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Back on Top: James Billie Reelected as Seminole Chairman

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After eight years on the outside looking in at a position that he has always felt was his, James Billie was reelected May 9 in a landslide.

Billie, who was impeached as the Seminole Tribe of Florida chairman surrounding financial scandal, ran away from two-term chairman Mitchell Cypress with 58.4 percent of the 1,757 votes cast, according to the Sun Sentinel.

“In my heart, I’m still chief of the tribe. They stole it from me,” Billie said when announcing his candidacy, after being ousted from making a political comeback in 2007.

Billie is credited with opening the door to the multi-billion dollar gaming industry that has generated wealth for the Seminoles through the high-stakes bingo operation he started in 1979 when he was chairman.

The 67-year-old was chairman of the tribe, residing in Hollywood, Florida, for 23 years in his first stint in the seat. His election led a clearing of previously entrenched leaders, who all lost reelection bids.