January 3, 2023 3 min read


Seminole Tribe Lashes Back against Alleged Whistleblowers

The Seminole Tribal Council threatened to expel three members after they drew public attention to transparency issues regarding the tribe’s recent $3 million vaccination lottery and raised allegations of corruption and misappropriation

A successful petition to investigate the lottery further destabilized the situation as parties threatened legal action.

A Vaccination Lottery Gone Wrong Sparked Tensions

The ongoing controversy began after the Seminole Tribe held a vaccination lottery using $3 million of COVID-19 federal relief funds to incentivize tribal members to vaccinate against the virus. With a grand prize of $1 million, the initiative was largely successful as many tribe members decided to participate. However, things quickly turned sour when it came time to pick the winners.

Soon after the drawing, tribe leaders announced that the winners would remain anonymous, immediately sparking concerns over the lottery’s legitimacy. Rumors quickly started to circulate that the Tribal Council chairman’s underage son won the grand prize, and several disgruntled members organized a successful petition for a third-party investigation.

An article by the Florida Bulldog investigated the situation, gathering statements from all involved parties. Council chairman Marcellus Osceola denied all allegations, explaining that the lottery winners were not made public due to health records privacy requirements. However, discontent continued to build up, causing the Council to take more drastic measures.

Three Members Are in Danger of Expulsion

A recent update revealed that the Tribal Council threatened to disenroll three of its members. Cousins Laura and Lesley Billie spoke out against the lack of transparency and organized the petition that kicked off the ongoing scandal. Virgil “Benny” Motlow wrote an article in a non-Seminole-affiliated newspaper, levying corruption allegations against the Council.

The Council will likely discuss the trio’s fate during their next meeting on 20 January. In the meantime, the alleged whistleblowers received a 60-day ban from entering any tribal government buildings or schools. A Council letter to Laura Billie reveals the official motives for the decision, admonishing her for contacting off-reservation.

“The ramifications are serious and can possibly jeopardize the welfare of the Seminole Tribe and its Members.

Seminole Tribal Council letter to Laura Billie

The document asked Billie to cease any contact with outside media outlets and cease to spread unsubstantiated and false allegations. Chairman Osceola threatened to press slander charges, but Laura Billie denied any ill intent. She stated that the news outlet story presented facts, implying that the Council was abusing its power to silence critics.

Despite the Seminole Tribal Council’s attempts to limit information regarding the case, the growing controversy continues to attract media attention as the situation heats up. If expelled, the three members will lose access to monthly subsidies of $10,500 and the freedom to live or travel on Seminole reservations. Legal action is possible but difficult, given that this is a Tribal affair, but the situation may continue to escalate.

Deyan is an experienced writer, analyst, and seeker of forbidden lore. He has approximate knowledge about many things, which he is always willing to apply when researching and preparing his articles. With a degree in Copy-editing and Proofreading, Deyan is able to ensure that his work writing for GamblingNews is always up to scratch.

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