NAACP Leader Disappointed Governor Linked To Chief's Fundraiser

Friday, March 23rd 2007, 8:38 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- The leader of the NAACP in Oklahoma said he is disappointed that high-ranking Democrats, including Gov. Brad Henry, are listed as hosts for a fundraiser for Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chad Smith next week.

Cherokees voted earlier this month to remove descendants of slaves from the tribe's rolls.

"It baffles me that politicians are not more sensitive to what transpired there," said Roosevelt Milton, president of the state's NAACP. "I'm pretty indignant about it. I don't really think it's a good political move on their part.

"Maybe the Democratic Party ought to rethink this or maybe they are just rubbing sand in a sore."

Paul Sund, a spokesman for the governor, said Henry does not plan to attend the fundraiser but his name was authorized as a host in the context that he values the "positive impact that our tribal nations have on the state of Oklahoma, and he has worked well with Chief Smith on economic development matters and other issues."

Henry was out of the state on vacation.

Other hosts listed for the Tuesday fundraiser include Lt. Gov. Jari Askins, state Treasurer Scott Meacham, state schools Superintendent Sandy Garrett, Insurance Commissioner Kim Holland and Senate President Pro Tempore Mike Morgan.

The event will benefit the re-election campaigns of Smith, who is a registered Republican, as well as Deputy Chief Joe Grayson Jr. and Councilman-at-Large Jack Baker.

Cherokee Nation spokesman Mike Miller said tribal issues are separate from partisan issues.

"You don't necessarily have to agree with everything that happens, and the chief didn't advocate one way or another in the election," Miller said. "So it's kind of ridiculous to say that someone should not support him based on something the Cherokee voters did."

The Cherokee Nation contributed to Henry's 2006 re-election campaign.