Challenged Cherokee Nation candidates head to high court
TAHLEQUAH – Supreme Court appeals have been filed disputing decisions made by election authorities in all five cases involving challenged candidates.
On Feb. 21, the Cherokee Nation’s Election Commission certified three of the five challenged candidates for the June 1 general election. A CN citizen who levied the failed challenges, along with the two candidates deemed ineligible to run, filed appeals with the CN Supreme Court prior to a Feb. 28 deadline.
Buel Anglen, the Dist. 13 Tribal Council representative, is appealing his term-limit-based disqualification. Principal chief candidate Rhonda Brown-Fleming, a Freedman descendant, is also appealing her disqualification, which was based on residency requirements for the job.
CN citizen Robin Mayes challenged the eligibility of three candidates unsuccessfully. He argued that principal chief candidate Charles “Chuck” Hoskin Jr., deputy chief candidate Bryan Warner and Dist. 3 candidate Debra Proctor accepted contributions via a professional campaign manager “way before” they were legally allowed to under CN election law.
Proctor’s attorney, Michael Parks, had requested an expedited Supreme Court hearing. Mayes objected in writing “to the rush,” citing a need for time to gather additional evidence, call witnesses and file a brief.
“Because petitioner has not had discovery rights until now,” Mayes wrote, “he requests the court grant reasonable time to do so.”
All appeal hearings are scheduled to take place March 11. Mayes’ appeal is set for 9 a.m., Brown-Fleming’s at 10 a.m. and Anglen’s at 1 p.m.
Anglen’s appeal alleges the EC “erred” in its decision.
“Anglen complied with the ‘plain written’ language of Article VI by not serving two consecutive terms before filing for the 2019 elections,” the appeal states.
CN law restricts councilors to two consecutive four-year terms.
“All Council members having served two consecutive terms must sit out one term before seeking any seat on the Council,” the CN Constitution states.
Fellow Dist. 13 candidate Joe Deere challenged Anglen. Deere’s attorney, Carly Griffith Hotvedt, argued that Anglen did not sit out the required four years between terms.
“While the facts are slightly convoluted considering the change of the district, the redistricting and the terms of service, it’s clear here Mr. Anglen has not sat out four years as Constitutionally required,” she told the EC in February. “He should be required to sit out four years before he’s eligible to be a candidate again.”
Anglen’s initial run on the council began in 2002, when he was appointed to fill a Dist. 8 vacancy. He was elected to the seat in 2003, serving a full term.
In 2007 when term limits took effect, Anglen was elected again, but the typical four-year term was extended to six during a time of redistricting, according to attorneys involved.
After losing his seat due to redistricting in 2013, Anglen sat out two years, then ran for and secured the new Dist. 13 seat in 2015.