Government , Legal

Select Committee of Inquiry named to investigate Edwards

Photo caption: Osage Nation Congresswoman Shannon Edwards (pictured) will be investigated by a Congressional Select Committee of Inquiry for allegations made against her. Courtesy Photo

A Select Committee of Inquiry has been named to investigate allegations made against Congresswoman Shannon Edwards. This begins the formal process of investigating whether a Removal Trial is warranted for the congresswoman.

The five members of Congress named to the committee of inquiry are Speaker Joe Tillman, Congresswoman Alice Goodfox, Congressman Archie Mason, Second Speaker Paula Stabler and Congressman R.J. Walker.

According to Congressional Rule 12.1(1)(e), the Chief Justice of the Osage Nation Supreme Court appoints an Associate Justice to name the committee.

“Please be advised that I have chosen Associate Justice Elizabeth Lohah Homer to appoint the members of the Select Committee,” wrote Chief Justice Meredith Drent in an April 1 correspondence to Speaker Tillman. “Justice Lohah Homer has taken the issue under advisement and will inform you of her appointments to the Select Committee under separate cover. Thank you for your service to the Osage Nation.”

According to an April 3 letter from Associate Justice Lohah Homer to the Sixth Osage Nation Congress, she communicated her selection and said under Congressional Rule 12.1(1)(f) she was prohibited from selecting Congresswoman Angela Pratt because Pratt was the Congress member who made the motion to form the committee against Edwards.

“Please be advised that because I am assigned the duty of selecting the members of the Select Committee of Inquiry, Rule 12.1(4)(c) prohibits me from presiding over a removal trial should one be held,” she wrote.

The Select Committee of Inquiry has scheduled its first meeting for April 9, to be held from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. via electronic means, according to the meeting notice. The committee only has one item listed for business: Executive Session – Confidential Personnel Matters.

The allegations made against Edwards include the following:

-       She accepted the office appointment of appellate judge in the Yavapai-Apache Nation 
-       Took an oath of office violating Article VI, Section 5, of the Osage Nation Constitution for Disqualification
-       The approximate date of the alleged disqualification is Aug. 6, 2019
-       She undermined the integrity of the office
-       She disrespected regards for her constitutional duty and her office

Select Committee of Inquiry

According to the Congressional rules, all proceedings of the Select Committee of Inquiry will be held in executive session and all proceedings considered confidential.

The committee will conduct an investigation limited only to the allegations made against Edwards. The committee can only meet during a Congressional session. The committee can gather evidence, interview witnesses, take testimony under oath and subpoena documents as prescribed by Osage law.

The committee shall elect a chairperson, they may retain independent counsel, they may adopt additional rules for procedure, provided those rules are not in conflict with the rules of Congress or other applicable law.

After the investigation is finished the committee will then submit their findings and recommendations to Congress as a whole. Congress will then determine whether there is sufficient grounds to consider a removal trial for Edwards, which will take eight affirmative votes.

If the Congress votes for a removal trial, the removal trial will be public.