Government

ON Congress to meet for eighth special session starting Oct. 21

Osage Nation Congress members will reconvene Monday Oct. 21 for its eighth special session with seven items to consider. No. 1 on the special session proclamation is: “Meeting of the Select Committee of Inquiry and to issue its report.”

The committee has met several times since the August special session to investigate the 15 allegations of wrongdoing against Principal Chief John Red Eagle to determine whether sufficient grounds exist for the Congress to consider a removal trial.

The written report must provide findings, conclusions and documentation to the Congress regarding the 15 allegations raised in a motion to form the committee by Congressman William “Kugee” Supernaw during a July special session. The Congress unanimously passed the motion to form the committee picked by ON Supreme Court Chief Justice Meredith Drent. Its members are Alice Buffalohead (chairwoman), Archie Mason, John Jech, Maria Whitehorn and Congressional Speaker Raymond Red Corn.

The Congressional rules on removal of elected and appointed officials say the report must specify the evidence in support of the original allegations and/or evidence discovered during the inquiry that qualifies as grounds for removal.

The 15 allegations raised in Supernaw’s motion for the committee formation state that Chief Red Eagle allegedly “abused the power of his elected position” several times and allegedly did not uphold Osage and federal law in several separate events starting in 2010, with those alleged events occurring as recent as July.

According to the Congressional rules, a written motion – like Supernaw made to form the Select Committee of Inquiry – is required to conduct a removal trial. The motion for a removal trial may only be issued during a regular or special session of Congress, the rules state.

If a Congress member issues a written motion to conduct a removal trial, the motion shall only specify those allegations found to be supported by evidence as reported by the Select Committee of Inquiry that – if true – would constitute grounds for removal, according to the Congressional rules.

The rules also say no actions or inactions alleged to have occurred more than 36 months prior to the making of the motion shall be considered – with the exception made for a crime of moral turpitude, provided the conviction for the crime occurs in a court of competent jurisdiction and within the 36-month limit.

Chief Red Eagle has denied all of the allegations and attended the investigative meetings with or by legal counsel, as he is allowed per Congressional rules.

After the Select Committee of Inquiry presents its findings and recommendations, it must disband, according to Congressional rules. Per Congressional rules, the motion for removal must be based on cause which include one or more of the following charges: willful neglect of duty, malfeasance in office, habitual abuse of alcohol or drugs, inability to meet qualifications to serve, conviction of a felony or a misdemeanor involving moral turpitude while in office, undermining the integrity of the office, disregard of constitutional duties and oath of office, arrogation of power or abuse of the government process.

To see the full list of the 15 allegations against Chief Red Eagle, click on the link: http://app6.websitetonight.com/projects/1/2/1/5/1215402/uploads/Motion_for_Select_Committee_of_Inquiry.pdf

Also up for consideration during the special session are:

- Consideration of bill No. ONCA 13-102 (sponsored by Congresswoman Maria Whitehorn) to provide a revolving tax relief fund applicable to certain taxes on cigarettes and other tobacco products.

- Consideration of ONCR 13-27 (Whitehorn) which is a Congressional resolution to approve and consent to the ON Gaming Enterprise Board’s annual plan of operation for the 2014 fiscal year.

- Consideration of the FY 2014 budgets for the Legislative Branch and Principal Chief’s offices.

- An amendment to the Nation’s open records act.

Congressional special sessions may last up to 10 days and could extend up to three additional days with two-thirds approval by Congressional members.