Election Commission sets hearing on possible infractions by Hatfield
TAHLEQUAH – The Cherokee Nation Election Commission on April 11 scheduled a hearing concerning possible violations of tribal campaign law by At-Large Tribal Councilor Wanda Hatfield.
The special meeting is set for 9 a.m. on April 18 at the Election Commission Office. EC attorney Harvey Chaffin suggested the early start, saying the hearing could last several hours.
Commissioners also ordered notice of the hearing be sent to Hatfield by the end of the day on April 11.
A social media account recently posted documentation suggesting impropriety by Hatfield, who is running against four challengers in the June 1 general election.
CN citizens have claimed that Hatfield included notes asking voters for support in CN envelopes along with grant checks appropriated to at-large tribal organizations. Photocopies were posted on Facebook of a $500 check issued to the Mount Hood Cherokees of Salem, Oregon, a tribal envelope postmarked March 26 in Oklahoma City, a Hatfield campaign flier, a Hatfield business card and a handwritten letter.
On April 3, Hatfield issued a statement in which she acknowledged sending checks and campaign materials.
“Late last month I sent grant checks earmarked for scholarships to a few At Large Cherokee Community organizations in Cherokee Nation envelopes,” Hatfield said. “In some of those envelopes, I included a campaign walk card with a personal note. I mailed that correspondence from my home and personally paid for the postage, which is commonplace for me to do.”
In the statement, Hatfield suggested she was unaware that her actions could be in violation of tribal campaign law, and apologized to any affected organizations.
“While I took this action without any intention of impropriety, I now understand the unfortunate and unacceptable appearance I have given,” she said in the statement. “Today I am reaching out to each group who may have received this correspondence to apologize. I will forward all records of this correspondence to the Attorney General and will work fully with his office to ensure the appearance of impropriety is quickly and thoroughly corrected.”