Will Snyder’s behavior at Seneca Gaming attract attention of Feds?

Barry Snyder, Sr. is the six-time former President of the Seneca Nation of Indians and the Seneca Gaming Corporation’s current Chairman. For the last year and a half Seneca Gaming has gone without a Chief Executive, since shortly after Snyder architected a deal with the Tribal Council to appoint him Chairman. He then anointed longtime ally Moe John as the next President.

Since former CEO Cathy Walker left, the Chief Operations Officer, Chief Financial Officer, and General Counsel have all reported directly to the Board. Many who are familiar with the arrangement say that Snyder is acting in the role as Chairman and CEO — a position of unprecedented control over a multi-billion dollar asset.

The vacant position comes with an $800,000 salary.

The arrangement has many Seneca voters concerned. Those voters are currently weighting who might run for President later this year, and Snyder’s Seneca Party already has a reputation for vote buying, self-dealing, corruption, and theft from the Nation.

Snyder and his dealings with former Councillor Bergal Mitchell III and the Hickory Stick Golf Course is the reason why the Council passed a law in 2010 to prevent the President from simultaneously serving as Seneca Gaming Chairman. Mitchell, a close Snyder confidant, had orchestrated a real estate transaction that allowed him to pocket a few hundred thousand dollars.

In Seneca circles, it was widely thought that the $22 million cost of constructing that golf course included vastly more graft that was never prosecuted.

Now, Snyder is promoting Councillor Ross John as the Nation’s next President. Many voters worry that arrangement would allow the tail to wag the dog, giving the gaming corporation too much control over the governance and direction of the Nation.

Nikki Seneca, a popular young Councillor from the Nation’s Cattaraugus Territory, is rumored to be considering a run for President. Her candidacy would represent a distinct generational break from the Nation’s current leadership, and she would be the first woman to ever hold the position in the Seneca Nation’s history.

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