By Albert Samaha
By Amanda Dingyuan
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By Anna Merlan
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"It knocked Martin out," recalls Wayne Smith, the former deputy assistant secretary at BIA who recalls McCaleb attributing the letter to Stone (McCaleb abruptly terminated a Voice interview). The letter reinforced the irony of Stone's role in the BIA transition, as he and Trump had just been fined $250,000 in October by the New York State Lobbying Commission for Trump's secret funding of Stone-directed ads blasted by tribal leaders as "racist." Tying a tribe proposing a casino that would've competed with Trump's Jersey empire to "drug trafficking, money laundering, the mob, violence, and the smuggling of illegal immigrants," the ads featured pictures of cocaine lines and drug needles.
Beyond McCaleb, Stone and Reed pushed other top Bush gaming appointments. "If you are lucky," says Stone, suggesting he was, "a transition team will sift through a thousand résumés for mid- to low-level positions." Stone acknowledges a role in eventually installing Chuck Choney on the three-member National Indian Gaming Commission, while Reed and partner John Fluharty urged the hiring of Aurene Martin, who got the No. 3 job at BIA. Interior general counsel William Myers, a former law partner and a friend of Sansonetti now up for a federal appeals judgeship, hardly needed much help from Stone. But Stone told clients like Russell Pratt, the president of Buena Vista's development company at the time, that he aided Myers's appointment and had "easy access" to him. Stone now says he meant access through Sansonetti and Myers's ex-firm.
BIA's Smith claims that McCaleb told him when he started in September 2001 that Reed was "very important to the White House." McCaleb gave Smith a short list of insiders and lobbyists, including Reed, that he said Smith should "talk to and make sure they don't get upset with you." Smith wound up doing a half-dozen lunches with Reed, who pressed him on behalf of Buena Vista. Smith said his top aide, Aurene Martin, "always dealt with Reed's partner, Fluharty" and "urged me to be helpful to him." So did Jennifer Farley, who oversaw BIA matters in the White House and knew Reed and Fluharty from the Dole campaign, where she worked as a press aide. Smith says Farley and Martin openly championed the same position as Reed on Buena Vista. Martin even met at BIA with Fluharty, Pratt, and the Buena Vista tribal leader, Donna Marie Potts, to hear their case, a morning meeting that followed a strategy session the night before in Stone's Washington office.
When Smith was forced out in a June 2002 swirl of controversy, Martin became deputy, even moving up temporarily to McCaleb's job after his December departure. Coming to BIA from Colorado senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell's Indian Affairs Committee staff, where Stone has long had well-placed contacts, Martin has been the only fixture at BIA in the first Bush term. At a September 2002 hearing of Campbell's committee, for example, she made no attempt to defend a decision Smith made against Buena Vista, paving the way for a Stone-conceived corrections bill that passed in 2004 and re-establishes Stone's tribal chief.
IT'S OUR TURN
Smith recalls that at his first lunch with Reed, in the fall of 2001, Reed told him that Democrats had been "making money off of Indian gaming for too long" and "ran this place," referring to BIA. Calling the business "very lucrative" and pointing out that it could lead to major GOP contributions, "Reed said it was 'our turn,' " Smith recalls. "He talked to me as if I worked for him." Smith says Farley had already called him about Fluharty and said she was "sending over a friend to meet me," which Smith did, recalling that Farley had said much the same when she "called over urging that Martin be interviewed" for a top post. While Fluharty would not answer most Voice questions, he denied the Reed quotes and the Farley introduction.
Stone, who never contacted Smith, obviously saw the same opportunities, becoming a "casino developer," as he called himself in a recent deposition, after a California referendum boosting Indian gaming passed in March 2000. He began madly chasing cross-country deals that fall, at the same time that he played his Winnebago Warrior role in Miami-Dade and joined the transition. From November 12 to November 14, he picked up the tab at the Hyatt in San Francisco, where he entertained one wing of the Ione tribal war, Nick and Joan Villa, and signed an exclusive agreement with them. In the same time frame, he was entertaining the rival Mississippi group led by Willard Smith, bringing them to Jersey for hard-boiled negotiations about Ione and five other tribes, and signing deals with them.
Stone's sidekicks in both negotiations were Hersh Kozlov and Al Luciani, who worked for billionaire Carl Icahn, the owner of the Luciani-run Sands in Atlantic City. Luciani, who is now listed in Stone's prospectus as part of his team, recalls that these early conversations with Stone "started in the later part of 2000, got serious in February of 2001," and abruptly ended when Icahn "lost his enthusiasm because all of Roger's tribes were landless." But Luciani remembers Stone "telling me about his role in the Bush transition and saying that he knew Cheney," leaving the impression that he had "played a role in placing people at BIA."