An Oklahoma construction company owner told Congress Wednesday he paid thousands of dollars in bribes to Indian housing officials in order to get multimillion-dollar contracts on Shawnee and Chickasaw reservations.
Kraig Kendall, president of K&T Homes Inc., said he tried to get housing contacts through straightforward competitive bidding but was unsuccessful until he began buying gifts and giving cash to housing authority officials and tribal chiefs.Kendall's testimony came on the third day of hearings before a special panel of the Senate Select Committee on Indian Affairs investigating contract fraud and other alleged corruption on reservations and among those doing business with Indians.
"Initially, I wined and dined them and gave them small presents like turkeys and hams," Kendall said of his experience with officials of the Shawnee housing authority.
Later, he said, he offered the chairman of the authority tickets to University of Oklahoma football games and was persuaded by him to do the same for the chairman of the tribe.
After sending the two to the Orange Bowl with about $500 in cash and paid hotel reservations, Kendall said he received a contract for a 50-unit housing project.
Kendall described similar dealings with housing and tribal officials of the Chickasaw nation, saying he paid $94,000 on phony invoices from the tribal governor's construction supply manufacturing company in order to get $14 million in contracts.
Kendall said his way of doing business is standard procedure among contractors working on Indian reservations.
He also said that in order to participate in bidding for the contracts he made an employee's wife who had an Indian relative in her ancestry a 51 percent owner of his company.
"She was a housewife," he said. He said she never participated in company business except to sign papers when necessary.
On Tuesday, Gevene Savala, a Kaibab Paiute Indian from Arizona, told the panel she was made president and invested her life savings in a road construction company run by her Mexican-American husband who funneled his business to a larger non-Indian firm.
Now her company, Savala Asphalt and Construction Enterprises Inc., has lost the support of the backer, and she and her husband are trying to recover her $90,000 and keep their company alive on its own.