poor tribes like the Northern Arapaho of Wyoming suffer.

Don’t the US taxpayers whose money is stolen suffer, too?

One Arapaho manager pocketed money meant to buy meals for tribal elders. Another used funds from the reservation’s diabetes program to subsidize personal shopping trips. And other members plundered the tribal welfare fund, then gambled the money away at one of the tribe’s casinos.

Altogether, employees drained at least a half-million dollars from the coffers of a tribe whose members have a median household income of about $16,000 a year.

Federal agencies questioned millions more dollars the Northern Arapaho government spent, but decided not to recover any of the money — and even increased funding to the tribe.

That is our federal government at work.

The Wyoming tribe is hardly unique.

An Associated Press review of summaries of audits shows that serious concerns were consistently raised about 124 of 551 tribal governments, schools or housing authorities that received at least 10 years of substantial federal funds since 1997.

Fraud and theft occur across the range of nonprofits and local governments that get federal money. But tribes are five times as likely as other recipients of federal funds to have "material weaknesses" that create an opportunity for abuses, according to the review. Overall, one in four audits concluded that tribal governments, schools or housing authorities had a material weakness in their federally funded programs; the rate was one in 20 for nontribal programs.

Thousands of pages of audits and dozens of reports by federal investigators, obtained by the AP under the Freedom of Information Act, show evidence of embezzlement, paychecks for do-nothing jobs, and employees who over-billed hours and expenses.

In other words, Indian tribes are a lot like Chicago Democrats. But this just shows the general corruption that is rampant in the federal government at large. 

And it probably happens in any enterprise where people are given a lot of money without any accountability. But it seems to be especially true in cases where people have been made wards of the state.

The audits, conducted by private firms, are required of tribes that spend more than $500,000 in federal funds annually.

Agencies often cannot legally cut funding because of treaties, Supreme Court decisions and acts of Congress, and frequently refuse to take control of failing programs.

"It’s basically a reluctance to take on tribes. The Department of the Interior bends over backwards to be their friends," said Earl Devaney, the former inspector general at the department that houses the bureaus of Indian Affairs and Indian Education. "It’s ‘make nice,’ and what you don’t know, you don’t know." …

Tribal council members in Northern California used federal grants to pay their utility bills and mortgages. A Nebraska tribe spent health clinic money on horses and ATVs. An environmental supervisor with a Washington tribe received $16,000 for mileage and other charges he either exaggerated or never incurred.

Among grant programs with a significant track record in a government database of audits, tribes ran 16 of the 20 with the highest rates of rule-breaking. Auditors flagged welfare grants to tribes, for example, 39 percent of the time. Most prominent were programs funded by Interior’s bureaus of Indian Affairs and Indian Education and the Indian Health Service, under the Department of Health and Human Services…

Since the early 1970s, federal policy has favored letting tribes manage housing, health, welfare, law enforcement and other programs as they see fit. As this "self-determination" approach took hold, many tribes developed the financial savvy and governmental infrastructure to handle millions in federal money without major incident…

Or getting caught.

But others, like the Northern Arapaho, have not. Federal officials try to coach tribes to self-correct rather than punish them — both in deference to tribal "self-determination" and because there aren’t enough staff to closely monitor the thousands of service contracts between tribes and the government.

There will never be enough policemen to watch everyone.

Even when auditors raise concerns, there is no guarantee that tribal leaders will be investigated or prosecuted. Several auditors said their contracts were not renewed after they uncovered self-enrichment by tribal leaders.

Indeed, agencies recoup a small fraction of what they conclude tribes owe.

Since fiscal year 2008, the BIA and the Bureau of Indian Education have collected only $2.3 million of nearly $69 million in questionable expenditures, according to financial records. In several cases, the bureaus were legally barred from recouping money because they waited too long.

Since 2003, auditors concluded that 79 tribes or Indian organizations couldn’t justify $33 million of Environmental Protection Agency money they spent. EPA said it had recouped "approximately $3 million" since October 2007.

Indian Affairs and Indian Education can’t legally reduce funding even to corrupt governments. Funding levels are set by federal law, regardless of how well a tribe is managed…

Which is pretty much the way the entire government works. And stories like this make the idea of really shutting down the government more and more attractive.

This article was posted by Steve Gilbert on Monday, October 7th, 2013. Comments are currently closed.

4 Responses to “Indian Tribes Steal Millions, No One Is Prosecuted”

  1. Enthalpy

    They must have some link to Tim Geithner, Hank Paulson, Jon Corzine, HSBC, Goldman Sachs, and countless others.

  2. Astravogel

    They’re just emulating the folks who stole two Continents from them.

  3. The indians are just getting back what the white man owes them in the mind of these bureaucratic government libtards.

    “Federal officials try to coach tribes to self-correct rather than punish them…..”

    Why don’t they let bank robbers and drug dealers self-correct? What’s the difference? What a bunch of dumba$$es!

  4. (bad word) .. they’ve got a long, long way to go to catch up to the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

    But still, stealing from your own people? That’s Congressional territory.

    Shame on them,




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