Recalled Passamaquoddy Chief Blames Opioid Crackdown for Ouster

Nov 22, 2016

LEWISTON, Maine - The former chief of the Passamaquoddy Tribe at Pleasant Point says he was recalled in a special election earlier this month because he was cracking down on a widespread opioid problem on the reservation. 

Fred Moore says that crackdown included workplace drug testing for operators of mechanical equipment. "That resulted in a few resignations by employees and efforts by program managers and some of their employees to evade drug testing," Moore says. "And they then teamed up with the already adverse factions within the tribal council and attempted to take over the tribal government."

Moore had served a tumultuous term as chief since 2014.  He was recalled  by a vote of 280 to 54.  Vice-chief Vera Francis, with whom Moore has publicly sparred, and who was suspended from her duties last year, has said she will serve out the nearly two years remaining on Moore's term. 

Francis did not return a telephone call from Maine Public Radio seeking comment for this story.  But according to a published report in the Quoddy Tides, the recall petition alleged that Moore had violated the tribe's Constitution and personnel policies by using his authority for personal gain.  It also alleged that he misused tribal funds. 

Moore has denied the allegations.  He says he survived six recall petitions until now. "I think the more I exposed the opioid epidemic in the community than the more likely it is, at least for the time being, that there will be a certain amount of adversity directed toward me."

Moore says he is now directing his focus to creating a culturally-based treatment program for opioid addiction off the reservation.