Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Mashantucket Pequot Member Recently Nominated For Federal Gaming Commission Under Media Scrutiny

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This installment of The Tribes In The Media is an ABC News item on the politically-charged writings that some are attributing to Daniel Little, the Mashantucket Pequot member who was recently nominated to the powerful National Indian Gaming Commission. We hope that Little can overcome this obstacle to his nomination.

Did Obama Administration Appointee Slam Obama Online?
ABC News
April 1, 2010

ABC News' Rick Klein reports: In the comments section of media Websites, "djlndc" has cut quite a swath.

On a Washington Post blog, djlndc wrote last February, "the leftist media [are] covering for Obama -- just like during the campaign."

At Newsweek.com last July, a commenter with the same handle sounded off on “the thieves in the White House and Congress stealing all the wealth from the producers and bankrupting this country for future generations.”

Last March, djlndc accused the “leftist editors” of the Las Vegas Sun of removing some of his postings: “They are a bunch of Democrats that love Obama and didn't report the truth during the election. Why would I think they would report the truth now? Everyone should thank Obama and the Sun editors for all the lost revenue Vegas has seen due to the lost convention business. Pathetic!”

The comments are rather typical for anyone who’s spent any time perusing reader commentary on blogs covering politics and government.

But there’s evidence to suggest that this is not your typical commenter.

Last month, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced his intent to nominate Daniel J. Little for a seat on the three-person National Indian Gaming Commission. The post, which does not require Senate approval, has to be filled by a Republican because the other two slots on the commission are filled by Democrats.

Little is a Republican. He is manager of national governmental affairs for the Mashantucket Pequot Tribe -- which runs the massive Foxwoods Resort Casino in Connecticut -- and has been active in Washington circles of Indian gaming for years.

Little is also fond of the online handle “djlndc” -- his initials, “DJL,” followed by “n” -- as in “in” -- “DC.” Until recently, his Twitter account was @djlndc; it was taken down after Salazar announced he would nominate him for the commission post, but a cached version remained available online as recently as earlier this week.

Websites including GMTruckclub.com, Riderforums.com, Flyertalk.com, Topix.com, and Usaviation.com all have “djlndc” users registered, with profiles or comments that match at least portions of Little’s name or hometown.

Little did not respond to several requests for comment. A Department of Interior spokesperson said he would not be available to comment because his nomination is still pending.

But the Interior spokesperson, Kendra Barkoff, released this statement: “Mr. Little has no recollection of making these statements and does not believe that he did.”

Though Salazar announced his intent to nominate Little in the Federal Register on Feb. 25, he actually has not formally named him to the post, a three-year appointment with the quasi-independent regulatory agency that pays $145,700 per year.

Public input on the nomination was open until March 29, so Salazar is now free to make his selection formal. An Interior official said public comments are now being reviewed, and nomination papers have not yet been signed.

The Federal Register notice praises Little’s background in Indian affairs: “This experience has given Mr. Little a thorough knowledge of the laws and regulations governing Class II and Class III gaming and casinos. By virtue of his work on gaming issues and his extensive knowledge of relevant laws and regulations, Daniel J. Little is eminently qualified to serve as a member of the National Indian Gaming Commission,” Deputy Secretary David J. Hayes wrote.

It’s not clear how Salazar became aware of Little, and Interior official declined to comment on the selection process. Two veteran lobbyists on Indian affairs issues said the Obama administration asked lobbyists and others involved in Indian gaming in Washington for names of possible Republican picks for the commission, and that Little’s name came up in those discussions.

Phil Baker-Shenk, a partner in the Indian Law Practice Group at Holland & Knight, said Little’s professional background is roughly comparable to that of previous nominees for the post.

“He has a good reputation. I’m not surprised by it,” he said.

Steven Andrew Light, co-director of the Institute for the Study of Tribal Gaming Law and Policy at the University of North Dakota, said Little brings an “extensive resume” to the job. He noted, however, that most commission members in recent years have law degrees, while Little does not.

“What Little brings to the table is the practical experience that he has,” Light said. “He comes from a tribe where the experiences he had come at a high level.”