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Two members depart from Gaming Enterprise Board

Chief Standing Bear did not reappoint Mark Revard to gaming board, Susan Breeden failed to garner support from Osage Congress for confirmation

Mark Revard, who served six years on the Osage Nation’s Gaming Enterprise Board, most recently as chairman, is moving on.

On April 21, he wrote an open letter to the Nation in which he expressed his appreciation for Chief Geoffrey Standing Bear, the Osage Congress, the Gaming Commission and his fellow board members, and noted that his relationship with Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt impacted his reappointment to a third term.

Revard is one of two gaming board members who is out: The Congress did not confirm the reappointment of Susan Breeden, in part because they were looking for board members with more of what Speaker Angela Pratt described as “spine.”

Revard’s farewell letter is upbeat.

“It is with gracious spirit that I write this letter of appreciation to the Office of the Principal Chief, Geoffrey Standing Bear, the 7th Osage Nation Congress, the Gaming Commission Board, and the Gaming Enterprise Board,” Revard wrote. “As my second term on the Gaming Enterprise Board comes to an end and I hand over the Chairman’s gavel to a fellow board member, I humbly say thank you for having allowed me the opportunity to serve our great nation.”

The Stitt factor

Revard is the Divisional Executive Vice President of Gateway Mortgage in Tulsa, a company founded by Stitt in 2000. Stitt stepped down as the company’s chief executive in August 2018 before he secured the nomination for governor, but that distance apparently has not been enough to appease the many tribes, including Osage, that he has rankled with his anti-tribal actions over the past three-plus years.

“For clarification, Governor Stitt is a major shareholder in the company for which I work and in no way has he ever influenced my decisions as a board member, nor has he ever tried,” Revard said in his letter. “I have served with honor and integrity and outside any third party or tribal influence.”

Early in his administration, Stitt tried to bully Oklahoma tribes with casinos into negotiating a new gaming compact in 2019, a battle the tribes fought vehemently and ultimately won: The existing compact automatically renewed, as the tribes had argued it would, an argument with which the Oklahoma Supreme Court decidedly agreed.

More recently, Stitt has been fighting the Oklahoma v. McGirt decision handed down by the U.S. Supreme Court that ruled that the reservations of the Five Civilized Tribes still exist in Eastern Oklahoma. That decision has affected thousands of Native American defendants who are facing charges in tribal or federal court instead of state court, but it was also a major win for tribal sovereignty.

In response to Stitt, 33 of 39 tribes in Oklahoma formed a coalition called United for Oklahoma, which is devoted to raising awareness of tribal impact in the state but with an underlying goal of undermining Stitt’s anti-sovereignty efforts. Any whiff of a relationship with Stitt can cast a tribe in bad stead with the coalition, which is adamant in its opposition to him.

A family history of service

Revard said in his letter that his service on the Gaming Enterprise Board has allowed him to “continue in the shadow” of his great-grandfather Franklin N. Revard, his father George E. Revard and alongside his brother Paul Revard and cousins Jodie Revard and Julie Malone in positions of tribal leadership – Malone as a fellow member of the gaming board. 

“Having grown up in Tulsa I have always been proud of my Osage heritage and admittedly not been exposed to all aspects of our remarkable culture,” he added. “This time of service has allowed me to grow closer to all things Osage and lit a burning flame in me to continue service in some form or fashion.”

“During my past six years, I am proud to have been involved in the acquisition of the Osage Nation Ranch, the expansion of our flagship Tulsa casino and purchase of surrounding acreage, the building of new casinos in Bartlesville and Pawhuska, the acquisition of land in Osage Beach, Missouri, for our future gaming expansion and for having created a new emergency reserve fund to help guarantee continued operations during unforeseen situations. I have learned a great deal about tribal gaming, about our tribe and about myself.”

Chief Standing Bear praised Revard on April 25: “On behalf of the Osage Nation, I thank Mark Revard for his contributions to Osage Casinos that resulted in the betterment of the services and programs that serve the Osage people.”

Replacements not yet named

Standing Bear did not comment on who or when a replacement for Revard or Breeden would be named to the board.

The other remaining members of the board are: Geoff Hagar, CEO of Big Elk Energy, who automatically becomes chair after Revard’s departure; Julie Malone, a retired casino manager and business person who is now vice-chair after Breeden’s departure; and Mark Simms, owner of Accent Pest Control in Bartlesville, who is now Secretary/Treasurer of the board.

In addition to refusing to confirm Breeden by an 8-4 vote with Congress members Joe Tillman, Billy Keene, John Maker and Eli Potts at the short end of the vote, another confirmation on the last day of the Hun-Kah session on April 21 also proved sticky: That of Nancy Benthien on the Osage LLC board.

Second Speaker Jodie Revard said she didn’t want Benthien on the LLC board because Benthien is the sister of Jim Trumbly, who heads up one of the LLC’s subsidiaries, Osage Innovative Services.

“I read her resume; the resume is strong,” Revard said, adding that she was worried about the appearance of nepotism.

Benthien worked for many years in management at Halliburton and lately has been working as a management coach for oil, technology and other companies.

Throughout the Nation, Revard said there are too many relatives working with or around each other: “There’s no separation. I think it’s unprofessional. It’s about the optics.

“On my Coshehe side, there aren’t very many of us but on my Revard side, they’re everywhere.

“I would never take advantage of that situation. That’s just not who I am.”

Others didn’t share Revard’s concern about the Benthien-Trumbly relationship enough to vote no: Benthien was confirmed 8-4, this time with Tillman, Keene, Maker and Revard at the short end.

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Louise Red Cornhttps://osagenews.org
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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