Absentee Shawnee governor embroiled in controversy

Monday, August 29th 2005, 10:17 am
By: News On 6

SHAWNEE, Okla. (AP) -- Some members of the Absentee Shawnee Tribe are starting a petition drive to remove tribal Governor Larry Nuckolls -- less than two months after he was elected.

Nuckolls defeated incumbent Governor Kenneth Blanchard by a two-to-one margin on June 18th, but tribal members are now questioning his spending and his management of the tribe's casino.

Tribal economic development association director Kevin Ellis says Nuckolls has put the tribe into financial disaster in just weeks.

Two weeks after Nuckolls took office the salary and fringe benefits for the governor's office doubled -- and the budget for the tribe's new attorney general went from about 157-thousand dollars to nearly 382-thousand.

Nuckolls also removed the three top employees at the tribe's Thunderbird Casino, then fired 16 other workers and eliminated a three-member commission that is to make sure the casino complies with federal law.

Nuckolls didn't return phone calls seeking comment, but has said the recall effort is politically motivated.