Dist. 8 candidate accused of forging voters’ signatures
Cherokee Nation Election Commissioner Carolyn Allen, left, and EC Chairwoman Shawna Calico discuss suspicious absentee ballot requests on April 26 during a special meeting. CHAD HUNTER/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
TAHLEQUAH – Cherokee Nation Dist. 8 candidate Jodie Fishinghawk, a former eight-year tribal councilor, faces potential disqualification after tribal authorities accused her of forgery.
A May 8 investigative memo from Attorney General Todd Hembree alleges Fishinghawk and an accomplice forged signatures on voter registration forms and absentee ballot requests.
“Fishinghawk’s testimony indicates her intent to deceive the Election Commission staff so that voters would be registered by the Election Commission without their knowledge and consent, and absentee ballots would be issued by the Election Commission without the knowledge or consent of the voter,” the attorney general’s memo states.
Fishinghawk, of Stilwell, was an Adair County representative for two terms from 2007-15. The EC has called a special meeting for 4 p.m. on May 9 to address the attorney general’s findings.
According to an EC special meeting agenda, the commission in executive session will consider “possible action on setting a hearing date” for Fishinghawk, who faces potential disqualification under Title 26, Section 38(A) of the CN Code Annotated for attempting to interfere with or influence an election.
The suspicious absentee ballot requests and voter registration forms were turned over for investigation by EC officials. 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.
Hembree said his office and the CN Marshal Service interviewed 17 of the CN citizens whose paperwork was suspect.
“All of these citizens stated that they did not fill out the voter registration and/or absentee ballot request form in question,” the attorney general’s memo states. “Additionally, Jodie Fishinghawk admitted to signing personally the voter’s name to approximately 23 voter registration or absentee ballot request forms.”
According to the attorney general’s memo, a woman named Johanna Flynn took part in the forgery for pay.
“Jodie Fishinghawk gave Ms. Flynn a ‘master list’ of names and addresses of Cherokee citizens and asked Ms. Flynn to fill out voter registration forms and absentee ballot request forms,” the memo states. “Ms. Flynn admitted to filling out approximately 33 voter registration and absentee ballot request forms.”
Flynn completed the forms using her address, according to the memo, and signed the names of the citizens.
The memo further alleges “Fishinghawk was in the process of obtaining a notary stamp” for Flynn so she could “vote and notarize the absentee ballots when they were delivered.”
“The Cherokee Nation Marshal Service was able to confirm that more than half of the absentee ballot request forms submitted by or at the direction of candidate Jodie Fishinghawk were forgeries,” the memo states.
Fishinghawk’s opponents in the June 1 general election are Ralph F. Keen II and incumbent Shawn Crittenden.
A call to Fishinghawk for comment was not returned as of publication.Click here to view
the investigation documents.