UPDATE: Dist. 2 Tribal Council candidate charged with accepting illegal contribution

Bobby Slover

TAHLEQUAH – Cherokee Nation election candidate Bobby Slover, one of two Dist. 2 finalists for Saturday’s runoff election, was charged July 21 with accepting an illegal campaign contribution.

The CN Attorney General’s Office contends that Slover, 63, of Tahlequah, “unlawfully and knowingly” accepted a $1,000 campaign donation from a legal entity, which is prohibited.

The tribe’s Election Commission scheduled a hearing for July 29 to address the attorney general’s accusation against Slover. The special meeting is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. inside the EC office at 17763 S. Muskogee Ave. in Tahlequah.

According to the CN Election Code, candidate contributions “may only be made by individual natural persons.”

“No corporation, partnership and/or any other legal entity shall contribute to any Cherokee Nation campaign or candidate,” the code’s Section 43 states.

A financial report filed by Slover with the Election Commission on July 14 lists the June 18 contribution’s source as Action Floors LLC of Tahlequah. A revised financial report, filed July 20, lists Darla and Jeff McCarty as the source.

“Jeffery McCarty advised that he is the owner of Action Floors LLC and donated $1,000 to Bobby Slover’s campaign,” an affidavit from CN Marshal Service investigator Erik Fuson states. “Mr. Slover stated he later sent his wife to pick up the check from Mr. McCarty’s place of business.”

Slover, who faces off against Candessa Tehee in Saturday’s runoff, had no comment. In a statement, Tehee said tribal elections “need to be determined by Cherokees, not corporations making illegal campaign contributions.”

The June 5 election saw Tehee and Slover garner the most votes in their seven-candidate race, but neither secured the required 50% threshold to win. Tehee received 219 votes (32.21%) and Slover 200 (29.41%), according to the EC.

On June 15, a Slover campaign volunteer facing potential jail time for election crimes pleaded not guilty to the charges lodged against her by the Attorney General’s Office.

Lisa Dawn Cookson, 53, of Tahlequah, through an attorney, entered her plea during an appearance before presiding CN District Court Judge T. Luke Barteaux. She is accused of preparing, altering and signing more than 90 absentee ballot request forms without the knowledge or consent of voters between January and April “in an attempt to alter the outcome” of the June 5 election.

On May 3, the Attorney General’s Office charged Cookson with one count each of election fraud and false personation. However, on June 14, an additional five counts of false personation were added to the complaint, which also upped the number of allegedly fraudulent absentee ballot request forms from “in excess of 15” to 90.

The false personation charges allege that Cookson impersonated others to fill out and turn in absentee ballot request forms “without the consent or knowledge” of the victims. Cookson was arrested May 4 and later released on bond, according to the AG’s office. Her next court appearance is scheduled for August.

Under CN law, election fraud and false personation is punishable by up to three years for each count and a maximum fine of $15,000.