No. 80: Capitol Weekly’s Top 100

80. Jeff Grubbe

Six years ago, 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. It is a powerful, affluent tribe and its assets are one of the region’s biggest economic drivers, with big impacts in the Coachella Valley. In Sacramento, Grubbe is seen as a key tribal player and 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. Last year, the 9th 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. And in November, the U.S. Supreme Court decined to hear the case, which means Agua Caliente’s groundwater rights will stand.

Updated August 15, 2018

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