"To laugh often and much, to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children, to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends, to appreciate beauty, to find the best in others, to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch... to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded!"
-Ralph Waldo Emerson
ABOUT TOM RODGERS
"Tom is ... the best and foremost Native American advocate, strategist and lobbyist."
Jim Messina, Former Deputy Chief of Staff to President Barack Obama and 2012 Presidential National Campaign Director (March 29, 2013)
Tom successfully waged one the most important Native American Voting Rights efforts of the last fifty years, which will provide Native Americans on remote, poverty-stricken reservations with equal access to voting. The Department of Justice Civil Rights Division, as well as the American Civil Liberties Union and National Congress of American Indians, intervened in this social justice issue on behalf of Native Americans who prevailed in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. Attorney General Eric Holder in June 2014 stated that the Montana native voting rights "conditions are unacceptable and they are outrageous......As a nation, we cannot -- and we will not -- simply stand by as the voices of Native Americans are shut out of the democratic process." In May 2015, U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch transmitted to Vice President Joe Biden and Speaker of the House John Boehner a request in statutory form that the outcome sought in the Wandering Medicine litigation should be enacted into federal law. This was soon followed by introduction of legislation by Senators Jon Tester, Heidi Heitkamp, Tom Udall, and Al Franken. The forgoing federal efforts confirm that the Wandering Medicine litigation, in calling for equal access and equal resources for Native American voting, was the most far-reaching political empowerment of Native Americans since the Indian Citizenship Act of 1924.
Tom Rodgers was the main whistleblower in the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal, which according to the Washington Post was the largest congressional lobbying scandal in the last one hundred years. For his whistleblower efforts, Tom received an honorary Masters Scholar in Ethics award from the University of Denver Law School. He worked with Oscar winning director Alex Gibney and appeared in the documentary "Casino Jack and The United States of Money" released at Sundance Film Festival. University of Denver created the "Tom C. Rodgers O-tee-paym-soo-wuk Ethics in Government Law School Scholarship" in his honor, a full ride $160,000 scholarship awarded to a Native American student seeking to attend law school O-tee-paym-soo-wuk is a Cree Indian word for "a person who owns himself." Tom has supported ten Native American United States Senate internships and recently endowed two additional college scholarships. The foregoing scholarships/internships total approximately $250,000.
As a result of his tax expertise and leadership over the past eighteen years, Tom has secured a net positive tax credit impact specifically for his Native American clients and Indian Country generally in excess of $10 billion.
In 1994, Tom founded Carlyle Consulting, a governmental/media/public relations firm located in Alexandria, Virginia that represents the interests of Native Americans. From 1990 to 1993, Tom served as tax legislative counsel to Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus. Before that, he served as tax counsel to United States Tax Court Judge Marvin F. Peterson. Tom obtained a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Economics, J.D. and L.L.M in Taxation at the University of Denver. He went on to obtain a Masters in International Public Policy with an emphasis in China Studies at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. He also attended the Georgetown University McDonough School of Business Executive MBA program. Tom, an enrolled member of the Blackfeet Nation, has raised over $1.2 million dollars in charity for Native American youth, tribal governments, Native American financial literacy programs, and Native American voting rights efforts. He grew up on the great plains of Eastern Montana and now resides in Alexandria, Virginia.
By virtue of his Jack Abramoff whistleblower effort and Voting Rights litigation leadership, Tom has been interviewed by numerous media outlets. These include the New York Times, Washington Post, the Guardian, USA Today, The Hill, The Huffington Post, BBC, The Nation, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell, The Atlantic, Roll Call, Financial Times, Bloomberg News, Talking Points Memo, Washingtonian, Indian Country Today, Democracy NOW, and the National Press Club. In addition, he has become a nationally-recognized speaker on Native American issues, politics, and ethics. He especially enjoys speaking to high school and college students who are tomorrow's leaders.
"Tom is ... the best and foremost Native American advocate, strategist and lobbyist."
Jim Messina (March 29, 2013). Former Deputy Chief of Staff to President Barack Obama and 2012 Presidential National Campaign Director
"... [Tom] has demonstrated great skill in maneuvering my tax proposals through the legislative process (many of them were included in the Revenue Act of 1992). In fact, when the Tax Foundation honored me as "Tax Policymaker of the Year" in 1991 I considered it in large part a tribute to Tom's work."
Senator Max Baucus (1992). Now U.S. Ambassador to China, was the second longest serving Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee and the longest serving member of that committee in United States history. In 2014, he also praised Tom's national Native American Get out The Vote efforts.
"To Tom: A man who always steers away from the dark side"
Alex Gibney (January 2010). Oscar winning documentary director and producer
"... As I graduate this May. I wanted to thank you again for everything that you've done and for setting up this scholarship. Words cannot describe my deep appreciation. Without this scholarship I could not have attended DU and would have been unable to experience the numerous opportunities that came with it. Thank you so much again, this was a once in a lifetime opportunity and I am incredibly fortunate to have been given this honor."
Kyle Montour (March 19, 2015). Mohawk tribal member and recipient of the Tom C. Rodgers University of Denver Ethics in Government Law School Scholarship
"Dear Alumni and Friends: Professionalism is like mom and apple pie: Everyone is for it, but actually doing it - and doing it well - is not easy. Lawyers are regularly confronted with difficult ethical issues. Often no one other then the lawyer ever learns of the resolution of these difficult issues. Such is not the case, however, with Tom Rodgers (JD '86, LLM '88). In this issue, you will learn about how Tom responded to a difficult situation, and how he courageously chose to follow his conscience even though that decision was likely to cost him much. In doing so, Tom exemplified the very highest ideals of professionalism as a lawyer."
Dean Jose R. Juarez, Jr. University of Denver Sturm College of Law (2009). Forward to alumni magazine with cover story about Tom's role in exposing Jack Abramoff.
Native American Poverty by Tom Rodgers
A Challenge Too Often Ignored
“To be a poor man is hard, but to be a poor race in a
land of dollars is the very bottom of hardships.”
– W.E.B. Du Bois
No discussion of poverty, and of the need to renew
opportunity in America, can be complete without a
frank consideration of the situation faced by Native
Americans. With a worsening economy, the inevitable
churn of holiday stories about the least fortunate, and a
new Administration, now is the right time for meaningful
action to address poverty in Native American
Three Native American legislative amendments were passed out of Committee, September 2005:
1. Subjecting the NIGC to Government Performance
Results Act (GPRA);
2. Including Native American Tribes as the
equivalent of state and local governments for the purposes of
the Endangered Species Act (which passed out of Committee yesterday);
3. Section 101 of the Indian Technical Corrections
With all of the above items I have conceived the concept, built and directed the coalition to convince the public-policy makers, and have had the concept included in a Committee Markup Bill. As a result, these concepts are included as part of the respective Committee Chairman's bill.
I have also conceived and I am currently leading, a coalition to have a Native American Tax-Exempt Bond hearing in the US Senate Finance Committee.
I feel these accomplishments point to my ability to conceive an idea and build a coalition, which results in becoming a part of the Chairman's bill.
I am very proud of my accomplishments for the first session of the 109th Congress. I am even more proud that one of the amendments I did completely pro bono.
I was able to raise over $200,000 for a Native American Tribe to assist them after their Reservation was severely damaged by Hurricane Rita.