Courtesy Flickr/Center for American Progress Action Fund/Ralph Alswang
Keith Harper

Keith Harper, Cobell Lawyer, Bundled at Least $500,000 for Obama's Re-Election

Rob Capriccioso


Keith Harper, one of the principal lawyers who negotiated the $3.4 billion Cobell settlement with the Obama administration, has been listed by the Obama-Biden campaign as one of the top voluntary campaign finance bundlers for the president’s successful re-election in 2012.

Harper is part of a list of what the Center for Responsive Politics calls “758 elites” who directed “at least $180,100,000 for Obama's re-election efforts—money that has gone into the coffers of his campaign as well as the Democratic National Committee,” according to

Harper is listed as a bundler of “$500,000 or more.” The donations he collected are largely believed to have come from wealthy tribal donors, as he oversaw multiple Indian donor events during the 2012 election season, while also working for Indian interests in the Cobell settlement with the federal government, which was first announced in December 2009 and became final after appeals from four Indians drew to a close late last year.

Harper’s bundling effort matched the contributions of such notables as actor Will Smith, actress Jada Pinkett-Smith, actress Eva Longoria, filmmaker Tyler Perry, singer Gwen Stefani, and producer Harvey Weinstein.

The Center for Responsive Politics also indicates that Harper personally contributed $2,500.

Obama's re-election campaign voluntarily released its latest batch of bundler data in early March. The campaign for failed Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has not disclosed its complete list of bundlers, and has not said it will.

Harper is a partner with Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton. Beyond the Cobell case, the firm has also represented several tribes in separate multi-million dollar trust settlements with the Obama administration.

The Cherokee lawyer has been a principal in the ongoing Cobell litigation since he worked for the Native American Rights Fund (NARF) in the 1990s. Harper left NARF in 2006 to work for Kilpatrick Stockton.

As the Cobell settlement payment process to individual Indians continues to take place over this year, lawyers with NARF are currently battling Kilpatrick Stockton and other lawyers involved in the case for a share of the approximately $100 million designated for lawyers involved with the litigation. A hearing on the lawyers’ fees is scheduled to take place March 18 in Judge Thomas Hogan’s U.S. district courtroom in Washington, D.C.

March 1 was the deadline for Indian class members to have submitted their applications to receive the second payments of the Cobell settlement, the trust administration class payments. Most Indian beneficiaries in the case will receive less than $2,000.

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Two Bears Growling's picture
Two Bears Growling
Submitted by Two Bears Growling on
Doesn't that make you sick! The lawyers in this historic case are fighting over their share of $100 million, yet most of our peoples are getting less than $2,000. Something wrong with our slice of the pie! Anytime lawyers & government officials are involved in something you can bet someone is about to get screwed & it isn't going to be them. So guess who is going to get screwed? All the rest of us! Greed! Doesn't it just make you ill at all the greed we read about in this day & age.

SD grouch's picture
SD grouch
Submitted by SD grouch on
Boy, I wonder wouldn't it have been nice if Mr. Harper and/or his firm expended as much energy collecting donations for whose less fortunate Anitsagli residing in Eucha, Kenwood, or anywhere else in OK? Sure Mr. Harper has some rationalization for this, that allows him to submit his billable hours to his firm's Native clients, and goes home to his home in his upscale neighborhood. He is just another in a long line of sell-outs who will have to answer to a higher power than the DNC or senior partners for what he has done or not done in this life.

candyo's picture
Submitted by candyo on
I have been in contact with Keith Harper since the beginning of the Cobell vs DOI and after the death of my father I called his office at Stockton to help with my fathers probate and they told me to people at Holland and Knight and a Cherokee Native Robert Barton helped me write the appeal to the Indian Court of Appeals. Then, when the case was about to be heard they dropped my case and said I had a small window of time to find another attorney and present my case to the courts. It was a complicated case because my mother lied to the courts and said she did not give birth to me when I had my original birth certificate and documents to prove it. She said she was not married to my father at the time of my birth when I had the marriage license and she said she never divorced him before she started living with another man. He had joined the Navy and I assumed she just did'nt want the responsibility of another child. The Judge was biased in the case because he knew my mothers family which that was the first time in my life seeing my mother, brother, sisters and cousins. He gave my brother who was only a year older full majority of my fathers probate and I was left out. We had the same parents, same grandparents. It was not fair since I was his blood relative. I am of the same Tribe, my children are of the same Tribe. I Know about the AIPRO rules, however, when someone dies without a will and a blood relative like a daughter by blood comes forward then they should be treated the same as any other child by blood. I don't think Native Americans are given the same consideration that other children not of tribal affiliation is given. That is a shame...

Phil Stago's picture
Phil Stago
Submitted by Phil Stago on
I support NARF for questioning Keith Harper and his law-firm. Something is not right here, $500 million donated to Obama's campaign and to DNC. Are we headed for another scandal and another Indian-Disgrace? Every time you put "Indians" in charge of something this big, they "screw" it up!

Jay Daniels's picture
Jay Daniels
Submitted by Jay Daniels on
I keep telling everyone that these folks weren't as great as Indian Country holds them up to be. Sen. Mccain offered $8 bil to to settle. How much was the final settlement? I will probably get in trouble for saying this, but....

Gerald Warner's picture
Gerald Warner
Submitted by Gerald Warner on
I have many concerns about this. First off the Cobell lawsuit was filed under NARF office not Stockton and Kilpatrick law office. Mr Harper left Narf and join Stockton and Kilpatrick and took the Cobell case with him. This sounds suspicious as legal firms rarely give up cases especially the largest lawsuit against this country. Then soon after John Ecohawk gets hired by Obama to be second in command at DOI??VERY SUSPICIOUS!!! It looks like getting your enemies closer!!! Then Harper gets donations from all he has contacted through the Tribes and some are leaders of their Tribes. It was announced that these certain leaders of these Tribes gave money like it was OK with the members they did such giving. Mr Ecohawk did leave the position just a few months after getting hired. The posting of all 4 appeals personal contact information online was also from Harpers office giving out home addresses and all cell phone and landline phone numbers for anyone to contact at all times day or night. The amount of money the Natives received will be about $0.02 cents per day for over 125 years of this governments trust obligations mishandling on purpose these poorest people in this countries land and money.