Lumbee Supreme Court: Chairman overstepped bounds with administrator contract

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Brooks, Drew. "Lumbee Supreme Court: Chairman overstepped bounds with administrator contract." Fayetteville Observer. May 7, 2011.


The Lumbee Supreme Court ruled that Tribal Chairman Purnell Swett overstepped his bounds with the administrator contract for Rose Marie Lowry-Townsend.

Tribal Council members have said they agreed to only a one-year contract of between $96,000 and $106,000 for the administrator, Rose Marie Lowry-Townsend. They later learned that Lowry-Townsend's contract included an automatic two-year extension unless notified before the end of her first term.

When Swett approved the extension and the increase in pay, without consulting the Tribal Council, he exceeded his authority. The case reached the Lumbee Supreme Court when Swett claimed the Council could not fire Lowry-Townsend.

"We ruled that the tribal chairman exceeded his authority in extending the contract for greater than the one year the Tribal Council approved," said Chief Supreme Court Judge Gary Locklear.

This is the latest in legal battles between Swett and the Tribal Council. In March 2011, the Supreme Court struck down an ordinance that would have given the Tribal Council authority to review and block midyear spending decisions by the tribal chairman because the ordinance was too far reaching.

Even with the court ruling, it is unclear what will happen to Lowry-Townsend or Swett. And the court ruling does not address any other aspect of the contract, the terms of which were withheld from the Tribal Council for nearly a year.

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