Statement from Chief Sisk on charges


Timing, basis of charges questioned

Redding, CA— Caleen Sisk, Chief of the Winnemem Wintu Tribe and a Democratic candidate for California Assembly District 1, has released the following statement concerning allegations of fraud made by the Shasta County District Attorney’s office:

“For many years I’ve been caring for a relative who lives with us in our tribal village. She has lived with Down syndrome into her 60s. She was previously cared for by someone who abandoned her. When he left, I promised her that I would continue caring for her at home, where she thrives and is happy. She is a beloved member of our tribe.

She requires care 24/7. Some of that care is covered. In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS), a department of the State of California, has consistently visited us, accepted my paperwork, and approved of the care I’ve provided since I took over seven years ago.

I have always cooperated with IHSS. I will continue to cooperate with any government agency when asked how I manage my work as a tribal and spiritual leader and provide care for the members of my tribe. I have always conformed to the administrative rules and procedures as they were explained to me. For instance, I was told that having others help me in providing care was permissible. As IHSS will confirm, I made whatever adjustments to the way paperwork is done according to their instructions. I will continue to cooperate with all the agencies involved in this investigation.

When given an opportunity to present the facts, I expect the charges to be dropped. I’m confident that this matter will be resolved quickly. However, the timing of this concerns me.

I decided to run for the Assembly in March. Two days after I filed, Shasta County District Attorney Stephanie Bridgett brought a complaint against me alleging welfare fraud. Apparently government agencies have been conducting surveillance on me, tracking me through social media, my employment records, my health records, and the care I give to my relative, and found inconsistencies that they have turned into a criminal prosecution. The timing of these charges, and the way that the facts do not fit the allegations, suggests to me that this is persecution, not prosecution.

Tribal people who live traditionally do not fit neatly into a system that prioritizes institutionalization. We care for those who can’t care for themselves, and we do it collectively. This is not a crime.

As the leader of a small group of traditional native people, and a direct descendant of those who were here before Shasta County existed, I will always represent those who want to live in a safe and healthy community. I oppose projects by outside interests that lead to the destruction of our local economy and the natural world. I stand with regular people who deserve good jobs and a healthy environment. I will continue to run for the Assembly, District 1. And I ask all those who believe in a better life for regular hard-working people in our area to support me.

Further questions about the legal case should be directed to my attorney, Joe Gazzigli of Redding.”

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Friends of Caleen Sisk-AD1, PO Box 493635, Redding, CA 96049-3635 • FPPC #: 1404493

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