Locked in a heated election campaign, leaders of the Seneca Indian Nation have scheduled a news conference for this morning to discuss allegations of “possible fraud surrounding the whereabouts of millions of dollars meant for the Seneca people.”
While Seneca officials declined to comment on the specifics, The Buffalo News learned that tribal officials will discuss a matter involving Barry E. Snyder Sr., a four-time Seneca Nation president who is one of the candidates in the tribe’s Nov. 6 election.
Seneca President Robert Odawi Porter and Tribal Council Chairman Richard E. Nephew – who is running against Snyder and three other candidates – said they could not reveal what will be discussed at the event.
“[Seneca officials will] announce an investigation into possible fraud surrounding the whereabouts of millions of dollars meant for the Seneca people,” the Senecas said in a news release.
Snyder told The News he has “no idea” what will be discussed but said he has nothing to hide. He said he is certain the current Seneca Nation leadership will be trying to discredit him “for political reasons.”
“I have no idea what they’re talking about. They’ll try anything,” Snyder said. “I think they are feeling the heat of the election. A lot of people are going with me.”
In a very hard-fought election campaign, Snyder and Nephew are running against Cyrus Schindler, a former president; former Erie County Sheriff’s Detective Norman “Cochise” Redeye and businessman Aaron Pierce. Porter cannot run for re-election because Seneca Nation laws bar anyone from serving as president two terms in a row.
The winner of the presidential election will control 1,300 tribal government jobs and have influence over the spending of hundreds of millions of dollars annually by the tribe and its gaming corporation, which runs three casinos.
Candidates, particularly Nephew and Snyder, have been trading heated accusations.
Nephew has raised numerous questions in recent weeks about Snyder’s involvement in a $900,000 land fraud involving the Senecas’ Hickory Stick golf course in Lewiston. A former lawyer for Snyder and a former top aide to Snyder have been implicated in federal court charges, but Snyder has not been charged in the case, which was investigated by the FBI.
Reliable sources told The News that the scheduled news conference will not focus on the golf course, but another financial matter involving Barry Snyder.
Snyder served as president before Porter, who took office in 2010.