Tribe Returns Burns Earmark:


The Saginaw Chippewa tribe that benefited from a $3 million earmark written by Sen. Conrad Burns (R-MT) will return the money to the government and ask that it be distributed to other tribes in the wake of revelations that the earmark may have been generated through a corrupt process involving Jack Abramoff. The Washington Post reports,

"After careful consideration, our tribal council has decided not to move forward with the construction of the school, because it is not financially prudent to pursue this project at this time," tribal officials wrote in a letter yesterday to Burns and other lawmakers. They asked that Congress use the money to offset some of the cuts in the BIA’s budget.

Burns has said he sought the grant because he is interested in improving conditions on Indian reservations. A spokesman for his office had no immediate comment on the tribe’s decision.

Abramoff’s lobbying team had strong ties to Burns’s staff. One appropriations aide went back and forth between jobs on Burns’s staff and Abramoff’s team. Another Burns appropriations staffer and Burns’s chief of staff were treated to a trip to the 2001 Super Bowl in Florida on a corporate jet leased by SunCruz, a Florida casino cruise line then owned by Abramoff and several partners.