Each week, The Hill highlights the top lobbyists on a sector-specific basis through conversations with the major players on K Street, congressional staffers and other Washington insiders.
National Indian Gaming Association: Ernest Stevens, Mark Van Norman
NIGA has represented Indian tribes and businesses engaged in the gaming industry for the past 20 years. Its influence “extends to a lot of issues not related to gaming,” said a tribal lobbyist. “They are the trade association for Indian country.” Another source applauded NIGA’s efforts to strengthen support on the Hill for Indian sovereignty. “They are constantly broadening our circle of friends [even though] they have a tough nut to crack sometimes.”
National Congress of American Indians: Tex Hall, Jacqueline Johnson
Founded in 1944, NCAI is the oldest and largest Indian group in the United States, representing over 250 tribal governments and many individual American Indians. “Indian Country is as diverse as America. It’s a tough job to represent everyone, but they do a good job,” said a source.
Holland & Knight: Gerry Sikorski, Philip Baker-Shenk, Shenan Atcitty
Holland & Knight boasts one of the most extensive Indian lobbying practices of a major U.S. law firm. Former Reps. Gerry Sikorski (D-Minn.) and Tillie Fowler (R-Fla.) handle Indian clients, as do recent additions Philip Baker-Shenk, wooed last year from Dorsey & Whitney, and Aurene Martin, former deputy assistant secretary of the interior for Indian affairs. “The list of folks working for them is very, very distinguished,” said a source.
Hobbs, Straus, Dean & Walker: Jerry Straus
Hobbs Straus is a boutique firm specializing in Indian law and lobbying. Principal Straus focuses on tribes with gaming interests. “They have solid, good people,” a source said. Established in 1982, Hobbs Straus was lobbying “before the big profits, doing it for Indian Country,” said a fellow lobbyist.
Monteau & Peebles: Mike Anderson
Harold Monteau has been “the backbone of Indians’ doing well over the last 50 years,” said a lobbyist, adding that the firm has a lot of heavy hitters. Anderson was Interior Department’s associate solicitor for Indian affairs during six years in the Clinton administration and has held prominent positions with the Senate Indian Affairs Committee and NCAI. “He is well-liked. He has a very good understanding of how Washington works,” another lobbyist said.
Ietan Consulting/Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld: Wilson Pipestem, Larry Rosenthal, Don Pongrace
“They do what they say they’re going to do. They are smart and work hard,” said a fellow lobbyist of Ietan, which has formed a strategic alliance with law firm Akin Gump. Rosenthal was the “worker bee” behind the creation of the congressional Native American caucus, said another source. He later became chief of staff for National Indian Gaming Commission.
Sonosky, Chambers, Sachse, Endreson & Perry: Mary Pavel
Like Hobbs Straus, Sonosky Chambers devotes its practice to Indian issues. Principal Reid Chambers — “the godfather of Indian law,” according to one source — was associate solicitor for Indian affairs at the Interior Department in the 1970s. Pavel focuses on congressional issues.
Navajo Nation: Sharon Clahchischilliage
The Navajos have had the longest presence in Washington of any individual tribe, having established their Washington office in 1984.
Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation: John Guevremont, Daniel Little
The Mashantucket Pequots, who operate the world’s largest resort casino in Mashantucket, Conn., established their Washington office in the mid-’90s and are one of the few tribes with a significant presence in D.C.