Hunter representative defends vote on cost, transparency issues
August 3, 2010 (San Diego’s East County) – Ray Lutz, Democratic candidate for the 52nd Congressional district, slammed incumbent Rep. Duncan D. Hunter (R-El Cajon) for voting against the Tribal Law and Order Act HR 725), calling it a “vote protecting rapists.” President Barack Obama signed the bill into law on July 30, as ECM previously reported.
The measure allows tribal councils to prosecute criminals including rape victims when the defendant is an outsider and the U.S. Department of Justice has declined to prosecute. A study by Amnesty International found that one in three Native American women is raped during her lifetime; 86% of those rapes are committed by non-native men, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.
“Sharing data with tribal governments when the Justice Department declines to prosecute may help us solve open cases that occur on tribal land, and that makes sense,” Lutz stated in a press release.
Lutz, whose grandmother was Cherokee and who is a member of the Native American Caucus of the California State Democratic Party, applauded passage of the bill and praised San Diego’s four other four Congressional representatives (Republicans Brian Bilbray and Darrell Issa, as well as Democrats Susan Davis and Bob Filner) who all voted in favor of the bill.
“After witnessing the horrible crimes against Chelsea King and Amber Dubois close to home, it’s very sad to see Hunter siding with rapists and criminals,” Lutz said.
Hunter was among 92 legislators who voted against the bill. The measure initially passed the House of Representatives by voice vote on January 19 before going to the Senate, where it underwent major changes.
“It’s a good bill that affords more tribal law enforcement and protection for tribal members,” Viejas spokesman Robert Scheid told East County Magazine. The bill’s impact in California would be more limited than in some areas, however, since California law allows the state to prosecute for crimes on tribal lands if the federal government does not. “We also have excellent relationships with law enforcement including the Sheriff,” Scheid said, but added that the measure provides important options for tribes everywhere to protect tribal members should other law enforcement authorities fail to do so.
Asked why Rep. Hunter voted against the bill, spokesman Joe Kasper said Hunter supported the initial version, which passed the House unanimously. That version was only 10 pages with no cost. “It’s purpose was to address counterfeit arts and crafts wrongfully marketed as Indian-made products,” Kasper said in an e-mail to East County Magazine today.
The Senate added the law and order provisions to protect women tribal members and allow prosecution of criminals by tribal councils, while also retaining the protections against counterfeit products.
“Congressman Hunter did not feel comfortable voting in favor of a bill without Congress first identifying the best procedures and resources to prevent, investigate and prosecute crimes on Indian reservations. It would have been more appropriate, particularly in the interest of transparency and proper deliberation, to examine the Senate amendments, accept or make changes to those amendments, and then proceed to a vote by the full House.”
According to Kasper, Hunter had another “perhaps even bigger problem with the bill.” He explained, “We frequently hear from San Diegans that they are tired of the lack kof oversight and backroom deals within Congress. Congressman Hunter shares that same frustration and while he believes the issue at hand merited action, the Congressman could not bring himself around to supporting a bill that circumvented the oversight function and, once considered by the Senate, included over 90 pages of additional text and authorized over $1 billion in spending.”