The Gila River Indian Community, an Arizona tribe that operates casinos near Phoenix wants to stop another tribe from opening a rival enterprise. So Gila River mobilized its lobbyists at Washington’s biggest firm.
The community paid Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld $2.3 million for federal lobbying so far this year. As a Gila-backed bill moved through the committee process in the House, the Tohono O’odham Nation bolstered its own K Street presence, nearly doubling the amount spent on federal lobbying, which is about $2 million so far this year. The pricey skirmish between the two Arizona tribes offers proof that a decade-old scandal that rocked K Street, Capitol Hill and Indian country did not ruin the lucrative business of representing Native American tribes.