Constitution in jeopardy as Chukchansi leaders split Council ahead of California tribal election
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Chukchansi Tribal Council: Payments to Voters Render Lewis-Alberta Referenda Invalid, “Fraudulent”
four-member quorum of the Chukchansi Tribal Council, headed by Tribal Chairwoman Nancy Ayala, continues to fight to protect the tribe’s membership and its financial solvency from the actions of three “rogue” Council members whom the Council majority believe to be attacking the Chukchansi tribe’s best interests.
The accused rogue group’s latest action, according to Council quorum members Nancy Ayala, Dr. Karen Wynn, Charles Sargosa and Tracey Brechbuehl: Two invalid referenda to remake the Chukchansi Tribal Council in the Lewis-Alberta group’s favor, a pair of votes tarnished by allegations of bribed voters, failure to follow the Chukchansi Constitution and blatant conflicts of interest.1
The “rogue” group – headed by Councilmen Reggie Lewis and Chance Alberta – mailed the referenda to tribal members in April, said Chairwoman Ayala. The chairwoman further explained that the invalid ballots were accompanied by an offer to receive a one-time “per capita” payment, paid from funds siphoned by the Lewis group when their Council minority fled tribal headquarters in February (the offer of compensation for votes even came accompanied by a federal IRS W-4 form). Tribal members have reported to Tribal Council that they were required to sign the referenda in order to receive this one-time payment.
After informing tribal members they had hired Indian Dispute Resolution Services – a self-proclaimed independent consultant that according to media reports and information provided to Council has employed a Lewis relative as a “facilitator and mediator” since 19972 – the Lewis group used the IDRS count to falsely declare victory in an April 30th letter to tribal members.3 The Chukchansi Tribal Council quorum vigorously disputes IDRS’ role, its count and the Lewis’ faction’s claims of victory.
“At a time when our tribe needs to come together to protect what we’ve worked so hard to build, it’s the height of irresponsibility to attempt to bribe tribal members to vote for a fraudulent referendum that isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on,” said Chairwoman Nancy Ayala. “We’ve heard numerous reports of this rogue group paying tribal members in return for their vote. Nor was this referendum ever presented to the Tribal Council quorum, or the Chukchansi Election Committee. Even more amazing, the Lewis group’s letter claims they ‘won’ with 53% of the vote. When your attempt to bribe voters results in a bare majority, you should rethink your position.”
Given the amount of the “vote for money” payments and the number of participants in the Lewis-Alberta ballot scheme, it appear to the Tribal Council quorum that this unauthorized effort could have cost well into six figures – money the Chukchansi tribe could have used to fund legitimate operations and much-needed services for youth, families and elders.
“While the Tribal Council quorum works 24/7 to manage the casino, fund legitimate per-capita payments and pay casino bondholders, the Lewis-Alberta group continues to spend money for their own self-interest,” said Dr. Karen Wynn, Council Treasurer. “A half million dollars for lawyers, hundreds of thousands more on a fake election. When does it stop?”