Group seeking recall election of tribal chairman

By: By Bob Shiles -
Harvey Godwin Jr.

PEMBROKE — A group upset with the way Lumbee Tribal Chairman Harvey Godwin Jr. is leading the tribe is calling for a recall election.

The group, “Seeing is Believing,” includes about 15 members, according to spokesperson Reba Scott. A public meeting is being held at 7 p.m. Thursday at the Native Exchange building at COMtech to discuss the proposed recall and the petition drive that must take place before a recall question can be put before tribal voters. Among them is Bosco Locklear, who was recently fired from his job as housing director for the tribe.

Scott said petitions are already circulating throughout the county, but as of Wednesday she could not say how many signatures have been collected. Only those who voted in the November chairman’s election would be eligible to cast a ballot in a recall. The constitution requires that 10 percent of the total number of people who voted in the election sign the petition in order for the effort to advance. About 5,500 votes were cast, meaning 550 signatures would be needed.

The petition states that Godwin can be “subject to recall pursuant to the Constitution of the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina for malfeasance in office.”

The petition alleges Godwin:

— Uses tribal security officers for personal security during funeral services.

— Uses federal funds to pay Housing Department employees to travel on matters not related to housing.

— Uses housing funds to pay dancers to dance at events outside tribal territory in violation of a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development audit.

— Uses Housing Department staff to provide housing services at Campbell Soup, where his private business, Two Hawk Employment Service, has a contract to provide temporary employees.

The group alleges there has been a lot of “misappropriation of funds” under Godwin’s administration, and that “people are not getting the tribal services they deserve.”

She also accused Godwin of not following through on his campaign promise to make Lumbee government transparent, and that he refuses to talk with Tribal Council members about tribe business.

Godwin, who spoiled former Chairman Paul Brooks’ re-election bid in 2015, provided a statement to The Robesonian. Multiple sources tell The Robesonian Brooks is also part of the recall effort.

“I am aware of the concerns being brought forward by members of the tribe,” he said. “First and foremost, I am here to support our people. I welcome the fact that tribal members are exercising their right within the Lumbee Constitution.

“To my knowledge, the tribal members leading this recall effort, with whom I have not met, have yet to formally submit the appropriate signatures and petition necessary to initiate the recall process to our Board of Elections. I will respond to what they believe to be grounds for removal at that time.”

Godwin said he stands by the actions he has taken as tribal leader during his first year in office.

“My administration will continue to do what, in our best judgment, is in the best interest of our tribe for the betterment of our people,” he said.

Harvey Godwin Jr. Godwin Jr.

By Bob Shiles

Bob Shiles can be reached at 910-416-5165.

Bob Shiles can be reached at 910-416-5165.