January 30, 2012

Obama holds fundraiser with Indians

Obama holds fundraiser with American Indians

By Ken ThomasPresident Barack Obama, raising money for his campaign among tribal leaders, said Friday he wants American Indians to be "full partners" in the economy.

Obama met with 70 to 75 supporters from Native American tribes. Democratic officials said the fundraiser would benefit the Obama Victory Fund, a joint committee of the Obama campaign and the Democratic National Committee. Tickets started at $15,000.

Obama told participants that he has worked to include American Indians in his administration and wants Native Americans to be "full partners in our economy." The president noted that he had signed laws to improve health care for Native American tribes and pushed for better educational opportunities and more improvements to tribal economies.

"We want new businesses and new opportunities to take root on the reservations," Obama said. Attendees included Democratic National Committee chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, a Florida congresswoman, and former Rep. Patrick Kennedy, D-R.I.
Our Readers Weigh In: Tribal Leaders Should Not Have Paid to Attend Obama Fundraiser

By Levi RickertObviously, there are varying degrees of participation in the American political system. Clearly, the 75 American Indian leaders felt they should participate by contributing to President Obama's campaign.

By reading the reactions from our readers to Saturday's article, there was not one positive comment about the tribal officials paying at least $15,000 to attend President Obama's fundraiser.

Here is a sampling of the comments:

  • "With the on-going suffering and a lack of any meaningful apology from the US Government for the past 500 years, it's difficult to understand why tribal leaders would pay $15,000 to listen to President Obama!"

  • Why doesn't he free Leonard Peltier? Now. This is his chance if he wants my vote!

  • "Should have taken the money and put it somewhere on the reservation where it would have done some good to the people that needed it instead of flushing it down the drain."

  • "$35,800 could do a LOT of good in most Native communities!!!!!!"

  • The following comment came via an email to me late Sunday night from Los Angeles:

    "Sovereign nation leaders, tribal elders and Obama refers to them as 'you guys'? Is this how he addresses the governors or other leaders at the United Nations? The 75 'guys' giving $15,000 to sit with Obama was a waste of money. Is this the payment of money he got by hosting three tribal leaders meetings?"

    I am sure the 75 American Indian tribal officials would argue this is how American politics is played. They would argue you have to give big money in hope of something in return.
    Comment:  I'd call this fundraiser a necessary evil for tribal leaders. Obviously, $15,000 a ticket doesn't look good on the surface. But leaders are buying the opportunity to influence Obama's policies. If they persuade him to increase Indian services by, say, $100 million, the million-dollar fundraiser would be a good investment.

    Meanwhile, the chances of Obama's pardoning Leonard Peltier are slim to none. I wouldn't even waste time asking him about it. If you get a few minutes to talk with Obama, you should concentrate on jobs, healthcare, and law enforcement, not one possible pardon.

    For more on the positive side of Obama's relationship with Indians, see Obama Rejects Keystone XL Pipeline and Obama Signs Cobell Settlement. For more on the negative side, see Funding Cuts for Tribal Justice and Obama Breaks Promise to Indians.


    Lynn McAdams said...

    Is there some way to find out what leaders from where attended this fund raiser? Was my tribes represented? Eastern Shoshone/Northern Arapaho?

    Shadow Wolf said...

    I don't think Leonard Peltier will ever be free. Some people just need to accept it and let it rest.

    Jaine said...

    I respectfully disagree Shadow Wolf, even if Leonard Peltier is never free people should never just accept it and let it rest. I say make as much noise about injustice as possible.

    Anonymous said...

    I'm actually inclined to agree with Shadow Wolf. Look at the West Memphis Three. It was blatantly obvious they didn't kill those three kids. (They only got a confession from the boy who was diagnosed retarded and didn't even know the other two.) Their evidence included an occultist from an unaccredited university saying things like "Satanists wear black" and "the devil writes a 6 as a 3, so the three boys who were killed relates to 666". Seriously. (Numerology is a horrible motif for a criminal. In real life, the Zodiac made it work. In fiction, Ramona's evil exes from Scott Pilgrim made it work. Nobody else has in history. And when you have to, ahem, make stuff up about writing six as a three when it's just easier to say it parodies the Holy Trinity, you've already lost.)

    Much of the rest of the time was spent ass-covering. They'd rather let three boys be executed than admit to being incompetent.

    The FBI's in a similar position. They have no proof Peltier was there, and he has a strong alibi. But who did it? The ones with shiny headgear might say it was the FBI themselves, which would certainly explain their attempts to cover it up. I prefer the old-fashioned explanation of South Dakota, "drunks with guns".

    Rob said...

    You could try calling the White House press office, Lynn.

    I doubt Peltier will ever see the light of day either. Pardoning him would mean freeing someone convicted of murder against the FBI's wishes.

    Presidents are too concerned about politics to take an unpopular stand on issues like this one. Even if Obama pardoned Peltier on his last day in office, his party and his reputation would suffer the political consequences.

    Rob said...

    For more on the subject, see:


    President Obama’s Million-Dollar Native Fund-Raiser

    The eat-and-greet at the Mandarin Oriental hotel, near the Tidal Basin, was cohosted by the Obama campaign and the Native American Leadership Committee. (Since that’s not an official organization, its membership list is not readily available.) ICTMN has confirmed that among the attendees were the Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly; Tunica-Biloxi Chairman Earl Barbry; and Seneca Nation President Robert Odawi Porter. Also in attendance were Democratic National Committee (DNC) Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz; Kimberly Teehee, senior policy advisor for Native American Affairs; and Charles Galbraith, associate director of the Office of Public Engagement. (Not all of the Natives who attended were elected tribal leaders; some were tribal lobbyists.)

    In a telling sign about the current state of American campaign finance, tickets for this event started at $15,000. For $35,800, donors got dinner and a reception with Obama, where they got their picture taken with him. Under campaign finance law, $35,800 was the maximum allowable donation. All proceeds were said to go to the Obama Victory Fund, a joint committee authorized by Obama for America and the DNC.