Lambert retired in January 2015 after 22 years as executive director of the Tribal Gaming Commission. As a candidate for chief, Lambert said he would start an office of employee rights, deal with the tribe's drug problem, focus on tourism and its economic benefits, and protect the rights of the people as a sovereign nation. He also said the government-owned local newspaper, the Cherokee One Feather, was not truly independent despite the free press act, and he intended to make changes to ensure its independence. As one of five candidates, he received 59 percent of the vote in the June 2015 primary.
Lambert won the election with 71 percent of the vote.
Lambert suspected previous chief Michell Hicks of misusing tribal funds. In April 2016, Lambert presented results of an audit to the Tribal Council. He asked the FBI to conduct its own investigation.
The Tribal Council ordered an investigation of Lambert in August 2016. After the investigation was completed January 18, 2017, the tribal council voted to impeach Lambert. The FBI was also investigating the Qualla Housing Authority, and Lambert stated that he believed this investigation led to the impeachment action.
On May 25, 2017, the Tribal Council found Lambert guilty on 8 of 12 charges. Being found guilty on even one would have been enough to remove Lambert as chief. 9 of 12 members voted for the resolution removing Lambert. Opponents of this action claimed impeachment was done in retaliation for an FBI investigation that Lambert ordered. Among the offenses: Lambert was accused of signing a contract with Harrah's Cherokee that involved the casino renting rooms in Lambert's hotel, signing other contracts without tribal council approval, and improper hiring practices. Lambert and his attorney said Lambert did nothing that would justify impeachment. Vice Chief Richard Sneed replaced Lambert immediately.
Lambert promised to continue working for better government for the Cherokee, even if he did not hold office.
- Kays, Holly (August 19, 2015). "Chief candidate Lambert lays out platform". Smoky Mountain News. Retrieved July 3, 2017.
- Kays, Holly (October 14, 2015). "Chief Lambert's personnel changes draw debate". Smoky Mountain News. Retrieved July 3, 2017.
- Kays, Holly (April 6, 2016). "Corruption found in preliminary Cherokee audit results". Smoky Mountain News. Retrieved July 3, 2017.
- Kays, Holly (February 8, 2017). "Cherokee council votes to impeach Chief Lambert". Smoky Mountain News. Retrieved June 8, 2017.
- Kays, Holly (February 1, 2017). "Cherokee council considers results of investigation into chief's administration". Smoky Mountain News. Retrieved July 3, 2017.
- Maxwell, Tonya (April 6, 2017). "Impeachment proceedings begin against Cherokee chief". Asheville Citizen-Times. Retrieved July 3, 2017.
- Kays, Holly (May 31, 2017). "Cherokee chief removed from office: Lambert's impeachment causes anger as primary election draws near". Smoky Mountain News. Retrieved June 8, 2017.
- "Tribal Council removes Cherokee chief from office". Seattle Times. Associated Press. May 26, 2017. Retrieved June 8, 2017.