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Chief responds to allegations made by AG and ON Congress

By

Benny Polacca

Osage Nation Principal Chief John Red Eagle says the recent ethics allegations levied against him are “unfounded” and those allegations are “based on nothing more than rumor and gossip.”

Chief Red Eagle is the target of an ethics case in ON Trial Court after Attorney General Jeff Jones filed a three-count ethics complaint on June 12. Now, the complaint count stands at four after Jones filed an amended complaint on July 12 adding an additional count. A scheduling conference for this case was initially held July 11 and will resume on Aug. 8, with presiding Associate Judge Lee Stout.

According to the amended ethics complaint, Jones added the fourth count regarding the contract and payments made to Chief Red Eagle appointee Paul Allen who maintains the chief’swww.johnredeagle.com website. Allen is appointed as a web specialist to “maintain and update the Office of the Principal Chief’s website,” according to his $30,000 contract with the Nation for this fiscal year. Allen has worked under contract since Aug. 4, 2010, the complaint states.

In the complaint, Jones argues those payments made to Allen with tribal money is considered an “unauthorized use of Osage Nation resources in the amount of $71,603.00,” which is the amount paid to Allen through contract up to July.

Also in his complaint, Jones alleges the payments to Allen violate two sections of the Nation’s ethics law regarding unauthorized use of ON resources. Jones filed the amended ethics complaint in wake of an AG investigation targeting the Allen contract.

Jones’s office started investigating the Allen contract after a three-month portion of the ON Executive Branch check registry became public in June following an open records request made byThe Bigheart Times. According to the check registry for the period starting Jan. 1 and ending April 15 of this year, Allen was paid $1,153.85 eight times from the Executive Branch’s budget, funded with tribal money.

Jones said his office also investigated the check registry after he received tips of a tribal government “ghost employee,” meaning someone was hired on the payroll but not showing up in the workplace. It was unclear whether Allen was the employee at issue, but Jones’s investigation focused on Allen’s contract work.

The johnredeagle.com Web site includes a bio page about Red Eagle, a former Assistant Principal Chief, whose Chief term expires next year. He has not publically stated whether he’ll run for re-election in 2014. The website contains various messages written by Chief Red Eagle including legislative actions and the wind farm debate in western Osage County.

Shortly before the August 2013 issue of the Osage News went to print, the website appeared to be amended from early July when an initial online story on the AG investigation of Allen’s contract was posted to www.osagenews.org.

In early July, the website included contact information for governmental offices including Chief’s office, housing, education, CDIB/Membership and Constituent Services with rating polls on those pages asking site visitors to rate those entities with a grade ranging from “excellent” to “horrible.”

On July 31, those polls appeared to be removed from the website and in its place, the website provides a link to the Nation’s www.osagetribe.comwebsite to access all tribal departments and entities, as well as the Indian Health Service website.

Chief Red Eagle is also the target of a Congressional committee investigation, which starts Aug. 19 when the Third ON Congress convenes for its next special session. The Congressional Select Committee of Inquiry will examine 15 allegations made against Chief Red Eagle during its July 8 special session. Congressman William “Kugee” Supernaw read the laundry list of allegations which 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.

Jones and Chief’s attorneys continued to debate the ethics complaint case through court documents as July ended. On July 26, Oklahoma City-based attorney Kirke Kickingbird filed a motion to dismiss the ethics complaint arguing Chief was not properly served with a summons for the amended ethics complain Jones filed on July 12.

According to Kickingbird’s motion to dismiss, A mailed copy of the amended complaint was sent to Kickingbird and fellow attorneys William Norman and James Burson at their firm, Hobbs Strauss, Dean and Walker LLP, but Chief did not receive a summons or a request to waive the summons process, per ON court rules.

Jones responded to Kickingbird on July 30 arguing the time for serving a summons to Chief Red Eagle in this case has not expired, therefore “not ripe for decision by this Court.” Jones argues the dismissal motion is “premature” because he, as the plaintiff, “has 120 days after the First Amended Complaint is filed to serve (the) defendant,” per court rules. Jones then asks that Kickingbird’s dismissal motion be dismissed.  

Chief responds to some of Congressional, AG allegations

In response to the amended ethics complaint filing, Chief Red Eagle issued a July 24 statement through his attorneys calling the ethics complaint “flawed in all respects.” The chief responded to some of the allegations and said he plans to challenge them in court. He also touched on some of the allegations raised in the 15-item list read by Supernaw last month.

“As stated previously, the allegations are unfounded,” Chief Red Eagle said in his statement. “It grieves me that the Attorney General’s office and the Osage Nation Congress have produced such allegations based on nothing more than rumor and gossip. I am confident that Osage Nation constituents will be dumbfounded by the lack of truth and accurate investigation once my attorneys present the case.”

The Congressional committee’s investigative proceedings are separate from the ethics complaint being considered in tribal court even though some of the Congressional allegations are mentioned in Jones’s filed complaint. Once the Congressional investigation is complete, the Select Committee of Inquiry will issue a report to the entire Congress to help the legislative body decide whether a removal trial is warranted.

Regarding the Allen contract and his website, Chief Red Eagle said his attorneys will show “that Candidate John Red Eagle’s campaign website was retired in 2010 and can be found stored atwww.paulallen.biz/johnredeagle.com. The former campaign website is distinct from the link on the official Osage Nation Executive Branch website page to ‘Chief John Red Eagle.’ The current link has never been a campaign website.”

The website address at issue was used for Chief Red Eagle’s campaign page when he ran for office in 2010. The www.johnredeagle.com address is listed on campaign pamphlets distributed by Chief Red Eagle’s campaign team during that election season.

According to a website domain check,www.johnredeagle.com is not registered under the Osage Nation. “John Redeagle” is listed as the administrative contact along with the email address “pa@paulallen.biz” and the physical address listed is 126 E. 6th St. – the former location of the Osage Nation Tax Commission in 2010 in which Chief Red Eagle’s adopted daughter is the ON Tax Commission Administrator, Mary Mashunkashey, who is also the wife of Joe Don Mashunkashey, the former Pawhuska Indian Village Five-Man Board chairman who admitted to having embezzled from the Pawhuska village fund last September when he resigned amid an ON Congressional audit report released that month. The website domain name was created on April 13, 2006 and expires on the same day next year.

Other allegation responses from Chief

Chief Red Eagle responded to other recent allegations including those referring to a May phone conversation the Chief had with AG office investigator Brian Herbert regarding an ongoing AG investigation. Jones argues Chief Red Eagle broke tribal law when he contacted Herbert and demanded that an investigation involving a “certain person” stop immediately. Jones also alleges that Chief Red Eagle contacted the Gaming Enterprise Board and told them “that they will pay” for travel expenses for board member Randy Carnett when the board decided not to pay for the entire travel to reduce costs.

In his statement, Chief Red Eagle said Herbert spoke to him with a “disrespectful” tone and that he threatened to investigate all governmental employee timesheets.

“Chief Red Eagle will make clear he did not threaten to fire Investigator Herbert, despite Herbert’s threat to go after all Osage Nation employees,” the statement reads, “In fact, Chief Red Eagle knows that under Osage law he cannot fire Investigator Herbert, and it is solely the Attorney General who controls or loses control of his Investigator. Only the Attorney General and his staff can start, stop, or suspend an investigation.”

In the 15-item Congressional list of allegations, three of them referred to Macy Mashunkashey Williams, who is the daughter of Mary Mashunkashey, and works for the ON Counseling Center. The allegations state Williams worked as an employee in a position requiring a high school diploma, college degree, behavioral health certification and a minimal age requirement of 21 – and she did not have any of the qualifications. The allegations also state Williams was allegedly “paid for fraudulent time sheets” and continued to receive a $35,000 salary after she was “moved to the position of Monitor, which has a lower pay scale at $20,000.”

Chief Red Eagle did not mention Williams by name, but responded stating: “It will be shown that the personnel records which are the subject of this investigation do not reflect any disciplinary actions or cautions about work or inaccurate timesheets. In addition, records will show the employee was never paid from the Target Capacity Expansion Grant, which ended in 2012, and thus there was never any risk of disallowed costs.”

Regarding the allegation involving Carnett, Chief Red Eagle’s statement reads: “Chief Red Eagle’s attorneys will prove that Gaming Board Chair, Stacy Laskey, explicitly authorized the travel of Gaming Board member, Randy Carnett, the day before Chief Red Eagle expressed his support for the travel via e-mail. Chief Red Eagle supports attendance of Gaming Board members at conferences, which include matters such as Internet Gaming that could affect tribal gaming revenue.”

Chief Red Eagle closed his statement with: “The approach of the Attorney General’s office and the Osage Congress has harmed our reputation in the greater community because when we fail to edify one another, we diminish the Osage Nation in the eyes of the surrounding community and beyond. For all of the good we have done, the Osage Nation was only featured on a national scale due to the infighting between the branches of government. This takes the focus off of the real business of the Osage Nation.”

A PDF copy of Congressman Supernaw’s motion to form a Select Committee of Inquiry listing the 15 allegations is available online. To see the full list of 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

Location

Osage Nation Executive Branch

627 Grandview

PawhuskaOK

United States


Original Publish Date: 2013-08-06 00:00:00

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Benny Polaccahttps://osagenews.org
Benny Polacca started at the Osage News in 2009 as a reporter and has covered various stories and events impacting the Osage Nation and Osage people. Polacca is part of the News team awarded the Native American Journalist Association’s Elias Boudinot Free Press Award in 2014 and other NAJA Media Awards and SPJ Oklahoma Pro Chapter awards for news coverage and photography. Polacca is an Arizona State University graduate and participated in the former American Indian Journalism Institute at the University of South Dakota. He previously worked at The Forum newspaper covering the Fargo, N.D. region as the weeknight reporter.
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