Government

SCOI recommends removal trial for Chief Red Eagle

The Osage Nation Congressional Select Committee of Inquiry issued its long-awaited report on Oct. 28 and recommends six of the 15 allegations of wrongdoing be put in a motion for removal of Principal Chief John Red Eagle.

That evening, the SCOI issued a written statement - in addition to its 58-page report and 236 pages of supporting documents - outlining the process they used for witness testimony and replying to accusations made from members of Chief Red Eagle’s staff.

On Oct. 29, the Congress voted 10-0 to end its special session after the report's release. Shortly afterward, the Congress announced its ninth special session is scheduled for Nov. 14 to consider a motion on whether a removal trial should be held for Chief Red Eagle.

In wake of the SCOI's report's release, the committee voted to disband as required by Congressional rules once a committee report is made public. With a 4-0 unanimous vote the committee approved a motion to adopt the completed report during its final meeting on Oct. 28. Voting “yes” were committee members Alice Buffalohead (chairwoman), John Jech, Congressional Speaker Raymond Red Corn and Maria Whitehorn with one absence from Archie Mason.   

According to the report, the committee is recommending the six allegations be placed "on a motion for removal of Principal Chief John Red Eagle" for causes which include malfeasance in office, disregard of constitutional duties and oath of office, arrogation of power, abuse of the government process and undermining the integrity of the office.

In the committee’s public statement released with the report, it said:

“Contrary to the statements of the Principal Chief and his staff to the public through media outlets, the Principal Chief has been afforded significant due process throughout this investigation. Principal Chief Red Eagle had the opportunity to sit in and listen to each and every witness who gave testimony before this Committee, and he had the right to have his legal counsel with him at all times, which are two rights not afforded before a grand jury,” according to the statement. “The Principal Chief was also invited to testify before the Select Committee of Inquiry, and he did so upon his own free will.”

The SCOI said they conducted the investigation in a fair and deliberate manner, hired outside counsel, and was unanimous in its opinion which allegations had sufficient evidence.

“If the Osage Nation Congress proceeds to a removal trial based on the evidence, the Principal Chief and his legal counsel will have the opportunity to present a legal defense, call witnesses, cross-examine witnesses and submit evidence on his behalf,” said the statement.

The seven allegations the SCOI found sufficient evidence for removal are:

·      Allegation No. 1: Chief Red Eagle interfered with an investigation of the Office of the Attorney General. The SCOI recommends the Osage Nation Congress place this allegation on a motion for removal for malfeasance in office, disregard of constitutional duties and oath of office, and arrogation of power.
·      Allegation No. 2: Chief Red Eagle attempted to have the investigation being conducted by the Office of the Attorney General terminated to give preferential treatment to an employee. The SCOI recommends the Osage Nation Congress place this allegation on a motion for removal for malfeasance in office, disregard of constitutional duties and oath of office, and arrogation of power.
·      Allegation No. 6: Chief Red Eagle refused to uphold Osage Nation Law, ONCA 11-78, enacted by the Osage Nation Congress with a veto override on Oct. 6, 2011, which delegate, “… full and sole control over all Mineral Estate Accounts …” (Section 2A) to the Osage Minerals Council, an independent agency within the Osage Nation. In response to the Minerals Council’s letter requesting the release of accounts, he replied by letter stating, “the management of these accounts shall remain in the Osage Nation Treasury.” The SCOI recommends the Osage Nation Congress place this allegation on a motion for removal for malfeasance in office, disregard of constitutional duties and oath of office, and arrogation of power.
·      Allegation No. 8: Chief Red Eagle abused the power of his elected position to improperly influence the administration of the Osage Nation Election Board by forbidding disciplinary action against an Election Board employee. The SCOI recommends the Osage Nation Congress place this allegation on a motion for removal for malfeasance in office, disregard of constitutional duties and oath of office, and arrogation of power.
·      Allegation No. 11: Chief Red Eagle abused the power of his elected position to improperly withhold one or more contracts between the Osage Nation and Rod Hartness properly requested under the Open Records act, 15 ONC 8-101 et seq., by the Osage News staff and The Bigheart Times staff. The SCOI recommends the Osage Nation Congress place this allegation on a motion for removal for malfeasance in office, disregard of constitutional duties and oath of office and arrogation of power.
·      Allegation No. 12: Chief Red Eagle violated Osage and federal laws by misusing public money of the Osage Nation by authorizing Paul Allen to be paid $73,334.00 in Osage Nation public monies for personal services contracts, for which he admittedly did no work to earn his fees. The SCOI recommends the Osage Nation Congress place this allegation on a motion for removal for malfeasance in office, abuse of the government process and undermining the integrity of the office.

In response to the report’s release, Chief Red Eagle said in a written statement: “This conflict has come about because I am performing my duties as head of the Executive Branch of government to do my best to protect our culture, our language, our traditions, our values, our lands, and most importantly of all, the Osage people. Congress disagrees with my judgment and wants to run the Executive Branch and Congress.”

Chief Red Eagle – who has denied the allegations since they were raised in a July special session motion calling for the committee formation – also said: “They have convened a Committee of Inquiry which has recommended I face an impeachment trial. Such a trial would also make them a court, so they want to be the Legislative branch, the Executive branch and the Judicial branch. Their basic accusation is that I have exceeded and abused my authority.”

The Select Committee of Inquiry interviewed 40 individuals for testimony and evidence gathering during its two-month investigation, which started during an August special session. Current and former ON government employees and board members were among those interviewed.

A written motion to conduct a removal trial must be issued for a vote by the entire Congress. 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.

If the Congress votes to hold a removal trial, an ON Supreme Court Justice will preside over the trial – held in public – with the 12 Congress members serving as the jury.

ON Supreme Court Chief Justice Meredith Drent, who was the Supreme Court Justice that picked the committee of inquiry members, will be ineligible to preside at a removal trial should one be held, according to Congressional rules.

To view the full report, scroll to the bottom of the Committee Reports page following this link: http://osagenation.co/government/congress/

[Editor's Note: This story was modified on Oct. 29 to reflect six allegations and not seven. The Osage News regrets the error.]