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Attorney General says Simms is off Gaming Enterprise Board

Simms resigned from the GEB on Jan. 20 amid controversy, then rescinded the resignation four days later. However, AG said Simms cannot legally rescind his resignation

Osage Nation Attorney General Clint Patterson ruled Feb. 2 that Mark Simms, the longtime Gaming Enterprise Board member who resigned one day then rescinded his resignation four days later is not, in fact, a member of the board anymore.

Alice Goodfox, the Speaker of the Congress, posed the question to the Nation’s top legal officer.

Patterson’s opinion was direct. “No, Mark Simms is not a Gaming Enterprise Board member as he resigned his board position creating a board vacancy and cannot legally rescind his resignation as this creates an unallowable reappointment to the Gaming Enterprise Board,” says Patterson’s short answer to Goodfox.

“Per the Constitution and Osage law, only the Principal Chief can fill a vacancy by appointment or reappoint a member to the Gaming Enterprise Board, with subsequent confirmation by Congress, and that did not happen.”

Patterson’s opinion comes just days before Congress’ Commerce, Gaming and Land Committee is poised to hold a three-day hearing that starts Feb. 7. The purpose of the hearing is to investigate casino policies and oversight of executive expenses, concerns that arose after expense reports from casino executives showed what some deemed excessive spending by Byron Bighorse, the former CEO of the casinos who resigned right before the reports came out publicly in early December.

Simms has been a defender of Bighorse, whom he credits with steadily increasing casino revenues and thus tribal distributions during his eight years as CEO. (Bighorse, the son-in-law of Principal Chief Geoffrey Standing Bear, previously was a casino manager.)

When he tried to rescind his resignation from the board, Simms said he had been prompted to do so because the Osage Nation Gaming Commission had refused to allow him to surrender his gaming license – which gives regulators some leverage over him as the Commission continues to investigate expense reporting.

When he resigned, Simms wrote that his business, Accent Pest Control, had an 8(a) federal contract that he felt might put his gaming license in jeopardy.

When he tried to rescind his resignation, Simms said the Gaming Commission’s decision to refuse to accept his license was a larger message to him.

“I feel this might be a blessing as I put the contract as priority and I should have been standing with my Board no matter what the outcome is good or bad.

“As I have spoken with you and each Board member you all have expressed the respect for me and have encouraged me to stay on the board. Thus, I would feel honored to come back to the Gaming Board and help deal with these uncertain times so we can continue making record profits for our Osage people.”

Patterson wrote that Osage law has no provision allowing Simms to change his mind after he resigned on Jan. 20 “effective immediately.”

“Upon tendering his resignation, the GEB position became vacant,” Patterson wrote. “Per the Act, only the Principal Chief can make new appointments to the GEB due to board vacancies.

“… Any rescission of one’s resignation is legally indistinguishable from a reappointment to the GEB, a power reserved exclusively to the Principal Chief.”

Simms has been subpoenaed to appear before the Congressional investigative hearing on Feb. 9 along with the current board Chairman Geoff Hager, board member Julie Malone and former chairman Mark Revard, the latter of whom raised alarms about expense reports.

The hearings are set to begin Feb. 7, when eight past and present casino employees, along with Chief Standing Bear’s executive assistant, have been subpoenaed. The Day 1 witnesses include Bighorse, and his wife, former casino marketing director Jennifer Bighorse, plus other casino brass. It is questionable that Congress has the power to subpoena former employees, but as of Feb. 2, no one had filed a motion to quash any subpoenas in Osage Nation Trial Court.

On Feb. 8, witnesses will be from the regulatory side: Elizabeth Hembree, the director of the Gaming Commission, and Patrick O’Brien, the director of regulatory compliance for Osage Casinos.

The hearings will be streamed on the Osage Nation Congress’ home page,, and will be available thereafter at

Louise Red Corn

Title: Reporter


Twitter: @louiseredcorn

Languages: English, Italian, rusty but revivable Russian

Louise Red Corn has been a news reporter for 34 years and a photographer for even longer. She grew up in Northern California, the youngest child of two lawyers, her father a Pearl Harbor survivor who later became a state judge and her mother a San Francisco native who taught law at the University of California at Davis.

After graduating from the U.C. Berkley with a degree in Slavic Languages and Literatures with no small amount of coursework in Microbiology, she moved to Rome, Italy, where she worked as a photographer and wordsmith for the United Nation’s International Fund for Agricultural Development, specializing in the French-speaking countries of Africa.

When the radioactive cloud from Chernobyl parked over Rome in 1986, she escaped to New York City to work for the international editions of Time Magazine. She left Time for Knight-Ridder newspapers in Biloxi, Miss., Detroit and Lexington, Ky., During nearly 20 years with Knight-Ridder, she was a stringer (freelancer) for The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and Parade Magazine.

In 2004, she married Raymond Red Corn and moved to Oklahoma, where she worked for the Tulsa World before she bought the weekly newspaper in Barnsdall and turned a tired newspaper into the award-winning Bigheart Times, which she sold in 2018. She hired on at the Osage News in early 2022.

Throughout her career she has won dozens of state, national and international journalism awards.

Red Corn is comfortable reporting on nearly any topic, the more complex the better, but her first love is covering courts and legal issues. Her proudest accomplishment was helping to exonerate a Tennessee man facing the death penalty after he was wrongfully charged with capital murder in Kentucky, a state he had never visited.


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