Denson criticizes fed's '11 raid
Wednesday, April 2, 2014 1:00 AM
Beasley Denson intends to be a candidate for Choctaw Tribal Chief in June 2015, he told the Democrat on Tuesday, outlining in a lengthy press release how he will "set the record" straight about the FBI raid at Pearl River Resort in 2011 while he was Chief.
Since losing his bid for re-election in 2011, Denson said he had been on vacation.
"I'm getting tired of vacation," he said with a laugh in a telephone interview.
Denson said there hadn't been any indictments in the three years since the FBI investigation.
A FBI spokesperson on Tuesday afternoon said it was the agency's policy to not discuss an ongoing investigation.
Denson said he had worked for the Tribal government for 30 to 35 years.
"I understand accountability to federal funds as well as Tribal funds," he said. "To this day, I have a question: Why did they raid Choctaw?"
A search warrant was executed by the FBI on July 12, 2011, in the middle of an election dispute.
Ten candidates challenged Denson on June 14, 2011. The election ended in a run-off between he and Phyliss J. Anderson on July 5.
The run-off ended with Anderson declared the winner with 55 percent of the vote.
However, on July 8, the Tribal Council heard an appeal over alleged voting irregularities with members deadlocked 8-8 over whether to throw out the first election. Denson broke the tie, throwing out the election.
A new election was ordered and Anderson unseated Denson with 56 percent of the vote on Sept. 6, 2011.
In the FBI raid in July 2011, about 40 agents arrived at the Resort at about 7:30 a.m. and copied computer drives and gathered other information.
The FBI investigation centered on the Golden Moon and Silver Star casinos and did not involve any Tribal government offices, a source knowledgeable of the situation told the Democrat at the time.
Denson said Tuesday that there were a lot of questions raised about him and the FBI raid and that he wanted to "make sure that it doesn't haunt" him in his bid for Chief.
"I see that there are a lot of issues to be handled," he said. "If you put somebody inexperienced in a position you can be lucky and get things right but I don't see that in the present administration. I just want to set the tone while everybody still has questions."
Denson was first elected to the Tribal Council in 1975 and during his five terms he served as both secretary-treasurer and as vice chief.
In 2007, he unseated longtime Chief Phillip Martin by 211 votes, or 53 percent, to win his first term as chief.
In 2011, Anderson defeated Denson with nearly 60 percent of the vote to become the first female to lead the 10,000-member Tribe that is headquartered in Neshoba County.
In June 2013, Denson ran an unsuccessful campaign for Tribal Council member from the Standing Pine community.
Denson said he still resides in Leake County.
Following is the statement he released to the Democrat on Tuesday:
Former Chief Beasley Denson of the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians is setting the record straight and is making his statement on what happened at the Pearl River Resort in his four years from 2007 to 2011 as the proven successful leader and Chief of the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Tribe:
During the previous election, the FBI was brought in to oversee the election because there was a second runoff and outside influences played a role convincing the FBI to come in as a watch dog for the elections.
I believe that once the FBI was brought in to oversee the elections, a certain member of the tribe and outside influences convinced the FBI to raid the casinos, and by doing so brought concern to all the Tribe. What people do not know is that the FBI has always wanted access to Choctaw casino business ever since the beginning when the Pearl River Resort Casinos were built. For the first time in history, they were given the opportunity that has always been protected under sovereignty Indian nations.
An article posted at http://legalschnauzer.blogspot.com/2011/07/fbi-has-raided-mississippi-choctaw supports my view of the raid. And what did the FBI uncover in this politically-motivated raid? Absolutely nothing.
Why? Because I ran our Tribe by the book. I even went so far as to bring in Retired Air Force General Paul Harvey, former Director of the Mississippi Gaming Commission, to consult with me on handling our operations legally, properly and profitably. Take a look at his credentials.
In addition to serving as the Director of the Mississippi Gaming Commission, General Harvey served 32 years in the Air Force, retiring in 1991 at Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi. Harvey flew 160 combat missions in Vietnam and Southeast Asia. He held command positions at the Pentagon and in Europe, Africa and the Middle East.
While serving as commander of the 76th Military Airlift Division at Andrews Air Force Base during the Reagan administration, he oversaw the operations of Air Force One and aircraft used by members of Congress.
A native of Salt Lake City, Harvey was a graduate of Miami University (Ohio) and had a master's degree from Central Michigan University. He also was a graduate of the Industrial College of the Armed Forces at the National Defense University in Washington D.C. General Paul A. Harvey died on August 21, 2012, and was honorably buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
When I first brought in General Harvey, I asked him if he was the man for the job, the man who could assist us in bringing success to our tribe.
I still remember the General smiling and saying, "I am the only man for the job."
I remember all the times that I consulted with him on all of our operations. He would always advise me truthfully and always made careful decisions that would steer us in the right direction, both from a legally and a profitability standpoint. And we succeeded.
Unfortunately, dirty politics of this kind exist all over the United States between different parties, and I understand that our tribe is new to manipulation by outsiders conspiring with Choctaw politics for their own gain like wolves in sheep clothing.
Some politicians will sell out at whatever cost for their own ego, making promises they do not keep and running on the legacy of others instead of remembering who they are and what it means to stand up for their people, as I have proven many times. I have always been the leader who brings what is best for our people and am proud to be Choctaw.
This is why I am still seen as Choctaw First. I believe in God, family, friends, culture and tradition, but I also know that we must move forward and not backwards.
My experience and ability to bring jobs to our Tribe has been proven. I have a plan to move our tribe forward and beyond with education, jobs and expansion. It is hard work, but you must walk the talk when you are in office. Results will be needed instead of excuses.
When I was Chief, I did not micro manage our employees. As a matter of fact, I hired qualified leaders and trained our people so that one day they could be able to be those leaders. In addition, I created new jobs such as when I brought in the new Bok Homa casino in the Laurel area. That casino was built with the expansion blue prints already in place.
One thing I don't understand, though, is why I had so much opposition from former Governor Haley Barbour and other Republicans when it came down to our rights on our reservation to build the Bok Homa Casino.
I never understood the reason he publically attacked our Tribe. It is our right to expand and grow when we too are bringing in tourism like the casinos in the coast. I also do not understand why now under Chief Phyliss J. Anderson, no Republican has risen against her trying to build the Redwater casino in Carthage, Mississippi.
Is it because Bok Homa was too close to the gulf coast casinos? Is there a link between politicians using government officials when it came down to the FBI raid? Was our current Chief involved with outside politicians who conspired to help her win the election by having the FBI raid the casinos during our elections? I believed that it is our tribal responsibility to handle our affairs and not be controlled by the government. We have our own government.
I believe that time can teach us many things. In these three years that I have been out of office, I had plenty of time to visit old friends and also some adversaries. I have listened to my people and have learned from my personal mistakes.
Time has a way of humbling a person, especially when we know we were born to make a difference. I am glad that this time away has made me listen to what the Tribe wants and needs. The slogan that I used in my previous campaign was Choctaw First. I chose this slogan because I believe that the needs of the Choctaw should always be first in the mind of the Chief. That was my first thought when making decisions as your Chief.
I brought jobs to our people. I came into office at an already down economy and did the best and beyond. My friends tell me that one of my problems was that I never bragged about the accomplishments, such as buying the now Dancing Rabbit Hotel at a real bargain price because of my future plans for our tribe moving forward during a down economy. I also was able to select a great location for another casino, the Bok Homa, which is currently doing great. But we cannot afford to go backwards.
Infrastructure and opportunities currently are being ignored. We need to evaluate the opportunity to expand the Bok Homa casino. We designed it for expansion. When the economy becomes stabilized and begins to improve, we need to look into our other land north of Memphis, Tennessee called Henning, Tennessee.
I believe we must look at other venues, too, and not just gaming. During the four years that I was Chief, we brought in the best concerts that quickly filled our stores, restaurants, and hotels, including those surrounding cities. We stood out in the gaming and entertainment industry. I tried to be generous with the surrounding municipalities, because my belief has always been teamwork. I always did my best to make wise decisions and followed through with my promises. From a philosophical standpoint, I never borrowed excessive money for our Tribe. Instead, I always looked for other solutions to pay down our debt. We need to be careful about borrowing money. It comes with a very big price tag.
Part of my leadership skills and philosophy were influenced by Chief Phillip Martin. Chief Martin and I worked together when he was Chief. We were once a team. As with any team, there were times we disagreed and times we agreed.
Sometimes we had different visions, but we always respected each other and worked together to do what was best for our people.
As a result of that experience and my other years of leadership experience, my vision is now brighter and better, and I have learned to be humble before God.
In order to lead, we must first accept who we are and where we came from. I have always embraced my culture with pride, and I am ready to lead my people once again for a brighter future. With the help of my people, especially our elders, I will create more jobs, help our schools, protect our housing program and help those who need help.
I will work with those who want the opportunity to succeed, keep my promises as I have in the past, and serve my people with dignity and honor by simply doing what is best for our community and not my own agenda. I have heard my people, and I am ready to lead our Tribe.
I am Beasley Denson, proud to be Choctaw. May God bless you.