Swett says he’s staying

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Shiles, Bob, Ali Rockett. "Swett says he's staying." Robesonian [Lumberton, NC] May 19, 2011.


Lumbee Tribal Chairman Purnell Swett says he is not leaving office. Tribal Council Speaker Steve Sampson said that he never received the letter from the chairman stating that he was not going to resign.

The news came as a surprise to many tribal members, including Welford Clark, a former Tribal Council member and candidate for tribal chairman.

“In light of the chairman’s recent action, immediate steps will now be taken by those wanting a recall. I hope the Elections Board will take action in time for a new chairman to be elected in November,” Clark said. “We will go forward now with a recall with more speed and energy than there would have been otherwise.”

In the new letter to Sampson, dated May 17, 2011, Swett vows to stay in “until such time as we have had adequate opportunity to respond and initiate corrective action as presented in the federal monitoring report of the office of Eastern Woodland Native American Program of the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development.”

The tribal government is facing a 30-day deadline to respond to findings of an unannounced on-site review of tribal finances. As a result of the report, the tribe must repay to the federal government more than $114,500 in housing money.

Swett took office in January of 2010 and still had just over a year and half remaining on his term. Sharon Hunt, the tribe's vice chairperson, is supposed to take over for Swett until a special election can be held.

“We (council members) have accepted his resignation and that’s it,” Sampson said. “As of noon Monday [May 23, 2011], Sharon Hunt will be chairman of the Lumbee Tribe.”

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