Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., winks as she jokes with other senators on the Senate Banking Committee ahead of a hearing on the nomination of Marvin Goodfriend to be a member of the Federal Reserve Board of Governors, Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2018, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
Massachusetts Senator and presidential wannabe Liz Warren thought she had a great plan.
She would endear herself to Native Americans and mitigate her “Faux-cahontas” PR nightmare by championing the cause of the Mashpee Wampanoag in their pursuit of a tribal casino
It hasn’t panned out. Warren’s “fake Indian” problem is alive and well but the tribe’s chances of securing the casino appear dead. Late-last year the Department of the Interior ruled the federal could not take land in trust for the tribe, a preliminary step to establishing a tribal casino.
Warren has blamed President Donald Trump, of course, saying, “The decision by the Trump administration to move forward with denying the Mashpee Wampanoag a right to their ancestral homeland and to keep their reservation is an injustice.”
In the House, Democrat Rep. Raul Grijalva (AZ-03), who is now the Chair of the Natural Resources Committee, has blamed House Republicans. In December, while still in the minority, Grijalva took to the floor accusing Republicans of “cruelly pulling the rug out from underneath” the tribe. He stated that “the majority has refused to address the issue for more than a decade”
He further claimed, “as a result of the Trump administration decision the Mashpee tribe is on the brink of total dissolve … resulting in devastating cuts to essential services and massive layoffs.”
You can hear Grijalva make his accusations at the 1:58 mark of the following video:
Get it? It’s all Trump’s fault.
It must be said that the Department of the Interior was merely upholding a U.S. District Court ruling in which, “U.S. District Court Judge William G. Young [a Reagan appointee] blocked the decision, ruling that the tribe was recognized about 73 years too late to qualify under the 1934 Indian Reorganization Act.”
Furthermore, the Democrats’ narrative that Donald Trump is essentially trying to exterminate the tribe was struck a fatal blow this week. A new villain has emerged in the story about the tribe’s deteriorating financial situation: Its own Chairman.
According to the Cape Cod Times:
The Mashpee Wampanoag Tribal Council chairman is no longer in charge of the tribe’s finances. … On Wednesday, the council voted 7-0 to strip Cedric Cromwell of his fiduciary duties as chairman and in his role as president of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribal Gaming Authority, a five-member board charged with overseeing the tribe’s long-stalled gaming operation, according to sources who were present at the time. …
The council also took a vote of no confidence in Cromwell, 9-0, with one abstention, a procedure traditionally used by members of a legislative body to remove a head of government from office, though it varies from government to government and does not necessarily result in any action.
Cromwell is going through a nasty and unfortunate divorce, which has in turn revealed some personal financial mismanagement which his wife claims stretches into his financial management of the tribe. We may never know the details because Cromwell has stated, “he would not ‘disclose tribal financial details to non-tribal citizens with so many of our enemies out there looking to seize on whatever information they can in an attempt to sow confusion and destruction.'”
Meanwhile, the Malaysian financiers that have backed the tribe while hoping to strike it rich with the casino appears to be pulling back its financial commitment – not because of Donald Trump but because of the tribe’s financial mess. As the Cape Cod Times reports, “The revelations come as the tribe is contending with a $440 million debt to its financial backer, Genting Malaysia, which recently wrote off its investment in the tribe as a loss.”
With any luck, this messy episode will be but a microcosm of Warren’s entire Presidential campaign.