Walkingstick probe turned over to EC for disqualification consideration

05/10/2019 10:30 AM
TAHLEQUAH — Results of a tribal investigation into a Cherokee Nation chief candidate’s campaign were turned over to the Election Commission for consideration May 9.

The probe, conducted by the CN attorney general’s office with help from the Marshal Service, was sparked by citizen complaints lodged in April against principal chief hopeful David Walkingstick, the current Dist. 3 tribal councilor. The original complaints, filed by Chelsea Huber and Elizabeth Stroud, alleged that Walkingstick and his campaign offered to hide donations, omitted donations and in-kind expenses from financial reports, promised CN positions in exchange for support and more.

The election commission planned a special meeting May 10 to decide whether a hearing was justified in the case.

In a lengthy investigative memorandum, Attorney General Todd Hembree dispelled an allegation that Walkingstick told a Housing Authority employee he would promote her and remove her supervisor. Hembree also indicated he could not confirm a claim that Walkingstick promised someone a spot on the CNB board of directors in exchange for support.

The memo addresses a claim that Walkingstick used campaign donations to cover the cost of the candidate-filing fee.

“David Walkingstick did pay his filing fee of $2,500 out of his campaign funds,” the memo states. “The law excludes such payment from allowable campaign expenditures. The Election Commission should determine what action, if any, to take …”

Also addressed were claims that Walkingstick had not listed all monetary or in-kind donations, which included costs associated with campaign signs.

“David Walkingstick has indicated in his written response to the Election Commission that he will review and amend any errors in his previous financial disclosures,” the AG’s memo states.

In response to a complaint that Walkingstick failed to report production costs for five “high quality” promotional videos. Hembree wrote, “Luke Harshaw, Walkingstick campaign employee, stated that the videos were filmed by someone named Reagan from Chickasha, OK, and that payment would be included on the next financial disclosure report.”

Hembree’s memo also addressed Walkingstick’s alleged association with a limited liability company called “Cherokees for Change” that was recently ordered by the EC to stop contributing to the Walkingstick-Meredith Frailey campaign for principal and deputy chief.

Under a heading labeled “Walkingstick’s Involvement in ‘Cherokees for Change,’ LLC Fundraising,” the memo states that on Feb. 28, Walkingstick used his Cherokee Nation cell phone to place a 32-minute call to Cherokee Nation Businesses Board Member Shaun Shepherd.

“On that call, Walkingstick asked Shaun Shepherd for a $5,000 contribution to his campaign,” the memo states. “When Shepherd refused and stated he was supporting Walkingstick’s opponent, Walkingstick told Shepherd he could ‘make a cash contribution and remain anonymous and that no one had to know but he and I.’”

The memo cites two other alleged instances in which citizens were told they could make anonymous donations via “Cherokees for Change.”

Hembree concluded that Walkingstick’s conduct relating to Cherokees for Change subjected him to possible disqualification from the race by the Election Commission. (See also: UPDATED: CN LLC ordered to nix campaign donations)

Click here to view the investigation documents.
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