Potawatomi spent $200,000 lobbying in D.C.

Madison, Wisconsin (AP) 9-07

The Forest County Potawatomi spent about $200,000 lobbying in Washington, D.C., during the first half of the year, according to federal reports.

The tribe lobbied the president’s office, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, both houses of Congress and the Department of the Interior. The tribe’s issues included land in trust, air quality, tribal economic development and gaming reform.

The Potawatomi are locked in a struggle with the Menominee, a rival Wisconsin tribe working to build a new off-reservation casino in Kenosha.

The Potawatomi already operate a casino in nearby Milwaukee. The Menominee have accused the Potawatomi of trying to stymie their efforts and preserve a gambling monopoly in southeastern Wisconsin.

Menominee spokesman Evan Zeppos issued a statement calling the Potawatomi’s lobbying effort “disappointing.”

“Potawatomi’s leaders have shown they’ll stop at nothing to sidestep competition, and this is yet another example of how desperate they are to keep hold of their monopoly,” Zeppos said in the statement.

Potawatomi spokesman Ken Walsh countered the tribe didn’t spend all its lobbying dollars on blocking the Kenosha casino. The Potawatomi are working on multiple issues in Washington, including tribal health care and education, the environment and gambling, many of which benefit all Wisconsin tribes, he said.