Republican Revenge

I have been impressed by one thing. Gullett and Lodge have revealed themselves to be twin studies in arrogance and overconfidence. Gullett is so closely connected to the power structure that her presence continues to raise eyebrows. Her husband, Wes Gullett, is Republican Senator John McCain's chief administrative assistant. By prosecuting MacDonald, Pamela Gullett is doing what she perceives to be God's work. The Republican hierarchy in Arizona, led for more than 30 years by the sainted Barry Goldwater, has been out to destroy MacDonald since 1974. In that year, the former tribal chairman delivered 9,006 of the 10,274 votes cast on the Navajo reservation to Democrat Raul Castro. You can sense how MacDonald had energized his followers by one statistic. In 1970, only one voter had shown up at a precinct called Hardrock. In 1974, 336 voters showed up to cast their votes against the Republicans at Hardrock.

The big turnout made Democrat Castro the governor. But Castro won that election by a mere 4,113 votes. More importantly, it made Goldwater and the Republicans realize that MacDonald had the power to control a close statewide election. Such a man was dangerous to the Republican party. He had to be removed from his post as tribal chairman.

Goldwater, never one to worry about shading the truth, charged that the Navajo vote turned against him because MacDonald promised his followers free beer.

In truth, the Navajos were voting against the Republicans for the most natural of reasons. Goldwater had sided publicly with the Hopis in the great land dispute between the two tribes.

I sit there in court and my eyes wander from the film. I glance over at MacDonald. What must he think about all this? He must realize he has been had. He is under a court order not to speak to the press, so I can only surmise.

It has been an incredible game of hardball for him. Make no mistake. He was targeted. All the heavy-duty resources of the federal government were set in motion against him.

The report of the Senate investigating committee hearings held in 1989 reveals the extent to which the feds were out to get MacDonald.

Chairman and co-chairman of the committee were Arizona senators Dennis DeConcini and McCain.

Appointed as chief counsel was Kenneth Ballen, who was counsel to the House Iran-contra Committee. Backing him was a full staff of lawyers.

The chief investigator was Richard Elroy, who was chosen by the director of the FBI because he was one of the most outstanding agents. Elroy was assisted by the IRS investigator who was responsible for the Spiro Agnew case. In addition there were Native American experts, petroleum experts and scholars with experience in Native American law. In the report, it is revealed:

"At one point, it was brought to the attention of the Special Committee that Chairman MacDonald might be planning a cover-up to obstruct the investigation. The businessman who was to participate in this cover-up agreed to be wired and placed under surveillance by Special Committee investigators while speaking to Chairman MacDonald. "On at least ten different occasions between November 1988 and January 1989, in cooperation with duly authorized law enforcement officials, the committee taped conversations with the businessman, Byron T. 'Bud' Brown, Chairman MacDonald and his son, Peter MacDonald Jr., in cars, restaurants, airports and over the phone. Portions of these taped conversations were later played during the Committee's public hearings."

Bud Brown is the government's key witness. For years this Scottsdale businessman had been dreaming of making a big score. For years he had been a trusted friend of MacDonald's.

It was Bud Brown who took MacDonald on a vacation to Hawaii, shortly after MacDonald was reelected tribal chairman in 1986. While on the golf course there, Brown pitched the idea that the Navajos should purchase the 491,000-acre Big Boquillas ranch near Seligman.

The purchase made sense for the Navajos, because they were constantly being threatened with expulsion from their present land by the Hopis.

The scheme called for Brown and another businessman, Tom Tracy, to buy the ranch from the Tenneco Company for $26.2 million and then resell it to the Navajos the following day for a $7 million profit. The purchase price for the Navajos was $33.4 million. What Brown never told MacDonald was that Brown was getting a $4 million profit. What did MacDonald get? Although it was rumored he made millions, he was, as usual, in debt. He asked Brown to send him $25,000 to pay down a $70,000 bank loan he had taken out. He also wanted a BMW 735i automobile. He trusted Brown to pay him his full share later.

Instead of buying a new BMW as promised, Brown and Tracy leased one for MacDonald that was already a year old. Each month MacDonald had to call and remind them to make the $800 payment on the lease.

When the feds came to Brown, he caved in at once and agreed to wear a wire against MacDonald. And Brown was shrewd enough to get not only immunity from prosecution but a promise from the government that it wouldn't try to take away his $4 million profit from the land sale.

The government even forced MacDonald's son, Peter Jr., to testify against him.

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