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Congressional committee to investigate casino management spending

Congressional signatures obtained to call a Special Session for Nov. 21

The Osage Nation Congressional Commerce, Gaming and Land Committee is investigating Osage Casinos management spending activities, which could be the subject of future meetings and a special session.

At its Nov. 2 and Oct. 19 meetings, the commerce committee took up a “Gaming Commission Report Discussion,” which was held during a closed-door executive session. In accordance with Osage law, the Congressional committees may meet in executive sessions for matters requiring confidentiality including personnel matters, legal advice and proprietary business matters.

According to the Congressional rules, standing committees (including Commerce) are authorized “to maintain a continuous review of the work of the government agencies and offices concerned with their subject areas.”

At the two meetings, the committee convened in public with committee chair and Congresswoman Jodie Revard presiding. Other Congress members currently seated on the committee are Brandy Lemon (vice chair), Otto Hamilton, Billy Keene, Paula Stabler and Joe Tillman.

The October committee meeting adjourned with no actions following the executive session. At the November meeting, the committee reconvened in a public meeting after that day’s executive session and Keene asked to be recognized and made a motion for committee vote.

“I make a motion to hold a Commerce, Gaming and Land Committee hearing to investigate the Gaming Enterprise Board approval of the expenses of the (Osage) Casino executive officers on a date set by Chairwoman Revard,” Keene said.

Revard took a voice vote with all six members voting “yes” on the motion. Afterward, Revard said she would contact committee members to find out their availability for setting the next meeting date. Then the committee voted to adjourn.

On Nov. 3, Congressional signatures were obtained to call a special session, which is scheduled for Nov. 21 at 10 a.m. Currently, “Reclassification of Records,” is the lone item on the agenda.

Casinos shift advertising focus

Advertisements for Osage Casinos will no longer appear in the Osage News print edition. After 16 years, a media buyer for the Casinos informed News Editor Shannon Shaw Duty that due to “budget cuts” the casinos can no longer advertise with the News. However, that statement was walked back two days later by Mike McGuire, director of the Casinos Marketing department. He said the casinos were not making budget cuts at this time but moving away from advertising in traditional print media. He said they would be happy to review the News’ online advertising rates.

Osage Casinos has had advertisements in the Osage News print edition since 2006. The only other time advertisements for Osage Casinos weren’t in the News was in 2020 during the Covid-19 Pandemic, when the casinos temporarily halted operations. Each year the Casinos bought approximately $15,000 in print advertising.

Osage Casinos CEO Byron Bighorse did not respond to a request for comment.

To view filed legislation and the Congressional calendar for scheduled sessions and committee meetings, go online to:

Editor’s Note: A version of this story was published in the November 2022 print edition but has since been updated for online publication.

Benny Polacca
Benny Polacca started at the Osage News in 2009 as a reporter and has covered various stories and events impacting the Osage Nation and Osage people. Polacca is part of the News team awarded the Native American Journalist Association’s Elias Boudinot Free Press Award in 2014 and other NAJA Media Awards and SPJ Oklahoma Pro Chapter awards for news coverage and photography. Polacca is an Arizona State University graduate and participated in the former American Indian Journalism Institute at the University of South Dakota. He previously worked at The Forum newspaper covering the Fargo, N.D. region as the weeknight reporter.

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