Legal

ON Congress announces special session for Chief’s removal trial

The removal trial of Osage Nation Principal Chief John Red Eagle is scheduled to commence on Jan. 13 with the 11th special Congressional session.

According to a written legislative proclamation issued Nov. 21, the Third Osage Nation Congress announced the special session with one single item of business listed: Removal Trial of John D. Red Eagle.  

It’s another first in the history of the Nation’s reformed government with the legislative branch considering the removal of an Osage Principal Chief from office. The Congress voted 12-0 to hold the removal trial on Nov. 15 following a Congressional committee investigation that recommended 6 of 15 allegations of wrongdoing against Chief Red Eagle be placed on the removal trial motion. Congressman Archie Mason, who sat on the five-person Select Committee of Inquiry to investigate the allegations, raised the motion as required by Congressional rules.

According to the Congressional rules, after a successful motion to hold a removal trial, the Speaker shall solicit the necessary signatures to hold a special session solely for that purpose. The removal trial shall not be held less than 20 calendar days after the successful vote to hold the trial.

With the Congressional rules on removal currently in place, the Supreme Court Justice who picked the five-person Select Committee of Inquiry is ineligible to preside at a removal trial. That means Supreme Court Chief Justice Meredith Drent, who selected the Congress members to serve on the SCOI, will not preside. Supreme Court Justice Jeanine Logan will likely preside over the trial since the third seat on the High Court is currently vacant.

During trial, which will be public, all 12 Congressmen and Congresswomen will sit as jury members.

Mason’s six-allegation motion for the removal trial states the following allegations will be considered:

1.     Chief Red Eagle “interfered with an investigation of the Office of Attorney General of the Osage Nation, which constitutes malfeasance in office, disregard of constitutional duties and oath of office and arrogation of powers.”

2.     Chief Red Eagle “attempted to have the investigation being conducted by the Office of Attorney General of the Osage Nation terminated to give preferential treatment to an employee, which constitutes malfeasance in office, disregard of constitutional duties and oath of office and arrogation of power.”

3.     Chief Red Eagle “refused to uphold Osage Nation Law, ONCA 11-78, enacted by the (Congress) with a veto override on October 6, 2011, which delegates, “… 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 (OMC’s) letter requesting the release of accounts, he replied by letter stating, “the management of these accounts shall remain in the Osage Nation Treasury” which constitutes malfeasance in office, disregard of constitutional duties and oath of office, and arrogation of power.”

4.     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, which constitutes malfeasance in office, disregard of constitutional duties and oath of office, and arrogation of power.”

5.     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 (Nation’s Open Records Act) by the Osage News staff and The Bigheart Times staff, which constitutes malfeasance in office, disregard of constitutional duties and oath of office, and arrogation of power.”

6.     Chief Red Eagle “violated Osage and federal laws, misusing public money of the Osage Nation by authorizing Paul Allen to be paid $73,334 in Osage Nation public monies for personal services contracts, for which he admittedly did no work to earn his fees, which constitutes malfeasance in office, abuse of the government process and undermining the integrity of the office.”

In his Nov. 13 Notes to the Nation newsletter, Congressman William “Kugee” Supernaw wrote: "At the conclusion of the trial on one or more of the Articles of Removal, should the Chief be found guilty on any Article, he could be removed from office. Ten affirmative votes are required for any Article of Removal to be sustained; in other words, 10 of the 12 members of Congress must find the accused guilty of at least one Article.”

Both sides have retained outside legal counsel throughout the Select Committee of Inquiry investigation and those attorneys will be representing them during the trial. Tulsa-based attorney Mark Lyons worked with the Congressional committee and Oklahoma City-based attorneys Kirke Kickingbird and James Burson are representing Chief Red Eagle.