Tribes seeking Governor Brad Henry's help in tax feud

Friday, July 29th 2005, 9:45 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ The chiefs of three Oklahoma tribes want Governor Henry to replace Treasurer Scott Meacham in dealing with the tribes on tobacco tax collections.

Cherokee Chief Chad Smith, Creek Chief AD Ellis and Osage Chief Jim Gray say in a letter to Henry that Meacham has made false accusations that the tribes are skimming and cheating on collection of the tax.

Meacham has said tobacco tax collections at tribal smoke shops are down because some are using a wrong, cheaper tax stamp or not collecting the state tax at all. Meacham says he's never said that tribes are knowingly violating their compacts with the state, but he says there is a problem getting smoke shops to comply.

A spokesman for the governor says Henry has full confidence in Meacham as the top negotiator on the tobacco tax issue.

The tax approved by voters took effect January 1st and eliminated the sales tax on cigarettes while raising the excise tax from 23 cents to $1.03 per pack of cigarettes.