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Assistant Chief candidate says election office ‘lacks jurisdiction’ to fine him

Second round of campaign reporting statements are in for Chiefs race

A candidate for assistant principal chief of the Osage Nation is declining to cooperate with the Wahzhazhe Elections office and provide campaign reporting requirements as well as refusing to pay fines, declaring that the Nation lacks “jurisdiction to collect such fines.”

In response, the Osage Nation Election Board on April 29 fined Thomas Trumbly $125 for a third time and if the payment is not forthcoming, will decide May 5 what the next step will be. Election Supervisor Alexis Rencountre told the board that she would confer with Attorney General Clint Patterson on the course of action.

Trumbly – who is also running for District 1 Osage County Commissioner – failed to file the second campaign financial report that was due April 11 despite Rencountre notifying him four times of the need to do so.

On April 29, he gave the Election Board a letter addressed to the Attorney General stating, “I Thomas A. Trumbly running for Office of Assistant Principle Chief refuse to pay any fines associated with campaign due to lack of jurisdiction to collect such fines.” (sic)

This is the first time a candidate has refused to comply with Osage election laws.

Candidates for Principal Chief, from left: Geoffrey Standing Bear and Joe Tillman. Osage News

All other candidates for chief and assistant chief have adhered to reporting requirements. In the first round of reporting, the only two candidates who raised a substantial amount of money were the candidates for chief: Incumbent Geoffrey Standing Bear and his challenger, Congressman Joe Tillman. Standing Bear raised $48,350 and Tillman $29,355 in that first round.

The second round of reporting was more subdued, with Standing Bear raising $3,500 since mid-March and Tillman $3,350. Standing Bear’s contributors included Michael Neal, the director of the Tulsa Regional Chamber, Osage elder Stanlee Ann Mattingly, and Roger Fragua, a leading advocate for Native advancement who is from the Jemez Pueblo.

Tillman’s donors included Deidre Bigheart-Yerbic, who was the director of governmental affairs under the administration of Chief John D. Red Eagle, retired Osage membership director Sarah Oberly, former Hominy head committeeman Joseph Shunkamolah, and business donations from Big Eagle Blasting and Reed Ranch LLC. Tillman also took in $900 in anonymous cash donations, which are allowed under Osage law. In the last reporting cycle he took in over $8,100 in cash.

Both chief candidates also received in-kind donations for items and services such as firewood, food and cooking.

Standing Bear’s closing bank balance as of April 6 was nearly $26,000 while Tillman had almost $18,600 on hand for the remaining six weeks of the campaign.

Tillman spent a total of $6,863 for the reporting period on campaign mailers and signs, food for campaign dinners – including $350 for 75 meatpies by Paula Mashunkashey ­– lodging, and other expenses.

Standing Bear spent $5,624, including more than $4,000 on mailers and the remainder for food, supplies and event rentals.

R.J. Walker, candidate for assistant principal chief, received $250 in monetary donations, $200 from interior designer Chad Renfro and $50 from former Congressman and elder Archie Mason. He also received $500 in in-kind contributions for food and supplies at his camp during the primary.

On April 29, Rencountre reported that all absentee ballots have been mailed out and urged voters to be on the lookout for the large manila envelopes. If the ballots are not received by May 3 or so, voters should call the election board at (918) 287-5286 or 1-877-560-5286.

Early voting in the general election takes place June 3 and 4. Election Day is June 6.


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Louise Red Corn
Louise Red Corn has suffered from wanderlust for decades: She has lived and worked as a journalist and photographer in Rome, Italy, New York City, Detroit, Kentucky, Mississippi and Oklahoma, where she published The Bigheart Times for 12 years. She loves diving in-depth into just about any topic but is especially fond of covering legal issues, perhaps because her parents were both lawyers. She is married to Assistant Principal Chief Raymond Red Corn, who enticed her to move to the Osage Reservation in 2004. She and her husband live south of Pawhuska with one extremely large dog named Max, one extremely energetic dog named Pepper, and, if he bothers to make an appearance, a surly cat named Stinky.

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