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Citizen Potawatomi Nation, Oklahoma

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Gov. Frank Keating called for an investigation into the legality of a Pottawatomie County land auction after a bidder complained about the sale procedure. The governor's chief legal counsel said in a letter April 25 that the April 11 auction of 5 1/3 acres of Shawnee Conservation District property in south Shawnee "certainly does not appear to be the best method of disposing of public property." The property was advertised and bidders were solicited; bidders were allowed to raise their bids orally and it was to go to the highest bidder. At auction, the board announced oral bids would be limited to three per person- it was not advertised. There were eight sealed bids. Resident Bob Washburn and Nation Vice Chairwoman Linda Capps (on behalf of the tribe) bid against each other. After three bids, Washburn had the apparent high bid of $18,250. Then, John A. "Rocky" Barrett Jr., Nation chairman, bid $20,000. There were no other bids. But Washburn said he was ready to bid as high as $25,000. Barrett submitted a sealed bid but said he would not have bid orally had the tribe submitted the winning bid initially. He owns land on one side of the auctioned property and said he had no influence in the tribe's bid because of a possible conflict of interest.