Baker, Smith Exchange War Of Words Over Cherokee Chief Election

Monday, July 11th 2011, 9:24 pm
By: News On 6

Ashli Sims, News On 6

TAHLEQUAH, Oklahoma -- The race to become the Cherokee Nation's principal chief is getting ugly. Dueling statements from both Bill John Baker and Chad Smith show nerves seem to be fraying and tempers are definitely flaring.

7/11/2011 Related Story: Chad Smith: Cherokee Election Recount 'Fatally Flawed'

Bill John Baker's campaign released a statement Monday saying, "Chad Smith is trying to steal this election he clearly lost."

Chief Smith fired back hours later saying Baker "has lost all credibility. In his quest for power, he's willing to become chief even if he has to cheat to do it."

The sharp exchange came on the heels of both sides, the Supreme Court justices, and election commissioners signing off on the latest ballot numbers.

The handwritten note says there were a total of 6,191 ballots. That's about 50 more than the original ballot count declaring Smith the winner, and nearly 300 more than the recount declaring Baker the winner.

The document also indicates there's a discrepancy between the number of ballot envelopes and the number of actual ballots.

Read the handwritten document certifying the number of absentee ballots and absentee envelopes

Baker's camp lays the blame on Smith's campaign, claiming "It's obvious that the ballot box was stuffed by people with access to the vault."

The statement goes on to say "[Smith] behaves like a dictator who believes the Cherokee Nation belongs to him and his henchmen and not the good people of our Nation. Smith cannot be trusted. It's time for Smith to go."

Smith called Baker's statement "another vicious attack filled with unfounded lies." He went on to say "Bill John Baker's win-at-any-cost style is demeaning to the Cherokee people."

And it's the Cherokee people, caught in the middle, still watching and waiting to see who their next chief will be.

The Cherokee Nation Supreme Court agreed to a ballot count, but it still has not ruled on the election winner.

The court is expected to decide what's next later this week.