|If ifs and buts were candy and nuts... |
and a big IF from a gaming commissioner.
Thanks to a tip from a reader, and some information that came up in the rules committee meeting, it looks like the guy who is singlehandedly responsible for keeping the UKB’s casino open (even though the state wants to shut it down), is now being appointed by Bill John Baker to be a gaming commissioner for the Cherokee Nation.
A few years back, John Garrett was a judge in Adair County. The state of Oklahoma was threatening to shut down the UKB’s casino. And John Garrett signed a document, that to this day, is the only reason the casino is open. He signed an order, since appealed in the federal court, that said the state couldn’t enforce the law, and that even though the UKB’s casino wasn’t on trust land, they couldn’t be shut down.
For that, John Garrett was awarded a seat on the UKB’s Supreme Court, which is a pretty good gig, we guess. He kept that job up until the time that something better came along: a chance to be gaming commissioner for Cherokee Nation.
When he was being questioned in committee, Garrett was part of this exchange (about 45 minutes into the December Rules committee meeting)
Cara Cowan Watts: “How do you feel about the UKB’s claims to land in our jurisdiction?”
Garrett: “If I’m approved as a gaming commissioner, my loyalty is of course to the Cherokee Nation.”
CCW: “So it just depends on who you work for?”
Garrett: “Well….” (awkward pause….)”
Later on, Garrett reiterated his “If’ statement, making it clear that, like any good lawyer, he would be happy to take the Cherokee Nation’s side as long as the council approved him, hired him and paid him.
Garrett admitted to helping the UKB back in the day when he was a judge and at one point acted like he didn’t have a choice but to give the UKB what they wanted in court, even though it was obviously a federal issue and today, more than half a decade later, the federal court is still weighing its options on a case Garrett decided in the UKB's favor in a single day.
In the end, six council members thought the UKB Casino’s best friend (who says he would switch his loyalty “If” the council approved him) was not the right guy to oversee the Cherokee Nation’s casinos. 10 council members, and of course, Chief Baker, thought he would be a good choice. Oh yeah, one more thing: in the confirmation process, Garrett admitted he gave Baker’s campaign $2,000. Merry Christmas.