Democratic presidential candidates, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., left, and Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., right, participate in a Democratic presidential primary debate at the Gaillard Center, Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2020, in Charleston, S.C., co-hosted by CBS News and the Congressional Black Caucus Institute. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
Long before Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s campaign for President of the United States fizzled out, the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe in Massachusetts appeared to be trying to distance itself from the embattled senator.
Even though Warren was by far the tribe’s biggest advocate in its campaign to gain a casino in Taunton, Mass., Warren’s name mysteriously disappeared from the bill to do just that, which she famously co-sponsored just as her campaign was getting organized.
“Everyone knows it’s her bill, but they [the Mashpee] don’t want her anywhere near it,” an “industry insider” told Inside Sources last year.
It appears Warren may have become too toxic a figure for the beleaguered tribe.
Now comes the tribe’s new white knight– Sen. Bernie Sanders?
I stand with the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe in their fight to restore lands that belong to them, and I oppose the disgraceful decision by the Trump Administration to disestablish their lands held in trust by the Department of Interior. https://t.co/pNH2YUH00D
— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) March 29, 2020
Sander’s is reacting to Interior Secretary David Bernhardt’s decision to reverse an Obama administration effort to grant the tribe a casino by taking the preliminary step of placing land-in-trust. This decision was controversial at the time because the tribe was federally recognized in 1934, under the Indian Reorganization Act. As journalist Michael Graham points out, “they didn’t become a federally recognized tribe until 2007, and only after paying tens of thousands of dollars to corrupt D.C. lobbyist ‘Casino Jack’ Abramoff.”
In February, the First US Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a lower court’s ruling that invalidated the Obama administration’s decision.
As Graham observes:
By backing the Mashpees, Sanders is supporting the cause of Genting, a multinational conglomerate linked to a corrupt kickback scheme that helped bring down Malaysia’s government in 2018. They operate casinos and resorts in ethically-challenged countries like China and the Philippines “that together represent the world’s most far-flung gambling empire,” Asian Review reports.
Genting backed the tribe’s efforts to gain the casino financially to the tune of half-a-billion dollars. Their big lobbying spend has been for naught. But Genting now has two prominent progressive Democratic U.S. Senators publicly voicing their cause. If Democrats retake the U.S. Senate in November, Genting’s massive gamble could finally pay off.