NARRAGANSETT, R.I. (WPRI) — Members of Rhode Island’s Narragansett Indian Tribe have voted to impeach their Chief Sachem of nearly two decades, Matthew Thomas.
“He’s done,” said Tribal Election Committee member Darlene Monroe.
Monroe told Eyewitness News members of the tribe’s executive board voted to impeach Thomas Thursday; the full tribal assembly unanimously agreed in a vote taken Saturday morning.
The decision to impeach Thomas comes 10 months after Target 12 uncovered records showing he obtained a Florida driver’s license and at the same time registered as a Florida voter. According to Florida law, Florida residency is a requirement to register to vote.
However, according to Narragansett Indian tribal election rules, the chief must live in the state of Rhode Island or within a 50-mile radius.
“That is one of the main points, is that he does not live here,” said Monroe, who added that Thomas’ residency issue is just one of many problems that led to his impeachment.
According to the Rhode Island Secretary of State’s office, Thomas’ Rhode Island voting rights were canceled in March, 2015 for “him moving out of state.” Florida tax assessor’s records show that Thomas owns a home in Port Charlotte.
In order to contest his impeachment, Monroe said Thomas would need to appeal to the U.S. Department of the Interior. In the meantime, Monroe said the tribe will determine how to move forward with replacing Thomas, whose term was set to expire in October, 2017.
Thomas did not return an email seeking comment on the vote.