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Gover Favorite For Bureau Of Indian Affairs

A New Mexico lawyer and lobbyist for Indian gambling is President Clinton’s pick to head the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the White House said Thursday.

If confirmed as the Interior Department’s assistant secretary for Indian affairs, Kevin Gover, 42, of Albuquerque, would replace Ada Deer, who resigned in January but has continued in an acting capacity during the search for a successor.

Gover is a member of the Pawnee tribe and has raised campaign funds in the past for Clinton. Gover, long considered a likely candidate for the Indian Affairs job, said he’s ready for the challenge.

But, he said, “It’s a job where you just can’t please everybody. If you do something, you’re disappointing somebody else.”

With a $1.6 billion budget, the bureau provides services to tribes such as education, law enforcement and social programs and is a major employer on many reservations.

Congressional investigators have long considered the bureau among the worst-run government agencies. Interior is being sued over the bureau’s decades-long mismanagement of thousands of Indian trust-fund accounts.

Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt said Thursday the bureau’s leader will need consensus-building skills and “the ability to understand both the complex workings of Congress and this department’s workings with tribal governments.”