Walkingstick files appeal with Supreme Court
Principal chief candidate David Walkingstick greets supporters outside the Election Commission Office on May 17 in Tahlequah. CHAD HUNTER/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
TAHLEQUAH – Disqualified principal chief candidate David Walkingstick filed an appeal with the Cherokee Nation Supreme Court on May 20 in hopes of rejoining the race.
Walkingstick, the Dist. 3 tribal councilor, was ousted from the race on May 17 by the Election Commission following an all-day hearing based on complaints filed by CN citizens.
Attorney General Todd Hembree and Deputy Attorney General Chrissi Nimmo laid out the case against Walkingstick. Attorney Brian Berry, who filed the Supreme Court appeal, represented Walkingstick at the hearing.
“To remove a candidate like Mr. Walkingstick off the ballot, you got to have serious evidence to back it up,” Berry said during the EC hearing. “They have nothing.”
The complaints, filed by Chelsea Huber and Elizabeth Stroud, alleged 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 attorney general’s office offered evidence it claimed linked Walkingstick to Cherokees for Change LLC in a scheme to hide campaign donations.
In its decision to disqualify, the EC stated Walkingstick violated the tribe’s election law by soliciting or accepting illegal contributions.
“The facts demonstrate that David Walkingstick understood on Feb. 21, 2019, that his financial agent, Rusty Appleton, intended to set up an LLC that would solicit contributions and use those monetary donations to supplement and support Walkingstick’s own campaign,” the EC decision states. “It is clear that Cherokees for Change LLC made illegal in-kind contributions to the campaign of David Walkingstick.”
Walkingstick denied a connection to Cherokees for Change, arguing that he became aware of the LLC after Appleton left his campaign. During hearing testimony, Walkingstick said Appleton lied in an affidavit that implied he was aware of the LLC from its beginnings.
The Supreme Court had not yet set an appeal hearing date as of publication.
The general election is June 1. Early walk-in voting at the EC Office starts May 25.
Other candidates in the principal chief race are former Secretary of State Chuck Hoskin Jr. and Dist. 12 Tribal Councilor Dick Lay.