Two candidates filed petitions Monday contending the Cherokee Nation election results are invalid, alleging their winning opponents violated campaign laws and tribal officials looked the other way.
Dick Lay and Meredith Frailey centered each of their petitions on complaints lodged against Chuck Hoskin Jr. and Bryan Warner before the election that the pair allegedly accepted illegal in-kind contributions from a company and failed to report all campaign expenditures.
The petitions request Hoskin and Warner be disqualified, with a new election ordered.
“Cherokee citizens Adam Shepard, attorney Michael Moore, and Robin Mayes filed complaints and requests for investigations that have been ignored by the Election Commission and the Attorney General’s Office,” the petitions argue.
Attorney Deborah Reed filed each challenge in the Cherokee Nation Supreme Court.
Hoskin Jr. topped Lay in the principal chief race with 57.51% to 27.95% of the vote (7,933 to 3,856). Disqualified candidate David Walkingstick garnered 14.54%, or 2,006 votes.
Warner bested Frailey for deputy principal chief 58.88% to 41.12% (8,060 to 5,630).
Attorney General Todd Hembree defended the work he and his office did to investigate an abundance of complaints during a contentious election.
“Our office was forwarded dozens of complaints by the Election Commission that were filed by Cherokee citizens,” Hembree said. “The Attorney General’s Office responded to each and every complaint in the most timely and comprehensive manner as possible.”
In Moore’s complaints, he alleged the Hoskin-Warner ticket laundered their campaign funds through a family company to cloak the “true nature” of 93% — or nearly $600,000 — of their expenditures.
In response to an earlier complaint, Hembree directed the two candidates to file financial reports with more specificity after they labeled $574,000 in expenditures as miscellaneous consulting fees.
The amended reports then listed the miscellaneous consulting fees as payments for advertising, printing, office, travel, food and other campaign-related expenses, not just consultation.
The campaign stated it initially reported the expenses as miscellaneous because the term covered everything done on behalf of Hoskin and Warner.
“We think that at every point in this process we have been fully compliant with the law,” the campaign said in a previous statement.
The Moore complaints also allege Cherokee Future, a limited liability company owned by Hoskin’s father, made expenditures on behalf of the Hoskin-Warner ticket that were illegal in-kind donations from the company.
Chuck Hoskin Sr. has stated that Cherokee Future doesn’t advocate for candidates. He said the company pays invoices for goods and services rendered from various vendors on behalf of the campaigns, a “normal business practice” supported by an attorney general’s opinion from 2013.