For only the second time since the early 1800s, the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians Tribal Council voted to remove its chief. The council recently voted 9-3 to approve the articles of impeachment removing Principal Chief Patrick Lambert, finding him guilty of eight out of 12 articles including allegations he used his office for personal gain. Vice Chief Richard Sneed replaced Lambert as principal chief.
An attorney who served as executive director of the Tribal Gaming Commission for 22 years, Lambert was accused of signing a contract with Harrah’s Cherokee Casino in Cherokee, North Carolina to have the casino rent rooms in a hotel he owned. He also was accused of signing contracts without approval of the tribal council, and improper hiring practices, including hiring an attorney for his personal benefit.
Lambert was elected principal chief in 2015 with more than 70 percent of the vote. He had called the impeachment drive a “witch hunt” and stated, “What we just saw today was nine people. How many people in this crowd support me? I think those nine overruled 71 percent of this tribe.” However, Lambert said he accepted the decision. “I’m not angry about the impeachment. We need to stop fighting,” he said. More than a dozen Lambert supporters marched in protest outside the tribal chambers after the impeachment vote.