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Advisor for Strategic Communication and Outreach/ Acting Director of Communications

John Bockmier is serving as the Senior Advisor for Strategic Communication and Outreach/Acting Director for Communications at the U.S. Department of the Interior. He has been in this position since November 13, 2017.

John Bockmier is from Washington State, and has worked as a lobbyist at the state and county level, serving as a consultant to clients including cardrooms through his company, Shamrock 51 Productions. Bockmier fought against the creation of a tribal casino on behalf of his clients, who owned non-tribal cardrooms, lobbying the County Commissioners and even saying “the solution was for the [Cowlitz] tribe to establish a reservation somewhere else.” Bockmier tried to influence Associate Deputy Secretary for the Interior Department James Cason on the issue; at the time, Cason was the person in charge of deciding “if the Cowlitz Tribe’s casino plan receives federal approval.” As recently as November 19, 2017, Bockmier was described as a representative of La Center’s cardrooms.

Sources: [News Release, Vermont Law School, 06/26/18, List of All Political Appointees, Department of the Interior, accessed 08/06/18, John Bockmier, ProPublica’s TrumpTown, accessed 08/06/18, Adam Littman, “What’s in the cards for La Center?,” The Columbian, 11/19/17; Michael Anderson, “It can pay to have … FRIENDS in HIGH PLACES,” The Columbian, 06/01/08, “About,” Shamrock 51 Productions, accessed 07/30/18, VIRGINIA ‘GIN’ EMILY DEBOER WORLEY, 79, The Coeur d’Alene Press, 03/06/15; Margaret Ellis, “Cowlitz Tribe previews reservation plans in ad; Site near La Center would be 152 acresThe Columbian, 02/17/04]

Background Information

Previous Employers

Additional Background on Employers of Note:

In his former job as a consultant for non-tribal cardrooms in Washington state, John Bockmier spoke out against the creation of a tribal casino.

John Bockmier was a Washington state lobbyist starting in 1998, and a county-level consultant starting in 2003, mostly on behalf of La Center, Washington’s, then-four cardrooms. The cardrooms included Last Frontier, New Phoenix, the Palace and Chips. As of 2008, Bockmier had been lobbying in Clark County for 5 years. [Michael Anderson, “It can pay to have … FRIENDS in HIGH PLACES,” The Columbian, 06/01/08]

John Bockmier, in his job as a consultant for the cardrooms, spoke out against the proposed casino by the Cowlitz Tribe. The Columbian reported, “an Indian casino probably would hurt business at La Center’s four cardrooms, which are the city’s main source of tax revenue.” [Margaret Ellis, “Residents vow casino fight,” The Columbian, 02/17/04]

Bockmier, in his opposition to a tribal casino, said that “the solution was for the [Cowlitz] tribe to establish a reservation somewhere else.”

After the Cowlitz Tribe released a preview of its reservation plans with a hotel and casino, Bockmier spoke out against the plans. Bockmier, who was a consultant for local cardooms, compared the tribal casinos allowing higher betting limits and machine  games: “look at their ability and resources to offer what the cardrooms can’t. Of course they’re concerned.” The article continued, “Bockmier said the solution was for the tribe to establish a reservation somewhere else.” [Margaret Ellis, “Cowlitz Tribe previews reservation plans in ad; Site near La Center would be 152 acresThe Columbian, 02/17/04]

Bockmier “personally” gave a report regarding a proposed casino to Interior Associate Deputy Secretary, James Cason. Bockmier declined to reveal the cost of study.

The cardrooms of La Center issued a study, prepared by ECONWest of Portland, on the effects of the Cowlitz Tribe building a smaller casino on an alternate site. When asked about the cost, Bockmier declined to reveal the amount. In 2006, “Bockmier said he personally gave the report to James Cason, the associate deputy secretary for the Interior Department and the man who will decide if the Cowlitz Tribe’s casino plan receives federal approval.” The Columbian later reported Bockmier “said he believes the ECONorthwest report will have influence with federal officials.”[Jeffrey Mize, “Rivals suggest new site for casino; Cardroom owners: Put it farther north,” The Columbian, 03/11/06, Jeffrey Mize, “Casino foes say cardroom-funded report backs Vader site,” The Columbian, 11/17/07]

Released e-mail messages revealed Bockmier was in close contact with La Center City Council officials regarding the proposed Cowlitz Tribe casino. He referred Councilman Troy Van Dinter as “‘Brother Troy or Brother Love’” and also wrote he was “‘blessed to have you in my corner.’”

La Center Councilman Troy Van Dinter and John Bockmier were revealed to have a chummy friendship where Bockmier referred to Van Dinter in some messages as “Brother Troy” or “Brother Love and wrote he was “‘blessed to have you in my corner.’” Bockmier had written letters for the city council to review for consideration to send to the federal government and also shared some of the card room owners’ legal strategy with Van Dinter. When Van Dinter wrote in frustration about the situation, Bockmier responded with a reference to the 1970’s TV show Kung Fu by responding, “‘you have snatched the pebble from my hand grasshopper. And now you are ready to begin your journey.’”

When asked about his emails, Bockmier responded: “‘Part of my job is to communicate with elected officials on behalf of my clients. I don’t feel uncomfortable about any of my actions in any way…Troy is my friend…Calling him Brother Love and doing the grasshopper stuff, that’s just me being me.’” [Jeffrey Mize, “Officials, cardrooms working together;  E-mails reveal depth of animosity toward casino plan,” The Columbian, 06/06/06]

The two men and their families regularly communicate via social media. [Facebook Post by Kris Bockmier, 12/02/14, accessed 07/24/18, Troy Van Dinter, National Psoriasis Foundation, accessed 07/24/18, Facebook Post by John Mullowney Bockmier, 08/17/14, accessed 07/24/18]

Bockmier’s company, Shamrock 51 Productions, is listed as having donated $100 to Van Dinter in 2011.

[Search for Shamrock 51 Productions, Public Disclosure Commission, accessed 7/26/18]

Bockmier appeared on Clark County Commissioners’ “schedules 37 times in 2007, almost twice as often as anyone else.” Bockmier made a $200 political donation to a Clark County Commissioner with whom he reportedly met with 19 times.

Bockmier appeared in a report about lobbyists who appeared before Clark County Commissioners and what their roles were. According to The Columbian, Bockmier appeared on their “schedules 37 times, almost twice as often as anyone else,” including 18 with Commissioner Marcus Boldt and 19 with Steven Stuart. The Columbian reported, “donations to commissioner races since 2000: $200 to Stuart…” According to Washington State’s Public Disclosure Commission, Bockmier also donated to $100 Stuart in 2010. Bockmier donated to Boldt in 2008, 2012 and 2015 for $100 in each instance. Bockmier’s company Shamrock 51 Productions is listed as having donated $100 to Boldt in 2012.  His conversations involved discussing a proposed casino outside La Center, which his clients opposed.

The Columbian reported Bockmier, along with other lobbyists, met with commissioners 19 times in 2007 before a state board rejected the 2004 county-Cowlitz Tribe deal on June 22, 2007, which would have provided public services to the casino in exchange for a share of the casino’s revenue. According to the board, there had not been enough public airing before the county signed the deal. The Columbian reported such a deal would make federal officials more likely to approve the casino.

Bockmier, representing La Center’s cardrooms, met with Clark County Commissioners Marc Boldt and Steve Stewart within a week. Over the rest of the year he, and two other lobbyists who worked for the Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde, who were owners of the rival Spirit Mountain Casino, appeared on the schedules of the Stuart and Boldt 34 more times. [Michael Anderson, “It can pay to have … FRIENDS in HIGH PLACES,” The Columbian, 06/01/08, Michael Andersen, “Friends in High Places – Effort to thwart casino near La Center keeps lobbyists busy,” The Columbian, 06/01/08, Search for John Bockmier, Public Disclosure Commission, accessed 07/26/18, Search for Shamrock 51 Productions, Public Disclosure Commission, accessed 07/26/18]

The Cowlitz Tribe’s casino broke ground in February of 2016. Bockmier still called for the casino to be built elsewhere.

The Cowlitz Tribe’s casino broke ground in February of 2016; the project was still in litigation at the time of the groundbreaking. Some of the concerns cited by the opponents of the casino included the wastewater treatment plant and disposal system. Tribal Chairman William Iyall said that they would meet all the environmental protection requirements and that “we’re going to build a better community for everyone at this junction, and that will be in spite of what the cardrooms are doing,” Bockmier responded “’This isn’t an effort to stall their project. This is an effort to see that the project is built in another location where it would be more appropriate. That’s been our stance for 15 years.’” [Marissa Luck, “COWLITZ CASINO RISES” The Daily News, 02/16/16]  

A local newspaper called Bockmier one of the “‘big five’ lobbyists of Clark County government.”

In an opinion column in the The Columbian called Bockmier one of the “big five lobbyists” and noted he represented the La Center cardrooms, who did not want to see a tribal casino in the county.  The column continued, “in 2007, Bockmier’s name appeared on the commissioners’ schedules 37 times, but he isn’t saying what he said to them.” [Editorial Board, “In our view: Illuminate Lobbyists [Opinion],” The Columbian, 06/06/08]

Current Activity

Bockmier is listed on Director of Intergovernmental and External Affairs Todd Wynn’s calendar for a meet and greet video call on December 1, 2017 with Steve Wachowski, Senior Advisor to the Secretary of Alaska. [Todd Wynn October-December 2017 Calendar, accessed 07/25/18]

Financials

According to ProPublica, Bockmier’s salary at Shamrock 51 Productions prior to his employment at the Department of Interior was $120,865.

The cardrooms Bockmier represented as a lobbyist in Washington included Last Frontier, New Phoenix, the Palace and Chips. According to ProPublica, he received compensation from M.T. & M Gaming and Michel’s Development.

According to the Vigilant database, Bockmier received compensation from Jimmy G’s Casino ($3,500.01 in 2002, $7,000.02 in 2003), the Entertainment Industry Coalition ($8,866 in 2002), Schwabe Williamson & Wyatt PC ($$7,187.50 in 2007, $1,120 in 2008), and Steve Michels ($1,500 in 2006, $2,000 in 2007).

ProPublica lists Bockmier’s job as “Senior Advisor for Strategic Communication and Outreach” with a salary of $112,021.

[Michael Anderson, “It can pay to have … FRIENDS in HIGH PLACES,” The Columbian, 06/1/08, John Bockmier, ProPublica, accessed 07/30/18, Search for John Bockmier, Vigilant database, accessed 07/26/18, LinkedIn Profile for Kris Bockmier, accessed 07/30/18]

Other Information

John Bockmier testified in Oregon regarding a bill on “social games.”

On March 29th, 2017, Bockmier submitted testimony the Oregon House Business & Labor Committee regarding HB2190, which would allow cities and counties to authorize social games only if they are operated and controlled by charitable, fraternal or religious organizations. Bockmier said that he was testifying after his clients indicated interest in opening a poker room in Oregon but had concerns regarding the lack of regulations. Bockmier said he and his clients “are in strong support of this bill.” [HB 2190 Staff Measure Summary, Oregon Legislative Assembly, accessed 7/30/18, John Bockmier, Testimony in Support of HB 2190, 03/29/18, accessed 07/30/18]

John Bockmier cited minimum wage increase and rising healthcare costs as reasons for cardroom closure.

The Chips Casino in La Center, WA closed in January 2014, less than three weeks after the implementation of the state’s 13-cents-per-hour minimum wage increase. According to Bockmier, operating costs had gone up because most of the former employees were being paid minimum wage. Bockmier also cited the increase in healthcare for employees. [Tyler Graf, “La Center cardroom Chips Casino closes”, The Columbian, 01/14/14]

Bockmier refused to reveal his hourly pay as a lobbyist.

When profiled in a 2008 article about his work as a lobbyist, Bockmier declined to reveal his hourly pay: “Hourly rate: Won’t say.” [Michael Anderson, “It can pay to have … FRIENDS in HIGH PLACES,” The Columbian, 06/01/08]

John Bockmier and Department of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke posed for a photo with former Las Vegas City Council member Michele Fiore.

Michele Fiore is a controversial figure who has discussed her desire to shoot Syrian refugees.

[Lee S. Gliddon Jr, “LAS VEGAS – CITY COUNCILWOMAN MICHELE FIORE NOTIFIES OF 03/07/2017 MEETING AND OF EASTER EGG HUNT,” Conservative Patriot blog, (03/8/18), accessed 7/25/18, Scott Lucas, “Michele Fiore says she wants to shoot Syrian refugees,” Las Vegas Sun, (12/7/15), accessed 07/25/18]

John Bockmier has “liked” Milo Yiannopoulos. 

[Facebook Profile Likes for John Bockmier, accessed 07/24/18]

He also liked a Department of Interior editorial by Ryan Zinke on “America First” energy policy.

[Facebook Profile Likes for John Bockmier, accessed 07/24/18]

According to the Washington Secretary of State’s Corporations and Charities Division, a John Bockmier is the registered agent to a “Lunar Media, LLC.”

The business’s status had been inactive since October 1, 2008. [Lunar Media LLC, Washington Secretary of State, accessed 07/30/18]