By SCOTT MCKIE B.P.
ONE FEATHER STAFF
Two candidates for Principal Chief of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI) and one Cherokee School Board candidate were not certified to run in the 2019 tribal election. Teresa McCoy, former long-time Big Cove Tribal Council representative, and Mary “Missy” Crowe, a Yellowhill Community member who has tried several runs at Principal Chief, were not certified for the top position and Sharon E. Bradley, an educator within the Cherokee Central Schools system, was not certified to run for the Big Y School Board seat.
According to Sec. 161.3 (d) of the Cherokee Code, there are six reasons a person may not be certified including:
- The person has been convicted of, pled guilty to, or entered a non-contest plea to a felony; or
- The person has aided, abetted, counseled, or encouraged any person or persons guilty of defrauding the Tribe, or who may hereafter aid or abet, counsel or encourage anyone in defrauding the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians; or
- The person has been impeached and removed by the Tribal Council from any elected or appointed office, or found guilty in any jurisdiction to have violated a law that would constitute a violation of Section 17 of the Charter and Governing Document of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians; or
- The person resigned from Tribal elected or appointed office while under criminal investigation or under pending charges for fraud, or a violation of Section 17 of the Tribal Charter or Tribal Law; or
- The person is more than ninety (90) days in default of an obligation to pay a debt to the Tribe, which obligation is imposed by law, contract or court order and the default has not been cured; or
- The person fails to meet the residency requirements for elected office.
The Election Board provided each of the three with denial letters, delivered Monday, April 1, outlining why they were not certified. The Board cited number five above as the reason for denial for both Crowe and Bradley and number two as the reason for McCoy.
The denial letter provided to Bradley alleges, “The records on file with the EBCI Housing Department indicate that, as of March 28, 2019, you are in arrears $4,526.39. The Board is aware you have been making housing payments via tribal payroll deduction; however, there are historical arrearages which have not been cured and are in excess of ninety (90) days old.”
Bradley filed an appeal letter to the Board dated Thursday, April 4 in which she writes, “For the past 7+ years, Qualla Housing has been unable to explain the past due balance on the mortgage of my home…in the past 7 years, I have presented my case to Qualla Housing Board of Directors, met with the account specialist three times.”
She went on to write, “In all of my meetings with the staff and board of Qualla Housing, I have made it clear that I am both willing and able financially to clear up my account. There are some issues with the application of payments to my homeowner’s insurance policy that could be causing this discrepancy.”
A date and time for her appeal hearing was not available from the Election Board by press time.
The denial letter to Crowe alleges that she signed a TSALAGI (Tribal Solutions to Affordable Living Arrangements by Group Initiative Occupancy Agreement) in 2011 and alleges that she stopped payments on this agreement from 2013-16. It states a court judgment was entered against her in 2016 and “since entry of Court’s judgment against you, you have not made payments and you are in arrears in the amount of $3,848 as of March 28, 2019. This arrearage is more than ninety (90) days old and has not been cured.”
She filed an appeal letter to the Election Board on Friday, April 5. In her letter, she addressed many issues from the passage of the new Election Ordinance to directly addressing her Qualla Housing Authority (QHA) account.
“I have been trying to communicate with the QHA to bring my account up-to-date if the repairs to my house would be complete,” she wrote. “For the last five years, I have been asking for the QHA to fulfill their part of the housing agreement to bring my house up to code and livable conditions.”
She further writes, “I am not 90 days delinquent of payment to QHA, rather QHA is 90 days delinquent of my repairs.”
McCoy’s denial letter alleges that she traveled to a NAGPRA (Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act) consultation meeting at the University of Alabama in January 1996. The Board alleges that she was paid $432 in travel funds by the Tribe to cover four days of per diem at $75 per day and three days of a hotel for $44 per night.
The Board then alleges that she was paid a Miscellaneous Disbursement Voucher by the university which “provides for a consultation fee of $1,000 ($250 per day for four days), mileage for 922 miles at $.30 per mile for a total of $276.60, three nights of motel expenses at $40 a night for a total of $120, and $26 a day for meals for four days for a total of $104. Overall, the total payment covered by the voucher was for $1,500.60.”
The letter to McCoy goes on to allege that the Cherokee Indian Police Department initiated an investigation into the matter in 1997 and states, “In or around 1997, after a criminal investigation was initiated by the Cherokee Indian Police Department, you allegedly gave a sum of money to Principal Chief Joyce Dugan in her office in an apparent effort to pay back money owed to the Tribe as a result of your actions. On Aug. 7, 2003, Assistant Attorney Don Gast, of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Western District of North Carolina, wrote a letter to EBCI Attorney General David Nash explaining that its office declined to bring charges against you in 1999. The letter also stated that the federal five-year statute of limitations period in bringing possible charges against you had expired.”
A One Feather article published on July 2, 1997, written by then-Editor Joseph Martin, covers a Tribal Council hearing on the matter that was held on June 27, 1997. In the article, McCoy said that the investigation was retaliation for being vocal about an issue that came to be known as “Heatergate” – alleged misuse of funds from the HIP Committee. “None of this would have come up if I hadn’t said something about the heaters,” she said in the article.
The article did not report any official vote being taken but did end with the following statement, “(Chairman) Gloyne said the matter is resolved as far as Tribal Council is concerned. He said any action depends on what the U.S. District Attorney’s Office does.”
No charges were brought against McCoy in this matter.
McCoy, through her attorney Russell McLean, filed an appeal letter on Friday, April 5. The letter does not outline any reasons for the appeal other than simply requesting one.
McCoy did tell the One Feather that she plans to vigorously defend herself against these allegations during her appeal and that she denies wholeheartedly any wrongdoing whatsoever.
The Election Board related to the One Feather that the appeal hearings for Crowe and McCoy were scheduled for Tuesday, April 9.