Complaint alleges breach of confidential information

Former Reporter
06/05/2015 03:07 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Cherokee Nation citizens Cheryl Brown, of Oktaha, and Twila Barnes, of Saint Robert, Missouri, filed a complaint on June 2 with the Attorney General’s Office against Registration contract employee David Cornsilk.

The complaint alleges that on March 31 Cornsilk posted At-Large Tribal Council candidate Tommy Jones’ Cherokee blood quantum information in a Facebook group called “Cherokee Nation 2015 Election.”

“I had an interesting conversation with a couple of ‘Tommy Jones’ supporters last night. A couple of things came to light. First, they knew nothing about any of the other candidates for at large. Second, they had drawn their entire conclusions regarding his skills and abilities on his posts in a facebook group,” Cornsilk writes. “They had never actually met him. That’s not surprising because I see these same people say how much they ‘love’ their facebook friends, whom they’ve never met. Third, these same folks were once mocking Cara Cowan Watts low blood quantum of 1/256, but now support someone who is 1/128.”

The complaint states others in the Facebook group questioned Cornsilk about how he got Jones’ Certificate Degree of Indian Blood information. He implies in a response post that he received the CDIB information from the Election Commission by stating that CN citizens running for political offices must file CDIB cards to prove they have Cherokee blood.

“If you read Cherokee law, it says the candidate must be Cherokee by blood, not just a tribal member. That means they must file a copy of their CDIB to prove the fact. This prevents Freedmen, Delawares and Shawnees from running,” Cornsilk’s post states. “The candidate packet is public information available upon request…Under Cherokee law, as a candidate, you pretty much surrender your privacy.”

The complaint states that on April 2 a request was made to the EC through email for each candidacy packet filed by the At-Large candidates.

“Only the candidate declaration and financial agent pages were released to us, with the Election Commission citing the other pages were not available as they were deemed confidential,” the complaint states. “Mr. Jones has never authorized the release of his private information of CDIB information to the general public.”

Other than releasing certain private information to the EC, Jones said he has not publically released his Cherokee blood quantum. EC Chairman Bill Horton also said the EC has not released any candidates’ blood quantum amounts to the general public.

According to the complaint, Brown and Barnes request that the Attorney General’s Office conduct an investigation regarding Cornsilk’s post in which he gave Jones’ CDIB information.

“Because Mr. Cornsilk has access to CDIB information through his job as a contractor for the Cherokee Nation Registration Department, we respectfully request a formal investigation into the actions of Mr. Cornsilk and the release of the federally protected, private information of Mr. Jones,” the complaint states. “Furthermore, because an unauthorized release of CDIB information potentially violates the agreement between the Cherokee Nation and the Bureau of Indian Affairs, we additionally request the suspected unauthorized release of information be reported to the Bureau Privacy Officer, following the proper reporting procedures, as required by the Department of the Interior.”

According to the CDIB application form provided by the CN from the Bureau of Indian Affairs, its privacy act statement states that the BIA does not “disclose any record containing such information without the written consent of the respondent unless the requestor uses the information to perform assigned duties. The primary uses of this information is to certify that an individual possesses Indian blood…”

In an emailed response Cornsilk said, “The women who filed the complaint have no standing, therefore, beyond that, I have no further comment.”

The Cherokee Phoenix asked Cornsilk how he obtained Jones’ blood quantum information but again he declined to comment.

Attorney General Todd Hembree said his office has received the complaint and would review it.

“We will treat this as we do all such complaints with a thorough review and our due diligence to conduct our investigation,” Hembree said.

He added that a timeline for a determination of the complaint couldn’t be given at this time. Check back with the Cherokee Phoenix for updates.

Click here to view the complaint documents.

To view the posts, go to Click here to view


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