UPDATED: Authorities debunk claim Hoskin orchestrated assault
A view from the Cherokee Nation’s Election Commission Office on April 29 in Tahlequah. The EC on April 26 received a complaint from a CN citizen claiming that principal chief candidate Chuck Hoskin Jr. had violated his rights via an assault by assailants. After an investigation, tribal officials have deemed that allegation as “false.” CHAD HUNTER/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
TAHLEQUAH – An allegation that a Cherokee Nation citizen was beaten and bullied at the request of a principal chief candidate has been deemed by tribal authorities as “false” and “misquoted.”
Jimmie Dewayne McManus, of Welling, filed a complaint on April 26 with the Election Commission alleging he was assaulted on April 2 by two or more men “believed” to have been sent to his home by former Secretary of State Chuck Hoskin Jr., who is running for chief.
According to McManus’ complaint, the men told him to remove Facebook comments supporting chief candidate David Walkingstick, “then demanded” he vote for Hoskin.
In the complaint, McManus described the assault as “a deliberate attempt to suppress” his “constitutional right to freedom of speech and to influence the election in favor of Chuck Hoskin Jr.” But during an investigation, McManus indicated his complaint was embellished to include references to Hoskin and his campaign.
“McManus told the Cherokee Nation Marshal Service that he never implicated Chuck Hoskin Jr. or his campaign in the assault,” states an April 29 report from the attorney general’s office.
An incident report filed with the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office on April 5, indicates the alleged assault occurred around 1:45 a.m. McManus told Deputy Nick Chute that he was awakened “by someone banging” on his front door, which he opened.
“McManus stated that he was told to take everything off of Facebook about ‘Chuck’ and McManus responded by saying, ‘f— Chuck,’” Chute’s report states. “McManus stated that he was hit in the head by an unknown object, and he fell backwards on his couch and one of the individuals was on top of him continuing to hit him in the face and head area.”
McManus claimed in the report that his aggressor repeatedly said “vote for Chuck.”
“McManus stated that he thinks he blacked out,” the report states, “and when he came to he saw them leaving down his driveway and he grabbed his 12 gauge shotgun and fired two shots at the truck as it was leaving.”
McManus referenced the alleged assault later in a Facebook post that was shared by Dist. 3 Tribal Council candidate Jim Cosby, who commented, “My buddy Chooch got jumped by some Hoskin thugs for posting election stuff supporting Stick. Be careful out there.”
The attorney general’s report states McManus said he agreed to file the complaint at Walkingstick’s request, then traveled to Walkingstick campaign headquarters where “employee Luke Harshaw typed a complaint for him to sign.”
“McManus stated he did not read the complaint before he signed it,” the attorney general’s report states. “He further stated that he was not making allegations that Hoskin individually or the Hoskin campaign sent individuals to assault him.”
When interviewed by phone, Harshaw told authorities he typed the complaint, the report states.
“Mr. Harshaw alleged that McManus said the individuals who assaulted him were ‘with Hoskin,’” the report states. “Mr. Harshaw admitted that McManus did not say the individuals were ‘with Chuck’s campaign.’”
The CNMS concluded there was no evidence to support claims that either Hoskin or his campaign had knowledge of, or condoned, the alleged assault. There was also no evidence of an attempt to suppress McManus’ constitutional right to freedom of speech or to influence the election in favor of Hoskin, the report states.
“The Office of the Attorney General agrees with this finding, that the complaint filed with the Election Commission was false and the statement of the complaining witness was misquoted,” the attorney general’s report stated. “The Office of the Attorney General considers this matter closed.”
Hoskin, in a statement, wrote “The actions taken by the Walkingstick campaign are truly disgusting. All manner of things are said in the heat of a campaign, but to coerce and file a false statement they know to be a lie is a blatant attempt to steal this election through unquestionable fraud. Talking about my record is fair game. Concocting false criminal accusations about phony acts of physical violence in an attempt to steal an election is a stain on Cherokee Nation. Councilor Walkingstick should immediately fire Luke Harshaw, the campaign manager who filed this false and defamatory claim. The Cherokee Nation Marshal determined that it was Walkingstick himself who first called Mr. McManus and asked him to file a complaint. Walkingstick should now disclose all involvement he had in this scheme. Cherokee Citizens deserve better. Both Mr. Walkingstick and Mr. Harshaw — as Cherokee Citizens — should be ashamed. Cherokee Nation deserves better than this. Mr. Walkingstick should know that’s not the Cherokee way.”
In a May 3 email, the Walkingstick campaign sent the following response:
“Mr. McManus filed a police report with the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Department in early April, made multiple statements to friends, and Facebook posts that were all consistent. There were clear and visible wounds on Mr. McManus that were apparently taken on the night of the attack. As reports break and the Cherokee Nation Election Commission acknowledges the filing of ethics complaints against Attorney General Todd Hembree for hiding donations to Chuck Hoskin Jr. and Bryan Warner’s campaigns under his wife’s name, he has been allowed by the Baker administration and the Election Commission under his job title to ‘clear’ his political crony to try to assure his own job security in the future,” the email states. “After a Cherokee citizen was assaulted and the Cherokee County Sheriff's Department continued their investigation, the Cherokee Phoenix – whose Executive Editor is the nephew of the Attorney General Todd Hembree and which is partially funded by the Cherokee Nation – printed this lopsided article and puts lives at risk. I call upon the Cherokee people to ask for the removal of Attorney General Todd Hembree from all election activities and 'investigations' and for the Cherokee Phoenix to begin fair and accurate reporting on ALL complaints. If not, the Cherokee people must call the Bureau of Indian Affairs at (202) 208-5116 to demand that a free and fair election takes place in the Cherokee Nation.”