Election Commission chairman resigns amid controversy

BY WILL CHAVEZ
Senior Reporter
07/05/2011 02:35 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The chairman of the Cherokee Nation Election Commission submitted his resignation letter Tuesday morning, citing that media outlets have given him a negative public perception during the ongoing principal chief election controversy.

Roger L. Johnson tendered his resignation around 6 a.m. It states that his resignation is effective July 5.

In it, Johnson states that the commission is satisfied that it has performed its duties in complete compliance with the statutes and as ordered by the court. However, because of “misinformation, speculation and conclusions,” the general perception is that the EC is “incompetent and ineffective.”

“The perceptions of favoritism, fraud and incompetence resulting from irresponsible and inaccurate media reports subsequent to the unofficial election results announced early Sunday morning and throughout the process have unreasonably damaged my honor, character and integrity. For me to continue as an effective commissioner under these circumstances is impossible,” Johnson states.

Johnson states he trusts the remaining four commissioners and his successor will continue with the election process until it’s complete.

He states the paramount reason for his decision to resign was the “untrue, irresponsible and inaccurate” articles reported by some of the media, especially the Tulsa World.

Johnson states the newspaper published that “the recount changed the result” when it reported the certification of Principal Chief Chad Smith as the winner of the election on July 27. The only official recount that took place occurred by court order on June 30, Johnson states.

He states the Tulsa World also reported in a photo caption for Smith that he was initially declared the winner on June 25 by a margin of fewer than 10 votes.

“Fact, the commission never declared Chief Smith the winner Saturday night or anytime Sunday morning. However, at approximately 7 a.m., Sunday morning we announced unofficially that Mr. Baker was ahead by 11 votes. Obviously the Tulsa World and others don’t understand the meaning of the word unofficial,” Johnson states.

He adds that even though the Tulsa World reported in an article regarding the June 25 election that “counting and recounting” took place during an “all-night session,” there was only one vote count and never a recount of any ballots the night of June 25 or early morning June 26.

“These inaccurate statements by the Tulsa World set in motion the perception of wrongdoing by the election commission,” he states.

In a CN Supreme Court hearing, Johnson states, the EC proved to the court that election documents had been secured by a “chain of custody and not tampered with.”

“The court agreed that the two entries into the vault after lockdown to obtain tabulation information did not compromise the security of the election documents,” he states. “However, during my testimony concerning the vault breaches, it was reported by the Cherokee Phoenix, that I had lied under oath and testified that the vault had not been opened after the initial lockdown. This statement as reported by the Phoenix is absolutely false. It is obvious to me that they made a politically motivated decision to discredit me. And for that, I am crushed.”

In his June 30 testimony before the Supreme Court, Johnson said the ballots were secured in the vault at approximately 7 a.m. Sunday morning and no one had been in the vault.

“We have not been in the vault to observe those ballots or anything. They haven’t been touched,” he told Chief Justice Darell Matlock, according to testimony transcripts.

This statement was used by the Phoenix in its reporting of the hearing and for Johnson’s statement.

During the same hearing, EC Clerk Joyce Gourd testified that the vault had been opened twice after it was reportedly secured on June 26. She testified with the commission’s permission she opened the vault for Terry Rainey of Automated Election Services.

Principal Chief Chad Smith said Johnson’s resignation letter speaks for itself.

“I think he is a man of the highest integrity and best will. But he’s been challenged, and he believes it’s what’s best for the process, for him to step aside,” Smith said.

Principal Chief-elect Bill John Baker said he appreciated Johnson’s service as EC chairman.

“I appreciate him overlooking a recount election that was fair and accurate,” Baker said.

The Tribal Council appointed Johnson to the EC. His term began in March 2008 and was set to expire Oct. 1, 2011. Because the council appointed him, by the tribe’s election law, it must appoint his replacement.

Click here to read Roger Johnson’s resignation letter

Click here to read Roger Johnson’s resignation statement

Click here to read a transcript of the CN Supreme Court hearing

will-chavez@cherokee.org • 918-207-3961

About the Author
Will lives in Tahlequah, Okla., but calls Marble City, Okla., his hometown. He is Cherokee and San Felipe Pueblo and grew up learning the Cherokee language, traditions and culture from his Cherokee mother and family. He also appreciates his father’s Pueblo culture and when possible attends annual traditional dances held on the San Felipe Reservation near Albuquerque, N.M.

He enjoys studying and writing about Cherokee history and culture and writing stories about Cherokee veterans. For Will, the most enjoyable part of writing for the Cherokee Phoenix is having the opportunity to meet Cherokee people from all walks of life.
He earned a mass communications degree in 1993 from Northeastern State University with minors in marketing and psychology. He is a member of the Native American Journalists Association.

Will has worked in the newspaper and public relations field for 20 years. He has performed public relations work for the Cherokee Nation and has been a reporter and a photographer for the Cherokee Phoenix for more than 18 years.
WILL-CHAVEZ@cherokee.org • 918-207-3961
Will lives in Tahlequah, Okla., but calls Marble City, Okla., his hometown. He is Cherokee and San Felipe Pueblo and grew up learning the Cherokee language, traditions and culture from his Cherokee mother and family. He also appreciates his father’s Pueblo culture and when possible attends annual traditional dances held on the San Felipe Reservation near Albuquerque, N.M. He enjoys studying and writing about Cherokee history and culture and writing stories about Cherokee veterans. For Will, the most enjoyable part of writing for the Cherokee Phoenix is having the opportunity to meet Cherokee people from all walks of life. He earned a mass communications degree in 1993 from Northeastern State University with minors in marketing and psychology. He is a member of the Native American Journalists Association. Will has worked in the newspaper and public relations field for 20 years. He has performed public relations work for the Cherokee Nation and has been a reporter and a photographer for the Cherokee Phoenix for more than 18 years.

News

BY JAMI MURPHY
Reporter
04/17/2015 04:30 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – According to campaign disclosure reports released on April 15, Principal Chief Bill John Baker has raised more than $830,000, which is more money than all other candidates combined, including two Tribal Councilors who are no longer campaigning for seats. According to the Cherokee Nation’s Election Commission, the first campaign disclosure report was due April 15. A report consists of a beginning campaign fund balance and ending balance. Also included are contribution amounts, in-kind donations, loans, expenditures and advertising statements. Of those running for principal chief, Baker raised the most with $815,054.77 in monetary donations and $17,262.22 in in-kind donations for at total of $832,316.99. He loaned his campaign $4,220 bringing the balance to $836,536.99. After expenditures, his ending balance was $434,934.41. According to the disclosure reports, all other candidates combined raised $572,488.69. Included in that total is Tribal Councilor Cara Cowan Watts, who campaigned for the principal chief seat but did not file to run, and Tribal Councilor Julia Coates, who the EC and CN Supreme Court ruled ineligible to run for the deputy chief seat because she didn’t meet residency requirements. Former Principal Chief Chad Smith received $92,850 in monetary donations and no in-kind donations. He loaned his campaign $10,072.97 bringing the balance to $103,780. After expenditures his ending balance was $50,120.64. Former CN Community Services Group Leader Charlie Soap raised $30,400 while loaning his campaign $7,565.46, bringing his balance to $37,965.46. After expenditures his ending balance was $24,943.56. State Rep. Will Fourkiller’s contributions totaled $10,800. He loaned his campaign $3,153.67 for a balance of $13,953.67. After expenditures his ending balance was $8,538.49. Cowan Watts raised $71,429 in direct contributions and $8,086.99 in in-kind donations for $79,515.99. She loaned her campaigned $50,013.87, which includes direct expenditures, according to the disclosure report. After expenditures her total came to $23,410.88. Also, according to her report, she returned several contributions. In the deputy chief race, incumbent S. Joe Crittenden raised $77,250 with $10,606.50 in in-kind donations. Crittenden loaned his campaign $2,255 making his total revenues $90,111.50. His ending balance for the campaign was $52,517.92 after expenditures. Tribal Councilor Lee Keener totaled $8,450 in direct contributions with $942.27 in in-kind donations for a total of $9,392.27. He loaned his campaign $1,272. After expenditures, his campaign fund was $6,519.97. Coates raised $10,200 with no loans to the campaign. Her ending campaign balance was $0 after expenditures. The Supreme Court on April 13 affirmed the EC’s ruling that stated Coates did not live within the tribe’s jurisdiction 270 days before the June 27 general election, which is required for a deputy chief candidate. To view any candidate’s disclosure report click the links below. <strong>Principal Chief Candidates</strong> <a href="http://www.cherokeephoenix.org/Docs/2015/4/9179_bjbakerfinancials_addition_april.pdf" target="_blank">Click here to view</a> Bill John Baker's campaign financial disclosure report. <a href="http://www.cherokeephoenix.org/Docs/2015/4/9179_bjbakerfinancials_addition_april.pdf" target="_blank">Click here to view</a> Bill John Baker's campaign financial disclosure report addition. <a href="http://www.cherokeephoenix.org/Docs/2015/4/9179_csmithfinancials_april.pdf" target="_blank">Click here to view</a> Chad Smith's campaign financial disclosure report. <a href="http://www.cherokeephoenix.org/Docs/2015/4/9179_csoapfinancials_april.pdf" target="_blank">Click here to view</a> Charlie Soap's campaign financial disclosure report. <a href="http://www.cherokeephoenix.org/Docs/2015/4/9179_wfourkillerfinancials_april.pdf" target="_blank">Click here to view</a> Will Fourkiller's campaign financial disclosure report. <a href="http://www.cherokeephoenix.org/Docs/2015/4/9179_ccwattsfinancials_april.pdf" target="_blank">Click here to view</a> Cara Cowan Watts' campaign financial disclosure report. <strong>Deputy Chief Candidates</strong> <a href="http://www.cherokeephoenix.org/Docs/2015/4/9179_sjcrittendenfinancials_april.pdf" target="_blank">Click here to view</a> S. Joe Crittenden's campaign financial disclosure report. <a href="http://www.cherokeephoenix.org/Docs/2015/4/9179_lkeenerfinancials_april.pdf" target="_blank">Click here to view</a> Lee Keener's campaign financial disclosure report. <a href="http://www.cherokeephoenix.org/Docs/2015/4/9179_jcoatesfinancials_april.pdf" target="_blank">Click here to view</a> Julia Coates' campaign financial disclosure report. <strong>Tribal Council Candidates</strong> <a href="http://www.cherokeephoenix.org/Docs/2015/4/9179_banglenfinancials_april.pdf" target="_blank">Click here to view</a> Buel Anglen's campaign financial disclosure report. <a href="http://www.cherokeephoenix.org/Docs/2015/4/9179_bberryfinancials_april.pdf" target="_blank">Click here to view</a> Brian Berry's campaign financial disclosure report. <a href="http://www.cherokeephoenix.org/Docs/2015/4/9179_bgirtyfinancials_april.pdf" target="_blank">Click here to view</a> Brandon Girty's campaign financial disclosure report. <a href="http://www.cherokeephoenix.org/Docs/2015/4/9179_bkmccoyfinancials_april.pdf" target="_blank">Click here to view</a> B. Keith McCoy's campaign financial disclosure report. <a href="http://www.cherokeephoenix.org/Docs/2015/4/9179_bmckeefinancials_april.pdf" target="_blank">Click here to view</a> Benjamin McKee's campaign financial disclosure report. <a href="http://www.cherokeephoenix.org/Docs/2015/4/9179_bswimmerfinancials_april.pdf" target="_blank">Click here to view</a> Betsy Swimmer's campaign financial disclosure report. <a href="http://www.cherokeephoenix.org/Docs/2015/4/9179_bwarnerfinancials_april.pdf" target="_blank">Click here to view</a> Bryan Warner's campaign financial disclosure report. <a href="http://www.cherokeephoenix.org/Docs/2015/4/9179_cbunchfinancials_april.pdf" target="_blank">Click here to view</a> Corey Bunch's campaign financial disclosure report. <a href="http://www.cherokeephoenix.org/Docs/2015/4/9179_dlayfinancials_april.pdf" target="_blank">Click here to view</a> Dick Lay's campaign financial disclosure report. <a href="http://www.cherokeephoenix.org/Docs/2015/4/9179_dmatlockfinancials_april.pdf" target="_blank">Click here to view</a> Darell Matlock Jr's campaign financial disclosure report. <a href="http://www.cherokeephoenix.org/Docs/2015/4/9179_dpatzkowskifinancials_april.pdf" target="_blank">Click here to view</a> Dora Patzkowski's campaign financial disclosure report. <a href="http://www.cherokeephoenix.org/Docs/2015/4/9179_dreedfinancials_april.pdf" target="_blank">Click here to view</a> Deb Reed's campaign financial disclosure report. <a href="http://www.cherokeephoenix.org/Docs/2015/4/9179_dwalkingstickfinancials_april.pdf" target="_blank">Click here to view</a> David Walkingstick's campaign financial disclosure report. <a href="http://www.cherokeephoenix.org/Docs/2015/4/9179_kaustinfinancials_april.pdf" target="_blank">Click here to view</a> Keith Austin's campaign financial disclosure report. <a href="http://www.cherokeephoenix.org/Docs/2015/4/9179_khollowayfinancials_april.pdf" target="_blank">Click here to view</a> Kenneth Holloway's campaign financial disclosure report. <a href="http://www.cherokeephoenix.org/Docs/2015/4/9179_kpkilpatrickfinancials_april.pdf" target="_blank">Click here to view</a> Kathy Kilpatrick's campaign financial disclosure report. <a href="http://www.cherokeephoenix.org/Docs/2015/4/9179_lbolinfinancials_april.pdf" target="_blank">Click here to view</a> Linda Bolin's campaign financial disclosure report. <a href="http://www.cherokeephoenix.org/Docs/2015/4/9179_lpritchettfinancials_april.pdf" target="_blank">Click here to view</a> Larry Pritchett's campaign financial disclosure report. <a href="http://www.cherokeephoenix.org/Docs/2015/4/9179_nfullbrightfinancials_april.pdf" target="_blank">Click here to view</a> Natalie Fullbright's campaign financial disclosure report. <a href="http://www.cherokeephoenix.org/Docs/2015/4/9179_pfoxfincancials_april.pdf" target="_blank">Click here to view</a> Pamela Fox's campaign financial disclosure report. <a href="http://www.cherokeephoenix.org/Docs/2015/4/9179_rgofffinancials_april.pdf" target="_blank">Click here to view</a> Ron Goff's campaign financial disclosure report. <a href="http://www.cherokeephoenix.org/Docs/2015/4/9179_rjordanfinancials_april.pdf" target="_blank">Click here to view</a> Rex Jordan's campaign financial disclosure report. <a href="http://www.cherokeephoenix.org/Docs/2015/4/9179_rsierrafinancials_april.pdf" target="_blank">Click here to view</a> Ryan Sierra's campaign financial disclosure report. <a href="http://www.cherokeephoenix.org/Docs/2015/4/9179_scrittendenfinacial_april.pdf" target="_blank">Click here to view</a> Shawn Crittenden's campaign financial disclosure report. <a href="http://www.cherokeephoenix.org/Docs/2015/4/9179_sjettfinancials_april.pdf" target="_blank">Click here to view</a> Shane Jett's campaign financial disclosure report. <a href="http://www.cherokeephoenix.org/Docs/2015/4/9179_tbrownfinancials_april.pdf" target="_blank">Click here to view</a> Trey Brown's campaign financial disclosure report. <a href="http://www.cherokeephoenix.org/Docs/2015/4/9179_tjonesfinancials_april.pdf" target="_blank">Click here to view</a> Thomas Jones' campaign financial disclosure report. <a href="http://www.cherokeephoenix.org/Docs/2015/4/9179_wbpearsonfinancials_april.pdf" target="_blank">Click here to view</a> William Pearson's campaign financial disclosure report. <a href="http://www.cherokeephoenix.org/Docs/2015/4/9179_whatfieldfinancials_april.pdf" target="_blank">Click here to view</a> Wanda Hatfield's campaign financial disclosure report.
BY STAFF REPORTS
04/17/2015 02:00 PM
ROLAND, Okla. – After working at the Cherokee Casino Roland for 25 years, Arvil Norman Wolfe has decided to retire. Hoping for some extra money during the Christmas season, Wolfe went looking for a part-time job in 1990, the same time Cherokee Nation opened the doors to its first casino, Cherokee Bingo Outpost in Roland. “Cherokee Nation put an ad in the Southwest Times Record looking for part-time employees,” Wolfe said. “I applied and was hired immediately.” Wolfe was born in Lees Chapel, a small town on the outskirts of Muldrow. He graduated from Muldrow High School in 1956 and currently resides in Dora, Arkansas, with his wife, Alta. He enjoys his family and fishing for large-mouth crappie and catfish. He decided to retire in April because he celebrates 57 years with his wife. They also share the same wedding anniversary of her parents and her sister. “There has been enormous growth since I’ve been with the company. It’s unbelievable, really,” he said. “At this point in history, the Cherokees are really on the move.” Over the years, he has seen the company transform into an economic engine for the area, hiring thousands of people since he was first hired. Wolfe was an employee in 1997 when $1.2 million was spent for additions and an improved ventilation system. He was also there in 2002 for a remodel and in April 2014 when the tribe broke ground on a new, $80 million casino and hotel. “I would like to thank Arvil for his many years of service to our Roland casino and the Cherokee Nation,” said Shawn Slaton, interim CNB CEO. “Arvil is a stellar employee and a great example to all of us. We will certainly miss him. We wish him the best in his retirement and hope he enjoys it fishing.”
BY STAFF REPORTS
04/17/2015 12:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The Cherokee Nation Election Commission discussed the transportation of ballot boxes on April 14 at the Election Services Office. The EC discussed how it would administer money for gas to individuals who are hired to deliver ballot boxes to each precinct in the jurisdiction. However, the commission wanted more information on credit cards so it tabled discussion until more information was received. The commission voted to approve the precinct official manual with minor cosmetic changes. The manual will dictate the processes used by precinct officials to during the 2015 election. Other action discussed including the approval of past meeting minutes as well as entering into executive session where no action was taken.
BY ASSOCIATED PRESS
04/17/2015 10:00 AM
EDMOND, Okla. (AP) — Chickasaw Nation Gov. Bill Anoatubby (ANNA'-tubby) will be the commencement speaker at the University of Central Oklahoma's spring 2015 ceremony for the College of Education and Professional Studies. The ceremony is scheduled for 3 p.m. May 8 in UCA's Hamilton Field House in Edmond. Anoatubby has served as Chickasaw Nation governor since 1987 and is now in his seventh term in that post.
BY ASSOCIATED PRESS
04/16/2015 02:00 PM
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — The National Park Service has announced a $4.103 grant to the Chickasaw Nation of Oklahoma. The grant announced Wednesday is one of eight awarded nationwide under the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act. The act requires museums and federal agencies to inventory and identify Native American human remains and cultural items in their collections, and to consult with culturally affiliated Indian tribes, Alaska Native villages, and Native Hawaiian organizations regarding repatriation. The grants are to assist in the repatriation of individuals and sacred objects, objects of cultural patrimony and funerary objects back to the tribes and others.
BY WILL CHAVEZ
Senior Reporter
04/16/2015 12:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The 12 Cherokee Nation participants for the 2015 “Remember the Removal” ride were introduced on April 13 during the Tribal Council meeting. This year’s participants are Shawna Harter, 18, Tahlequah; Hailey Seago, 18, Claremore; Caleb Cox, 19, Miami, Oklahoma; Tanner Crow, 19, Tahlequah; Maggie McKinnis, 16, Hulbert; Kayla Davis, 19, Stilwell; Tennessee Loy, 22, Kenwood; Haylee Caviness, 18, Tahlequah; Wrighter Weavel, 19, Tahlequah; Alexis Watt, 21, Afton; Tristan Trumbla, 24, Tahlequah; and Billy Flint, 25, Tahlequah. The cyclists were chosen by a committee and must complete required trainings and history courses from February through May to go on the trip in June. “Remember the Removal” ride coordinator Joseph Erb said the riders are doing well and have been putting in extra training on their bikes in addition to their weekend rides. The group is slowly building up their mileage and will tackle 30-plus miles on April 18-19. Erb said he wants the cyclists to be able to ride at least 70 miles in one day before the group departs in early June. The cyclists and their chaperones will leave Tahlequah on June 3 for Cherokee, North Carolina, where they will join up with seven cyclists from the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. The EBCI has been participating in the ride since 2011. The 19 cyclists will begin making their way to Oklahoma on June 7 from New Echota, Georgia, along the Northern Route of the Trail of Tears and arrive on June 25 in Tahlequah. New Echota served as the tribe’s capital before the forced removal. The CN cyclists have been training since March to be ready for the challenge of riding an average of 60 miles a day during the three-week trip that retraces the Northern Route. This overland route was used by Cherokee detachments that left southeastern Tennessee in the autumn of 1838 and traveled through Kentucky, Illinois, Missouri and Arkansas before reaching Indian Territory in the spring of 1839. Of the estimated 16,000 Cherokees who were forced to make the journey to Indian Territory from southeastern Tennessee and other sites in the old CN, 4,000 died from exposure, starvation and disease. The public may follow this year’s journey on <a href="http://www.facebook.com/removal.ride" target="_blank">www.facebook.com/removal.ride</a>.