The Cherokee Nation general election is slated for June 1, and the Cherokee Nation Election Commission received candidacy filings from 36 individuals.
Five of the individuals who filed had their eligibility challenged last week during a special meeting of the CN Election Commission, leaving some people curious as to what laws may prevent someone from throwing their hat into the ring.
A hearing has also been set for the five potential candidates Thursday, as the EC will determine whether the individuals' challenges constitute ineligibility.
The Daily Press has not received any physical proof or evidence of the challengers' claims.
Three uncertified candidates were challenged on the same grounds by CN citizen Robin Mayes, who argued that Chuck Hoskin Jr., Bryan Warner, and Debra Proctor "accepted in kind contributions before Dec. 1 and should be removed from the race." Hoskin filed for principal chief of the Cherokee Nation, Warner filed for deputy chief, and Proctor filed for District 3 councilor.
According to the challenge filed with the commission, Mayes claims that all three candidates accepted in kind contributions. He claims that "Kalyn Free orchestrated a financial campaign to raise funds for Hoskin/Warner and Deb Proctor before [Dec. 1]," that the three individuals accepted the funds and Free's "illegal in-kind contribution."
According to Legislative Act 12-16 of the Cherokee Nation, "'campaign contribution' means a contribution in money or goods or services to a candidate or political committee" offered in connected with a campaign. It also states that no candidate, officeholder, or potential candidate may receive campaign contributions prior to the beginning of the six-month period preceding the election - before Dec. 1, 2018.
Another potential candidate, Rhonda Brown Fleming, was challenged on her eligibility by Marcus Thompson and Twila Pennington. The two challengers claim Fleming does not the meet the requirements of residency.
They also filed another challenge with the commission, asking the EC to "determine whether or not Ms. Fleming meets the blood requirement for office."
CN elections laws state a candidate must have established a residence within the jurisdictional boundaries of the Cherokee Nation for no less than 270 days immediately preceding the day of the general election.
Pennington claims she has proof that Fleming is in fact a resident of California.
She also claims that Fleming is a descendent of Cherokee Nation Freedmen and therefore does not meet the "citizen by blood of the Cherokee Nation" requirement laid out in the Cherokee Constitution.
In 2018, the Bureau of Indian Affairs told the tribe in a letter that its election law is appropriate for "the limited purpose of the 2019 Principal Chief election."
The BIA's Eastern Oklahoma Regional Office also found an issue with LA 12-16, however, citing a provision for blood requirement to be a citizen of the Nation.
According to the letter from the BIA, CN Attorney General Todd Hembree also wrote a letter affirming the case of Cherokee Nation V. Nash, et al, that Cherokee Freedmen descendants have right to citizenship coextensive with the rights of native Cherokees. The BIA also stated that Hembree noted Freedmen descendants "shall have all the rights and duties of any other native Cherokee, including the right to run for office."
Lastly, Buel Anglen's eligibility for candidacy was also challenged. The challenger is Joe Deere, who is also vying for Tribal Council District 13. Deere claims that Anglen has not sat out a full term after serving two consecutive terms. According to Deere's challenge, he claims that because of the series of enactments to redistrict the tribe's jurisdiction in 2010, Anglen has essentially stood as "a candidate for sixteen years of consecutive elections in his district" and "has finally termed out and is ineligible to run."
The challengers and potential candidates will make their arguments to Cherokee Nation Election Commission Thursday, at 1 p.m., when all five cases will be examined in a hearing at the Cherokee Nation Election Commission.