ProPublica is the latest national media outlet to take a close look at Alaska Native corporations' receipt of 8(a) federal contracting benefits and the allegedly paltry benefits their shareholders have gained from massive no-bid deals. The main story focuses on the Ketchikan-based Cape Fox Corp.
Perhaps nowhere have the abuses been more startling than in Saxman, where the Cape Fox Corporation represents 300 Tlingit natives. While other ANCs have been taken advantage of by one consultant or in a single subsidiary, lawsuits, investigations and audits allege fraud and self-dealing in five of the seven companies Cape Fox had in the program.
Cape Fox's experience shows how outsiders can easily co-opt the privileges afforded to ANCs, siphoning off large sums from taxpayer-funded contracts for themselves. The Natives had almost no involvement or oversight of the companies. And when they went to regulators seeking help, they were turned away, told that the law didn't allow the agencies to intervene.
An accompanying ProPublica piece describes how Alaska Native corporation revenues have grown quickly while most Native shareholders received less than $500 a year in dividends. The package also includes a collection of ANC annual reports, a chart detailing basic financials of 24 ANCs and a response from the Native American Contractors Association.
The NACA also released a shorter response for general press release here.
ADN's rural blog breaks out ProPublica's dividend numbers for a list of Native corporations paying the highest dividends to shareholders.
The Washington Post also recently published an extensive look at ANC contracting and benefits to shareholders.