The petition to recall Mashpee Wampanoag Tribal Council treasurer Gordon Harris received 120 signatures, certified by the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribal Election Committee this week, which moves the petition another step forward.
Rita Lopez, election committee chairperson, signed off on the the final certification of the signatures on Tuesday, June 11.
Mr. Harris is the second tribal council member subject to a recall proceeding beyond the needed 100 signatures. Tribal council chairman Cedric D. Cromwell is also subject to a recall that received more than 100 signatures.
A petition had circulated for the recall of vice chairwoman Jessie (Little Doe) Baird but the petition did not receive enough certified signatures.
Aaron Tobey Jr. has helped lead the recall effort. The tribal council member said that Mr. Harris has failed to compile an audit of the Mashpee Tribe Gaming Authority, which has been asked of him. The gaming authority has led the tribe’s efforts to build a casino in Taunton. Some tribal members have criticized its spending and what they say is a lack of transparency.
Tribal finances were also the subject of a stinging audit released earlier this year. The audit, conducted by an outside firm, noted a number of accounting practices that the tribe needed to improve.
Additionally, Mr. Harris has been called out for missing a number of tribal council meetings; he is paid more than $70,000, and the petition states his absence is a dereliction of duties.
Mr. Harris did not respond for comment.
Tribal citizens involved in the process are waiting for a date for a hearing, which would be followed by a tribe-wide vote. Mr. Tobey said that both Mr. Cromwell’s and Mr. Harris’s hearings will likely take place on the same day.
Mr. Tobey has said that he is doing what he was elected to do by organizing these recalls, collecting signatures, and bringing charges forward. He said that he is fighting for transparency and for bringing back respect to the tribal council.