Minerals Council , Legal

Lawsuit over 2018 Minerals Council election results stalls

TULSA, Okla. — Citing the tribe’s sovereignty and ability to conduct its own elections, attorneys with the Department of Justice are seeking to have a civil lawsuit over the 2018 Osage Minerals Council election dismissed. 

On June 7, attorneys with the Northern District of Oklahoma filed a response in support of a motion to dismiss a lawsuit from former Osage Minerals Councilor Cynthia Boone and Linda Heskett.

Boone finished ninth in the Osage Minerals Council’s June 2018 election, while Heskett finished 12th among the 14 candidates. The two filed the lawsuit in October against the Department of the Interior, the Bureau of Indian Affairs and Osage Agency Superintendent Robin Phillips, seeking a court order to have the election results thrown out.

Responding for the federal government, Assistant U.S. Attorney Cathryn McClanahan pushed back at the request. Instead, she wrote, the authority to change the election is with the Minerals Council’s election board.

“The actual difficulty is that the election results they seek to overturn had nothing to do with any final agency action of the Superintendent,” McClanahan wrote. “As indicated by the Plaintiffs’ attachment to the complaint … the irreparable harm and the futility complained of relate to a third party who actually conducted the election.”

“Any such order would intrude in the Osage Nation’s election process. Plaintiffs ask the court to violate the nation’s sovereignty and the election board’s specific powers as established by regulation.”

The two women initially filed challenges with the Minerals Council election board in June, asking that the results be thrown out due to Election Day changes to the voter roll, including addresses being updated and shareholders being added to the list. Although a recount was conducted as provided for in the Minerals Council’s election code, the numbers remained unchanged from Election Day and the results were certified.

Judge Gregory Frizzell has not set a hearing date in the matter.