OKMULGEE — Paperwork formally kicking off an effort to remove Muscogee (Creek) Nation Principal Chief George Tiger from office was filed Tuesday with the tribe’s Election Board.
Shelly Harjo-Brandy said supporters of Tiger’s removal will meet at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Best Western hotel in Okmulgee to begin gathering signatures.
The group has 60 days to gather at least 3,290 signatures from tribal members. That number represents 20 percent of the registered tribal voters, records show.
Harjo-Brandy said the group hopes to collect at least 4,000 signatures.
“I feel we’ll meet it,” she said.
If a sufficient number of signatures is gathered, the National Council will review the petition and decide whether to proceed with impeachment proceedings.
At least a three-fourths vote of the National Council, or 12 of 16 members, is required to remove the chief.
The Creek Nation’s council voted 12-0 in an emergency session March 9 to ask Tiger to resign.
The council speaker said the action was due to the revelation in a March 8 Tulsa World story that Tiger contracted in 2009 to consult with Shane Rolls, who planned to develop a casino in Broken Arrow for the Kialegee Tribal Town.
The contract would have paid Tiger 5 percent of the revenues from the proposed Kialegee casino, which would have been built in Broken Arrow. It also promised Tiger up to $200,000 in bonus payments for securing land agreements and payment of $5,000 per month once the casino opened.
The Broken Arrow casino could have siphoned up to $40 million per year from the Creek Nation’s River Spirit casino in Tulsa. The casino project stalled after public opposition grew and a federal judge issued an injunction halting construction.
Although that order was later overturned, Rolls has said the casino will not be built on the Broken Arrow site. He said the project is moving forward but has declined to identify the new site.
The impeachment petition includes a list of claims against Tiger in addition to those associated with the Broken Arrow casino. The Tulsa World could not independently verify the remaining claims in the petition.
When reached for comment, a representative of Tiger’s said a statement regarding the petition would be “forthcoming.”
Tiger has previously denied any wrongdoing in connection with the Kialegee casino plan. He claims that any agreements he had with Rolls expired after he was elected to the Creek National Council in 2011.
“While still a private citizen in 2009, I embraced an opportunity to serve in a consulting capacity to an initiative that aspired to improve the economic development and potential for jobs. In so doing, I understand now that my services and intentions may be misinterpreted,” Tiger said in a statement released Friday.
His statement says that because the contract was signed before he was sworn into office in January 2010, there was nothing improper about his consulting role.
“My consulting business agreement for the Kialegee project terminated when I took the oath of office for National Council member January 2, 2010. I did not take project fees after that date. Former business associates did provide campaign donations,” he said.