Walkingstick, Hoskin disagree over federalizing Cherokee election

BY CHAD HUNTER
Reporter
04/24/2019 09:00 AM
TAHLEQUAH – A principal chief candidate has called for federal oversight of the June 1 general election based on what he called “the malfeasance of this administration to do what is right by our people.”

In an April 3 Facebook post, Tribal Councilor David Walkingstick requested “the Bureau of Indian Affairs to monitor” the election and “make a determination if the United States should recognize the result of the election” for the principal chief, deputy chief and At-Large Tribal Council seat held by Wanda Hatfield.

The Cherokee Nation Election Commission on April 18 disqualified Hatfield as a candidate, citing violations of campaign law. Hatfield included notes asking voters for support in CN envelopes along with grant checks appropriated to at-large tribal organizations.

In the April 3 post, the Walkingstick for Chief Facebook page states the “deafening silence from the Cherokee Nation officials on this important matter, which highlights a disturbing pattern of pay to play campaign contributions, ballot harvesting and decisions made for blazen political expediency” is troubling.

“I’m troubled to hear the reports of highly unethical, potentially illegal behavior by an incumbent tribal councilor running for re-election at-large,” the Walkingstick for Chief Facebook page stated April 3. “This is highly disturbing behavior from elected members of our tribal government, and must be investigated and pursued to the fullest extent of the law.”

The post states because of the current administration’s “malfeasance,” Walkingstick requested the election oversight as well as the “Department of Justice and Federal Bureau of Investigation to review the alleged abuses for violation of federal law and civil rights.”

As of publication, the CNEC and BIA had not responded for comment. FBI officials in Oklahoma City said in keeping with its policy it could neither confirm nor deny the existence of any investigation and declined further comment.

Walkingstick also requested that “Todd Hembree as Cherokee Nation Attorney General to appoint a Special Prosecutor to investigate theses alleged violations of law.”

Deputy Attorney General Chrissi Nimmo in an April 17 email stated the Office of the Attorney General “does not have a comment on Mr. Walkingstick’s calls for outside monitoring of the Cherokee Nation Election.” As for the special prosecutor request, Hembree testified and examined Hatfield in the April 18 hearing in which the CNEC disqualified her.

Emails and calls seeking further comment from Walkingstick regarding the post were not returned. His opponents in the principal chief’s race, former Secretary of State Chuck Hoskin Jr., and Dist. 12 Tribal Councilor Dick Lay, were asked to comment as well. Only Hoskin replied.

“I reject the stunning demands some have made that our elections and our system of justice be handed over to the federal government,” Hoskin said. “I took an oath to protect and defend the Constitution of the Cherokee Nation and our sovereignty. I have faith that the Cherokee Nation, our Election Commission, our laws and our courts can best address Councilor Hatfield’s actions.”
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