For the first time in the Osage Nation’s young government, the ON Attorney General has filed an ethics violation against a Principal Chief in the Osage Nation Trial Court.
AG Jeff Jones filed two ethics violations against Chief John Red Eagle on June 12, describing incidents involving an AG’s office employee and an Osage Nation Gaming Enterprise Board member.
AG Jeff Jones filed a three-count written complaint describing two incidents that occurred in May, where he believes Chief Red Eagle broke tribal law when he allegedly interfered with an investigation by contacting AG Investigator Brian Herbert and demanded that an investigation involving a “certain person” stop immediately. Jones also alleges that Chief Red Eagle contacted the Gaming Enterprise Board and told them “that they will pay” for travel expenses for board member Randy Carnett when the board decided not to pay for the entire travel to cut costs.
Jones is asking the court to find the Chief guilty of the ethics violations and for the Chief to be sentenced within the range of punishment per tribal ethics law.
Chief Red Eagle denies the allegations raised in the complaint and issued the following statement: “I absolutely deny the allegations that anything unethical has occurred, and look forward to defending this vigorously.”
ON Trial Court Chief Judge, Marvin Stepson, will consider the case.
In Count One of the complaint, Jones cites tribal law giving him the authority to file an ethics complaint in Trial Court. According to tribal code, all ethics complaints against non-Congressional Osage Nation officials shall be filed with the Attorney General who shall investigate and determine whether the complaint is valid and has standing. If the complaint has standing, the Attorney General may file the case in Trial Court.
Count two alleges that on May 31, Chief Red Eagle telephoned the AG's office and spoke with Herbert and demanded, "that a pending investigation stop immediately.”
The complaint states that during the call, Chief Red Eagle told Herbert, “that a certain person employed by the Osage Nation 'shall not be touched' by any investigation." Jones referred to tribal law stating this event interferes with his office, which is, “established as an independent office of the Osage Nation.”
According to tribal law regarding the AG’s office, “no employees, including Executive Branch personnel or members of the (ON) Congress, shall intercede or interfere, or attempt to intercede or interfere in the legal functions of the Office of the Attorney General.”
Jones also refers to and cites the Osage Constitution regarding ethics stating: "All tribal officials and employees of the Osage Nation shall avoid even the appearance of impropriety in the performance of their duties."
In count three the complaint alleges on May 29, Chief Red Eagle emailed the Gaming Enterprise Board, "telling them that they will pay for travel for Gaming Enterprise Board Member (Randy) R. Carnett when the Board had decided not to pay for the entire travel due to budget constraints."
The complaint argues that Chief Red Eagle’s action in sending the email, commanding the board to pay the travel violates tribal law, "using the apparent authority of his office causing the Osage Nation Gaming Enterprise Board to be forced to give preferential treatment to any ... person."
Carnett did not respond to a request for comment on the complaint. Gaming Enterprise Board Chairwoman Stacy Laskey said the board “is not commenting at this time.”
Congressional Speaker Raymond Red Corn issued a joint written statement from the Third ON Congress: “As members of the Osage Nation Congress, we share the concern expressed by many regarding the recent allegations made by the Attorney General against the Principal Chief John D. Red Eagle. We will be watching this case closely, confident that the judicial system adopted by the Osage people will determine the truth, and afford justice to the parties.”
Jones said he could not release more information on the events listed in his complaint to protect the case’s integrity. He also said Chief Red Eagle has 20 days to respond to the complaint once he was served.
On filing the complaint, Jones said: “To me, it was a very serious decision. I never file charges frivolously.” Jones also said he is “not in the political arena” and is not running for office and that he would file charges if the same circumstances happened under a different Chief.