Southern Brooklyn

Kruger Continues Push For Tobacco Taxes On Indian Lands

Gay rights advocates are outing Kruger, alleging he is a closeted homosexual.
Courtesy of NYS Senate

State Senator Carl Kruger has launched a fresh salvo in the battle to collect taxes from tobacco sales on Native American reservations, this time firing off a letter to a judge presiding over a case in which the legality of the collection is being evaluated.

State Sen. Carl Kruger, D-Brooklyn, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, contends that the lawsuits filed by Native American retailers have no basis in law and are needlessly adding to New York’s already troubling budget deficit.

Kruger, a long-standing champion of the state’s efforts to collect taxes from Indian retailers for their sales of cigarettes to non-Indians, added his voice to the debate as part of a letter to U.S. District Judge Richard J. Arcara, one of the judges overseeing the tax case.

“No matter how they twist the facts, the facts are the facts,” Kruger said of the Senecas and other upstate tribes during an interview with The Buffalo News.

A Seneca Nation leader responded by suggesting that Kruger’s comments are part of a larger effort to make Indians the “scapegoats for decades of mismanagement in Albany.”

“I guess we are waving the flag if that means exerting and protecting our sovereignty,” said Tribal Council Chairman Richard Nephew.

Kruger’s letter came to light during a federal court session in which Arcara indicated he would extend his temporary restraining order against the collection of the taxes until after a hearing next week.

The senator has been the most vocal champion of collecting these taxes, most notably when he put forth an alternative budget proposal amidst political stalemate in November. At the time, Kruger said collecting taxes on reservations would add $1.6 billion a year, a number criticized by state agencies as being vastly inflated.

“If people smoked that much there would be a big black cloud over the City of New York that would blot out the sun,” Budget Division spokesman Matt Anderson told the Times-Union.

Governor Paterson, though, is concerned about a violent reaction from tribes if the state attempts to enforce the legislation. Similar enforcement battles in 1992 and 1997 included violence such as tire burnings and confrontations between State Police and and tribal members. Late last year, it was estimated that a showdown of that sort would cost $2 million daily.

Comment policy


  1. They think they can bully the public. These taxes are out of control. IF the taxes were ata normal level, most people buying cigatettes on the reservation would buy them taxed.
    The beer tax is tiny. Talk about getting people crazy. The state/city do not want the alcoholics stirred up. Drunk driving v/s lung cancer. Another problem not solved.

  2. Yes, but how much time can be used fighting for this very impotant cause for the community ?
    Please substitute , wasted for used and important for important.

  3. Agree 100% with Lisanne. When Ny state and City raised the taxes through the roof on cigarettes, bootlegging and Indian cigarettes filling the demand was inevitable. Sensible voices told the government this would happen and that tax revenue would fall; the Nurse Bloombergs in NY refused to listen. These imbeciles assumed smokers would simply pay higher taxes rather than seek cheaper alternatives. Cigarettes,while dangerous and deadly,are still a legal product. Even more laughable is the pols assumed the tax increases would fund anti-smoking and health care programs. Instead the tax revenues have dropped and bootleggers and the Native Americans pay nothing. Remains utterly lost on stupid pols like Kruger and Bloomberg that “the power to tax is the power to destroy” wasn’t a bumpersticker, but why this country was founded.

  4. A reasonable tax would generate income for the state and federal government and not lead people to seek ways to avoid paying any taxes on tobacco products. (Though it appears that now the Native Americans are charging federal taxes-I suspect that some that revenue is actually being returned to the tribes in some fashion)

    This just seems to me part of the state’s attempt to nullify many of the early treaties signed with the various tribes. Some of the conditions actually prove beneficial to the surrounding communities but create limitations on the exercise of eminent domain within non-reservation tribal owned lands. Such lands are owned by private individuals but are out of the jurisdiction of the State of New York. So they need permission to run a highway through that area. Such conditions give the tribes leverage, which the state does not like.

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