86. Jeff Grubbe
In 2012, Jeff Grubbe was elected chairman of the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians, a tribe of just under 500 members that owns several casinos and resorts on 32,000 acres of land in and around Palm Springs. The tribe and its assets are one of the region’s biggest economic drivers, with huge impacts in the Coachella Valley. In Sacramento, Grubbe is seen as one of the key players in the fight over legalizing online gaming, and, generally, as an increasingly prominent leader in Indian Country. Nationally, Native American leaders have been watching Grubbe’s legal battle with two local water districts over groundwater rights. In March of this year, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the tribe has federally-extended groundwater rights dating back to the creation of the reservation in the 1870s. In July, the agencies (the Coachella Valley Water District and the Desert Water Agency) appealed the decision to the Supreme Court, which has not yet said whether it will take the case.
Updated August 29, 2017