(AP) A newspaper publisher here filed a criminal complaint over a bogus insert placed in newspapers on the Paiute-Shoshone reservation east of town.
The “tribal editorial” insert falsely uses the name of Lahontan Valley News & Fallon Eagle Standard newspaper reporter Josh Johnson, and it charges four tribal council candidates with impropriety and immorality.
Publisher Rick Swart filed the complaint Friday with tribal police after someone reported finding the insert inside a newspaper purchased from a rack at the tribe’s senior center. Fallon is 60 miles east of Reno.
Tribal police confiscated an undetermined number of newspapers from racks on the reservation, but would not comment on how many inserts were involved.
Acting Tribal Police Chief Karl Fredericks said an investigation was ongoing, and it’s too early to say whether state or federal authorities might become involved.
The insert criticizes Jack Allen, Catherine Williams-Tuni, Laura Nihoa, and Rulan Stands, all challengers in Saturday’s election. Results were not immediately available.
The four expressed more sadness than anger, and said it’s only the latest example of what tribal members call “smut letters” because they center on personal issues such as a tribal member’s sex life.
“I’m not taking it personally, even though it is personal,” Nihoa said. “This affects how the county community views the Indian community. This is what we’re trying to repair.”
The person she’s trying to unseat, Susan Willie, also criticized the insert.
“I hate to see those kinds of things happen, but unfortunately they often do around election time,” Willie said. “We don’t condone these things, and I’m sure [other council members] feel the same way.”
Some tribal members said they didn’t expect the insert to affect the election results. They called for an end to smut letters.
“Normally people mail them but they don’t sign them and that bothers me,” said tribal administrator Rochanne Downs. “We value opinions but at least have the courage to put your own name on them.”
County prosecutors said the offender could face charges for theft of service because the newspaper charges for inserting publications.
“You have to have thick skin to be a reporter,” Johnson said. “The real victim is the tribe’s reputation.”