BREAKING: David Stewart out as CNB CEO
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Cherokee Nation Businesses and its CEO, David Stewart, have come to an agreement of mutual separation that will pay him $2.6 million.
According to a CNB press release, the amount of compensation was reached after a review of Stewart’s agreements with the previous chief and the former CNB board of directors.
“Attorneys for the Nation and for CNB determined that the new board is contractually obligated to pay the former CEO $2,675,000,” CNB board Chairman Sam Hart said. “The CNB board of directors is obligated to honor the agreements made by the previous board which was appointed by the former chief, Chad Smith. In the future, we will be more prudent with the Cherokee people’s money while maximizing the investments in our personnel and our businesses.”
CNB officials said a search for a new CEO would begin immediately.
In an April 27 phone interview, Stewart said he and CNB officials agreed to terms that ended his tenure as CEO of CNB, Cherokee Nation Entertainment and Cherokee Nation Industries.
“We have come to an agreement, but those are the only details available at this time,” he said.
Stewart said the agreement provides for a seven-day waiting period for either party to make changes as necessary.
On March 2, the CNB board of directors placed Stewart on a 30-day administrative leave. That leave was extended on April 2 for a week and again on April 13 and April 20.
In Stewart’s absence, CNE Executive Vice President Shawn Slaton has acted as interim CNB CEO.
Tribal officials said Stewart was supposed to receive full pay and benefits for the duration of his administrative leave or until Stewart left the company. As part of his leave, Stewart had to refrain from conducting business for CNB or any Cherokee Nation-owned subsidy.
According to his CNB biography, Stewart began his career with the Cherokee Nation in 2001 when he was named CEO of Cherokee Nation Industries. In 2002, he became CEO of Cherokee Nation Enterprises, now Cherokee Nation Entertainment.
According to the bio, under Stewart’s leadership CNE experienced tremendous growth, including the construction of Oklahoma’s first resort gaming destination. The bio also states that Stewart was a lead negotiator for the state-tribal gaming compact, which allows for Class III or compact gaming for Oklahoma’s Indian tribes.
He took over as CNB CEO after former CEO Brad Carson stepped down in December 2008. All of the tribe’s business entities, including CNI and CNE, operate under CNB.