Rep. Raul Grijalva has gotten into a spat with a lobbyist that mocked a tribal chief Grijalva has known since high school -- one that's attempting to open up a casino in Phoenix.
The trouble seems to stem from a bill supported by the Gila River tribe and their lobbyists, which would ultimately prevent the Tohono O'odham tribe from opening a third casino in the Phoenix area.
Grijalva, a close friend of Ned Norris, the chairman of the Tohono O’odham tribe, is strongly opposed to a bill offered by Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) that would bar the casino from being opened. Franks introduced a similar bill in the House during the last Congress. The measure was adopted by the House but later died in the Senate.
During a May 16 hearing in a Natural Resources subcommittee, Norris testified in opposition to the latest version of the Franks bill.
As Norris was testifying, James Meggesto [a lobbyist for the Gila River tribe] sent out this tweet: “Resisting urge to tweet about a pair of high school buddies, one is lying under oath and the other is on the dais enabling him #Indianlands.”
Meggesto’s tweet, without mentioning them by name, was clearly referring to Grijalva and Norris.
Grijalva was outraged by Meggesto’s tweet — since deleted — and has sought a public apology, so far to no avail.
Now Grijalva — whose leadership PAC received a $5,000 contribution from the Tohono O’odham tribe in August 2012 — wants Reps. Doc Hastings (R-Wash.) and Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.), the chairman and ranking member of Natural Resources, to act.
“I take the accusations of perjury very seriously, [and] I formally ask the committee to request that Mr. Meggesto or his employer present evidence of false statements made under oath. Absent evidence or proof, I request a formal apology to Chairman Norris,” Grijalva said in his letter to Hastings and DeFazio. “Organizations with business before Congress must conduct themselves in a professional manner and understand that slander — no matter the means of communication — will not be tolerated.”