Cherokee Councilmen Alleges 'Backroom Deal' In Freedmen Case

Wednesday, September 21st 2011, 3:55 pm
By: News On 6

Lacie Lowry, News On 6

UPDATE: Cherokee Nation Attorney General Diane Hammons says she has now read the request from Tribal Council member Chuck Hoskin, asking her to investigate Former Chief Chad Smith. However, Hammons says she has not made a decision yet on whether to investigate. She says she's focusing on complying with the Freedmen order right now and how that order affects the Nation. Hammons hopes to make a decision sometime next week on a possible investigation.

TAHLEQUAH, Oklahoma -- Cherokee Tribal Councilman Chuck Hoskin Jr. accused the tribe's former chief of cloakroom double-dealings Wednesday.

The allegations: Chad Smith negotiated a backdoor deal with a high-profile U.S. Congressman that Hoskin says puts the Cherokee Nation's sovereignty on the line.

Chad Smith is running for re-election in the nation's re-vote for chief this weekend.

Hoskin says that Cherokee Nation employees have come forward, admitting that Former Chief Smith made a deal back in 2009 to allow Freedmen to remain citizens in exchange for federal money for the nation.

9/20/2011 Related Story: Cherokee Nation Makes Deal Allowing Freedmen Vote

Hoskin believes Smith struck a deal with Massachusetts Congressman Barney Frank to keep the Freedmen as citizens.

Hoskin suspects a deal was made involving 'Cherokee Nation vs. Nash', a lawsuit involving Freedmen rights which was filed in the Northern District of Oklahoma.

Bill John Baker, who was a tribal councilman at the time, said Smith and Council for the Cherokee Nation, Meredith Frailey, assured the tribal council that the suit was not waiving the Nation's sovereign immunity.

Baker said Wednesday, "We had already won in D.C. that they could not sue us because we had sovereign immunity and the second this got rolled in, we lost that defense."

Baker, Smith's opponent in the race to become chief, says Smith lied to the tribal council.

"The employees aren't going to come forward until they get some assurances that they will be protected. It's absolutely wrong and it's sorry leadership," Baker said.

Hoskin, who recently represented Baker in the Cherokee election recount case, says Smith had a duty to tell the council any agreements struck with the federal government.

Smith calls the allegations silly.

"It's characteristic of his entire negative campaign. It's really a diversion to create some noise, some confusion to divert from the fact that he is purporting to advance the Freedmen as his voters," Smith said.

Smith says he met Frank four years ago as part of a huge delegation and no deal was discussed. Congressman Barney Frank told News On 6 the allegations are "wholly untrue and utter bulls—t." Frank also says he and Chad Smith have never met.

News On 6 asked which employees came forward and Hoskin wouldn't say. We also asked for specific evidence of Smith's wrong-doing and he said he wouldn't provide those details yet.

Cherokee Nation Attorney General Diane Hammons says she has not yet read Hoskin's request for an investigation.

Read The Request