Oklahoma congressional candidate lied about Cherokee heritage for presidential appointment
Businesswoman Terry Neese, a Republican running to unseat Congresswoman Kendra Horn in Oklahoma's Fifth District, lied about having Cherokee ancestry in order to secure presidential appointments from Presidents George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton, an investigation from Oklahoma City's KFOR has uncovered.
In the early 1990s, President George H. W. Bush appointed Neese to be a Commissioner on the National Advisory Council on Indian Education, a position she was reappointed to in 1993 by President Bill Clinton. During this time, Neese allegedly presented her resume to a congressional committee claiming "Native American Heritage - Cherokee Indian" as a prerequisite for her appointment to the Council, which by federal law requires all 15 Commissioners to be enrolled tribal members.
When KFOR requested information from the Cherokee Nation regarding Neese's citizenship in the tribe, the Cherokee Nation's Communications Department said, "We do not have any Cherokee Nation citizens by those names and DOB in our registration database." The other two federally recognized Cherokee tribes released similar statements.
While it is not uncommon for non-Indian individuals to grow up hearing family stories about claimed Indian ancestry, it is especially troubling when politicians like Ms. Neese or Senator Elizabeth Warren are found to have weaponized that claimed ancestry as a means of political or monetary gain, while so many tribal citizens are not offered the same opportunities.
Terry Neese will face State Senator Stephanie Bice in the Republican Primary runoff on Tuesday, August 25th. The winner will face incumbent Congresswoman Kendra Horn, Democrat, in the November 3rd general election. Oklahoma's fifth congressional district encompasses Seminole County, Pottawatomie County, and most of Oklahoma county.