In the close hard fought Massachusetts Congressional Senate battle between Democrat Elizabeth Warren and incumbent Republican Scott Brown an issue raised by Scott Brown has proven to be a real head scratcher to those political pundits that do not normally concern themselves with Massachusetts politics. Since I live in Massachusetts and consider myself an amateur political pundit I decided to attempt to contribute to the edification of other political junkies like myself concerning Scott Brown’s singular campaign issue against Elizabeth Warren (other than the fact that she is a nationally known Democrat). In the interest of completeness I will initially layout the details behind Scott Brown’s allegations and his dogged insistence that “Professor Warren checked the box!” Immediately following this description I will attempt to connect the Brown campaign attack theme to its intended audience of targeted voters. Lastly I will render my opinion as to which power group may also be very interested in the euphemistic aspects of the Brown campaign charges. This all continues below the orange squiggle.
Scott Brown actually started leveling questions about Elizabeth Warren’s American ancestry back in April of this year. At that time Warren was not the official Democratic candidate for U.S. Senator, but was acknowledged as the leading contender for the position. Back over a decade when many American Colleges and Universities were actively seeking to increase diversity in their respective faculties Elizabeth Warren had listed herself as a Native American minority on federal forms filed by the University of Pennsylvania and Harvard University where she worked. Scott Brown seized on this information and accused Warren of using her “checked off” claim that she was Native American to help her obtain her academic positions at these prestigious schools. He challenged Warren to “release her personnel records” to prove that her claim of Native American heritage had played no role in her getting jobs. Warren has thus far refused to release these records and has repeatedly pointed out that Professor Charles Fried, former solicitor general in the Reagan administration who sat on the committee that recruited Warren for her Harvard position has stated that he was unaware of her ancestry when she was hired. During the debates Brown went even further by implying that Warren’s claim of Native American ancestry was a complete falsehood. This accusation he made in distinctly crude fashion by implying that Native Americans were “people of color and look at her”. So the question why is Scott Brown attempting to make these “Native American” claims by Warren central to his campaign?
Someone said a long time ago if you are confused by the motives of someone in a situation, you can generally find the answer if you look for the money. Currently there is one big issue that ties the categories of Native Americans and Casinos together in Massachusetts, and that issue is big and it is money. Currently there are two federally recognized Native American Indian tribes in Massachusetts, namely the Mashpee and the Aquinnah (Gay Head –Vineyard) Wampanoag Tribes. Now I should mention that the federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) allows a casino to be built by any federally recognized with sovereign land located in a state that allows casino gambling. Governor Deval Patrick has stated that he doesn’t believe that the market in Massachusetts can sustain more than three casinos spread out across the state, so currently the battle is on for who will secure the right to own one of these three casinos.
Needless to say many none Indian interests have been vying for a shot at this future casino business. One such interest KG Urban filed a lawsuit last November in U.S. District Court claiming that a section in the state gaming law that gives American Indian tribes first rights to a casino license in Southeastern Massachusetts is “racial-based” and unconstitutional, violating state and federal equal protection acts. (See the Vineyard Gazette Archived Edition: Friday, September 14, 2012)
Here is a thumbnail sketch of KG Urban Enterprises. KG’s two principals are James Kuhn and Barry Gosin. Mr. Kuhn is President of Newmark Knight Frank, and Mr. Gosin has served as CEO of Newmark Knight Frank. Mr. Gosin and his partners have acquired over 10 million square feet of commercial and residential properties throughout New York City and its surrounding areas. Mr. Gosin purchased the historic but shuttered old Bethlehem steel works in Bethlehem Pennsylvania in 2004. Mr. Gosin later partnered in a joint venture with Las Vegas Sands to convert the old steel mill property into a unique mixed use casino, hotel, and retail property. KG plans to build a casino resort in New Bedford Massachusetts on the site of the 160,000 square foot vintage power station which has been left contaminated with hazardous materials.
Without diving into the legal complexities of the current Southeastern Massachusetts Native American Tribal situation I can generalize the status of the Mashpee and the Aquinnah Tribes as follows. The Mashpee have been granted state approval to operate a sovereign casino in Taunton and now are seeking the necessary authority from the federal Department of Interior (DOI) and its Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA). The BIA must approve the Tribe’s compact with Massachusetts by October 15 and the DOI must agree to take the Tribe’s Taunton land into trust. (One of KG’s arguments is that a 2009 Supreme Court decision prevents the DOI from taking any land into trust for any American Indian tribe recognized by the federal government after 1934. The Mashpee were formally recognized in 2007.)
The Vineyard Wampanoags on the other hand claims that it is the only tribe that can take advantage of the state law because it already holds land in trust. The Tribe also claims that the federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act supersedes the state law.
From the brief legal highlights above all three parties (KG Urban, the Mashpee, and the Vineyard Aquinnah Tribes) are all now locked in an intensely complex court case the detailed particulars of which are far beyond the scope of this discussion.
In consideration of the potentially huge financial payoff from any casino located in the Southeastern part of Massachusetts it is little wonder that many residents in and around locations associated with the respective three competitors for the one casino license are intensely interested in the outcome. Many future businesses and job opportunities definitely hang in the balance depending upon which entity secures final approval to build the Southeastern casino, and it is to those voters that Scott Brown’s campaign charges of “Native American preference” is directed in the form of a none too subtle euphemism.
The following is my opinion which I will explore as a means to connect the dots in determining the rationale behind Scott Brown’s Native American attacks on Elizabeth Warren. As I indicated above there are many non-tribal folk following this current casino battle for the Southeastern region of Massachusetts. Among this population of voters there exists a smoldering level of racialist driven resentment against people in these locations who identify and live as members of the once powerful Wampanoag Indian Nation. Over the years I have heard many comments by white residents who live in the mid-cape cod areas disparaging various members of the Mashpee Indians using the usual derogatory remarks. I will paraphrase what many of these middle class white residents are actually thinking. “They especially find it galling when they consider that they have worked hard all their lives to scratch out a living, and then these lazy Indians strike it rich by getting a special government entitlement just because they are supposed to be American Indians.” Most of these white residents are Democrats but Scott Brown through his “Native American check off box” allegation against Elizabeth Warren is sending out a “racial dog whistle” for those disgruntled Democrats resentful over this contentious casino battle.
Deep down most of these white residents would feel very comfortable if KG Urban’s New Bedford property received state approval for the Southeastern casino license. It is simply the probability that the Southeastern casino will be owned by an Indian Tribe that feeds their resentment, and Scott Brown hopes to turn that resentment into split-ticket votes.
There is just one more set of dots that should be connected. Within his brief term in the U.S. Senate thus far Scott Brown has become a close reliable associate of the Wall Street financial interests. His legislative record demonstrates his work in the Senate on behalf of these interests. Another unique fact appears to tie Scott Brown closely to Wall Street. This is the very public endorsement of Scott Brown’s Senatorial campaign earlier this year by none other than Michael Bloomberg the billionaire Mayor of New York city. (Ref: Michael Levenson staff writer for the Boston Globe, July 27,2012.) The cover for the Bloomberg endorsement was Brown's opposition to the National Right-to-carry Reciprocity (gun) Act. Bloomberg acknowledged that Elizabeth Warren is a much stronger NRA and GOAL opponent, but he gave the lame excuse that he likes to support legislators who vote rather than challengers who promise more. I can’t remember a time when the Mayor of one of America’s largest cities politically endorsed a virtual stranger for the office of U.S. Senator in another geographically disconnected state. In my opinion these two facts pretty much connect Scott Brown to Wall Street interests.
The other dot of interest is the KG Urban Enterprises and their New Bedford Cannon Street Station Casino Resort. This is a four year development plan the success of which is dependent upon KG Urban Enterprises securing a gaming license from the state. When these two dots are put in close proximity a logical affinity begins to emerge. The question then becomes is there a connection between Scott Brown and KG Urban in particular respective of the critically important Massachusetts gaming license? If one assumes that such a connection exists, a re-elected Scott Brown could prove to be a powerful agent for the KG Urban interests in particular as an important influence on the DOI and the BIA federal agencies in Washington D.C.
Wrapping up this discussion I hope that this exposition will help to shed some light upon Scott Brown’s apparent obsession with his political quest to determine the validity of Elizabeth Warren’s “Native American” status. This quest is also sustaining his continuous accusations that she improperly used her “Native American” status to obtain her faculty position at Harvard University. The wide spread public echo chamber provided by the Main Stream Media broadcasting and re-broadcasting Scott Brown’s rather silly “Native American” allegations against Elizabeth Warren have by design a far more pernicious purpose; namely to stir up and stoke white resentment against (what they feel is undeserved) Wampanoag Tribal ownership of a huge business enterprise like a casino resort. Scott Brown is counting on the heavy press coverage of his campaign’s “undeserving Native American entitlement” mantra to effectively turn into votes for him cast by perturbed middle-class white Democrat voters in the Southeastern Massachusetts area.
Scott Brown’s repeated use of the salutation “Professor Warren” when speaking of Elizabeth Warren during their first debate just slightly veils his personal contempt for her actual academic status as a law professor at the prestigious Harvard Law School. However this form of immature behavior is typical in many common people when confronted with a level of personal achievement which produces an introspective awareness that it is on a level that is very much unachievable for them.