Tribal Council Rep. Teresa McCoy investigated by Ethics Review Committee

by Jun 14, 2022NEWS ka-no-he-da0 comments



One Feather Staff


An ethics investigations report has found there was ‘probable cause’ that Big Cove Rep. Teresa McCoy committed a Code of Ethics violation during an incident that occurred on Nov. 3, 2021.

The EBCI (Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians) Office of Internal Audit and Ethics conducted this investigation following the filing of five complaints. The report states the identity of those that filed complaints is confidential. The allegation in the reported stated that Rep. McCoy ‘exhibited unprofessional conduct during a verbal altercation with the Pageant Board.’ The incident in question happened outside of the Council House chambers that Wednesday morning. This report was fully approved on March 3 of this year.

The investigator for the report interviewed multiple witnesses, the individuals who filed complaints, and Rep. McCoy. They also referenced a footage that was pulled from Council House surveillance cameras.

The five complaints alleged that Rep. McCoy violated nine sections of Cherokee Code Section 117-45.3(d). The ethics investigator dismissed seven of these but found potential violations under two sections: Section 117-45.3(d)(10) and Section 117-45.3(d)(15).

Section 117-45.3(d)(10) states ‘Tribal officials of the EBCI shall not act individually, jointly or through another, threaten, intimidate, or discipline any person as reprisal for any legitimate action taken by the person.’

The investigator offered the following insight on their view of the proposed violation:

“Ms. McCoy’s tone and demeanor were described as aggressive when addressing the Pageant Board. This was substantiated through interviews and a review of video footage. This verbal altercation escalated to the point that three different bystanders asked others to intervene in an attempt to diffuse the situation. These individuals felt it could have escalated into a physical altercation. One witness even stated, ‘when attempting to break Ms. McCoy and the Pageant Board up they intentionally did not place their body in between the two parties because they feared they could be assaulted.”

Section 117-45.3(d)(15) states ‘Tribal officials shall maintain or enhance the honesty and integrity of their respective offices; and safeguard the reputation of the EBCI as a whole.’

“Three individuals were approached to intervene in an attempt to de-escalate the situation. The actions of these individuals indicate they believed the incident was outside of a normal disagreement and could escalate into a volatile situation. In viewing the video no one involved in the altercation attempted to back away during the confrontation. The only time anyone left was when there was outside intervention. As a representative of the EBCI, Ms. McCoy should always conduct herself in a professional manner. The behavior exhibited by Ms. McCoy during this verbal altercation did not maintain the integrity of a Tribal Council Representative and did not safeguard the reputation of the EBCI as a whole.”

As previously reported by the Cherokee One Feather, Tribal Prosecutor Cody White could not confirm if this particular case was being reviewed. He did say that any reports filed to the Prosecutors Office from the Ethics Review Committee become a matter of ongoing investigation. He said the Prosecutors Office could not make comment on such a situation. White said that if there is further action taken following investigation, then the case will become a matter of public record.

EBCI Attorney General Michael McConnell offered the following statement when asked about the case:

“I can confirm that I have received a letter and report of investigation from the Ethics Review Committee (part of the Office of Internal Audit and Ethics) regarding an incident involving Representative Teresa McCoy, and a letter and report of investigation regarding an incident involving Representative Bo Crowe.  The incidents involving Ms. McCoy and Mr. Crowe are not related.  Both matters are under review.  I have no further comment at this time.”

The One Feather has already published an article on the report regarding Rep. Bo Crowe. The process of these cases will continue to be monitored and any significant updates will be reported.

The One Feather attempted to contact Rep. McCoy for a statement on the matter but did not receive an answer by press time.