Election Commission postpones Fishinghawk hearing until May 23
TAHLEQUAH – The Cherokee Nation Election Commission voted unanimously on Thursday to grant a continuance of the hearing into allegations of electoral fraud by Dist. 8 Tribal Council candidate Jodie Fishinhawk.
The hearing was rescheduled for 9 a.m. on May 23 in the EC meeting room.
Attorney General Todd Hembree said Fishinghawk and her attorneys were not served all attachments concerning evidence and exhibits to be used by him in the hearing.
“(Fishinghawk) would not know the full scale of evidence being used against her,” Hembree said. “The attorney general’s office is not prepared to go forward. It would set up any decision of the commission for reversal.”
Legal counsel for Fishinghawk arrived for the hearing, but left before the EC met to reschedule. Hembree said he told the attorneys their presence was not essential for only a postponement, but when the commission emerged from executive session, members stated that the presence of Fishinghawk’s attorneys would have been optimal. Hembree apologized to the commissioners and said he took full responsibility.
Fishinghawk and her counsel have five business days to examine all evidence to be presented by the Hembree’s office. Hembree said all attachments would be provided and allow Fishinghawk’s team more than the required time.
Fishinghawk, a former tribal councilor, faces potential disqualification after tribal authorities accused her of forgery.
A May 8 investigative memo from Hembree alleged Fishinghawk and an accomplice forged signatures on voter registration forms and absentee ballot requests.
Fishinghawk, of Stilwell, was an Adair County representative for two terms from 2007-15. She faces potential disqualification under Title 26, Section 38(A) of the CN Code Annotated for attempting to interfere with or influence an election.
Evidence includes 33 voter registration forms with the same last name registered at one rural route address in Stilwell; 11 absentee ballot request forms with the same last name and same rural route address in Adair County; and 43 absentee ballot requests “that were all being sent” to Fishinghawk, according to the attorney general’s office.
Fishinghawk’s opponents in the June 1 general election are Ralph F. Keen II and incumbent Shawn Crittenden.