Tribe settles federal lawsuit
Polk County Enterprise, May 2007
LIVINGSTON – The Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas announced Tuesday that the tribe’s federal lawsuit against disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff was settled with his former employer, the law firm of Greenberg Traurig. Financial terms of the settlement are confidential.
Jo Ann Battise, tribal chairperson, said she and the rest of the Tribal Council are pleased with the settlement. “We are satisfied with the settlement and we are pleased to have the Abramoff matter resolved,” Battise said. “We are now focused on restoring our right to game so that we may create employment and business opportunities for us and our neighbors in the surrounding region.” Battise added that she believed that the Greenberg Traurig firm acted honorably in settling with her tribe.
The tribe is working hard in Austin and Washington, D.C. to fix the damage done by Abramoff, she said. Tribal officials believe that only with a legislative fix allowing the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe to have the same gaming opportunities as the Texas Kickapoo Tribe in Eagle Pass and as all other tribes around the country, can the tribe have a true remedy.
On July 12, 2006, the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe filed suit in the Federal District Court in Austin against Abramoff, Jon van Horne, Neil Volz, Michael Scanlon and Ralph Reed. Like Abramoff, van Horne and Volz worked at Greenberg Traurig. The suit alleged that Abramoff and others conspired to defraud Native American tribal governments and, in that effort, engaged in improper lobbying efforts to prevent the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe from gaming on its reservation near Livingston.
As a result of the settlement, the case against Abramoff, van Horne and Volz has been settled. In addition, the lawsuit as to Scanlon was dismissed by the tribe. Further, the tribe dismissed its lawsuit against Reed and he provided no financial payment to the tribe.