HOLLYWOOD (CBS4) – The Seminole Tribe of Florida has a new chairman with a familiar name and face. Eight years after he was impeached as chairman of the Seminole Tribe of Florida amid financial scandal, James Billie was re-elected to his old job by a landslide on Monday.

Billie ousted two-term chairman Mitchell Cypress.

In polling 58.4 percent of the 1,757 votes cast, Billie led an electoral house-cleaning that saw several other long-entrenched tribal leaders defeated in bids to stay in office, according to results released by tribe spokesman Gary Bitner.

Among the losers were Hollywood council representative Max B. Osceola Jr., board of directors president Richard Bowers Jr., and David Cypress, the younger brother of Mitchell Cypress.

David Cypress was seeking to regain the Big Cypress reservation council seat he resigned last summer after the National Indian Gaming Commission announced an investigation of his spending.

Billie, 67, who led the Hollywood-based tribe for 23 years, started a high-stakes bingo operation in 1979. It opened the door to the multi-billion dollar gaming industry that has brought great wealth to the Seminoles and many other Native American tribes.

Gaming in Florida generates gross revenues of $2 billion a year, according to the Indian Gaming Industry Report, and most comes from the Seminoles’ Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood and six other casinos in the state.

Billie, a charismatic but often controversial tribal leader, attempted a political comeback in 2007, charging that he was unfairly ousted four years earlier.

“In my heart, I’m still Chief of the tribe. They stole it from me,” he said in announcing his candidacy.

But at the last minute his name was stricken from the ballot after officials ruled he did not meet the residency requirement.

Billie could not be reached for comment on Tuesday.

The new officers will be sworn in on June 6, Bitner said.

(©2011 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

Comments (10)
  1. Alan says:

    James Billie in the eyes of his people and the White man who experienced his great wisdom has always been a Great Chief of the Seminoles . It was through his Guidance that his tribe as well as others across the USA and Canada enjoy the fruits of his work . He is a Man’s Man and a Woman’s dream even at 67.
    I’ve been fortunate to do business with him when he was Chief and when he labored building Chickee Huts. Nothing was different either time . In addition , he is a great singer .

  2. Light Hawk says:

    “gross revenues of $2 billion a year”

    Where is that money going?

    Why don’t they build new schools, pay great teachers and instill some values in their children?

    These questions have been asked before – but we need to ask the media to focus some light and not let go till we get some answers!

    1. T.motlow says:

      TThe seminole students are enrolled in top private schools of their choice and colleges,, all paid for by the tribe… And the best doctors in the world,, all paid for by the tribe,,and any sport they want to play all paid for by the tribe.

  3. Jstacy says:

    Apparently the Seminole people don’t agree with you since they voted him back in by a big majority. I guess his leadership is a lot more desirable than the leadership they had. One thing is for sure,,,James Billie never would have agreed to the huge give-away compact cyprus signed with the state!

  4. Alfhild says:

    My congratulations to Billie !

    1. AD Smith says:

      Well it is about time. From a fellow VN vet and grandson of Dan Smith and Mary McDuffie welcome home. Looking forward to sitting around a fire when the Phish come back to the Swamp and telling stories. By the way we are old men now

  5. Sideliner says:

    Couple comments; the Jet is used strictly by council and upper managment only upon approval of the avaition division and is billed to the dept accordingly. All big organizations have a jet. Don’t look at the Jet but the benefits it provides to doing business. I know the tribe well, and yes there is extensive cooruption and pray that James Billie can follow the laws as it is very different now than it was 8 years ago. There are many great people working at the tribe and a few not so great. I fully expect his first few weeks to have many head out the door, some on own choice as they know him and others fired. Hopefully he makes the right decisions. Getting rid of some of the best people there will hurt long run. Policies need to be put in place, tracked and reported on for the people to see. This is their money and they should be able to see. Focus should be on the people, their health, education, and overall future. Drugs are crazy and needs to be addressed agressively. Getting people to work should also be a priority; can just sit home because you get a dividend. My experience tells me huge mistakes will be made in the beginning and lots of “oh no” responses later. I hope not and wish the tribe the best; just not sure James Billie is that “best”

  6. T.motlow says:

    As a tribal member all I can say is ohhhh noooooo

  7. Concerned says:

    He needs to clean house at the top . The tribe is doing great? Non executive and management jobs have been doing welll. The salaries of Tribal Employees have been frozen for 2 years going on 3 years. That includes Police and Fire. Frozen. The tribes dividend has gone up. Once was told the fattest pig is first to slaughter, Lets trim the fat.

  8. Maria says:

    Well my opinion im glad james billie is back yes yes….u other people should be proud also its really time for a change………………….. BIRD CLAN