Townsend: No conflict of interest - Tribal councilman says others violating policy

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Shiles, Bob. “Townsend: No conflict of interest – Tribal councilman says others violating policy.” The Robesonian (Lumberton, NC) January 2, 2016.


Larry Townsend, a member of the Lumbee Tribal Council, said he is being targeted by fellow members of the council. Townsend, who was denied council voting rights over a year prior on conflict-of-interest allegations petitioned the Lumbee Supreme Court for reinstatement of those voting rights. The conflict of interest that was alleged was because of Townsend’s wife, who is employed by the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina.

Townsend represented himself in the court, stating he believed he was being held to a higher standard than the rest of his peers on the council, a standard that they themselves do not meet. He called many of the members of the council to the stand, showing that they also have family members employed by the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina, yet their ethics are not questioned.

In fact, 13 of the 21 members of the council were proven to have family members employed by the tribe, including four of the five members of the Ethics Committee, which ended up recommending that the sanctions be lifted from Townsend and his voting rights be reinstated.

The Lumbee Supreme Court did not reach a decision, but that could happen in the coming week. One community activist noted that, depending on the verdict and how it is handled, this decision could lead to the court abolishing the council based on it not having a quorum.

Some believe that could be a good thing, as the council, which represents 21 different districts, was meant to have one member from each district. The current council has 21 members representing only 14 districts. 

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