Osage Nation Supreme Court Chief Justice Charles Lohah has selected five ON Congress members to serve on a Select Committee of Inquiry to investigate allegations of whether Treasurer William Kemble should be removed from his post.
In a letter received by the Congressional office Jan. 13, Lohah announces his appointments but stated he had reservations in doing so due to the separation of powers provisions in the Osage Constitution.
“I received your letter and attachments on 6th day of January, 2012, and while I have certain reservations about making these appointments based upon the separation of powers provisions, I have done so as a matter of comity and cooperation,” Chief Justice Lohah wrote. “If litigation ensues, that will be the place to officially raise that issue.”
Members of Congress selected to serve on the committee are: Daniel Boone, John Free, Raymond Red Corn, Geoffrey Standing Bear and Alice Goodfox.
The Congress voted 10-2 to form the Select Committee of Inquiry Jan. 4 during its 13th Special Session after Congresswoman Shannon Edwards made the motion.
In following Congressional rules on removal of appointed and elected tribal officials, Edwards called for the select committee motion and cited 11 allegations against Kemble.
Those allegations point to accounting issues the Congress investigated last year, which include: that he implemented new accounting policies and procedures without Congressional approval; allowed tribal funds to remain undercollateralized in the bank; failed to close the accounting books for the 2009 and 2010 fiscal years; and distributed employee loans without an approved appropriation bill for the loan program.
The Congressional rules call for the ON Supreme Court to select five members of Congress to serve on a Select Committee of Inquiry, but the person making the select committee motion (Edwards) is not eligible to serve.
All proceedings of the committee shall be held in executive session with the exemption of votes regarding a recommendation to the Congress or approval of a committee report and any vote regarding the adoption of additional rules for procedure, the rules state.
The Select Committee of Inquiry will elect a chairperson and the committee is authorized to conduct a comprehensive investigation limited to the allegations listed in the select committee motion. The committee is also authorized to gather evidence, interview witnesses, take testimony under oath and subpoena documents as prescribed by tribal law and Congressional rules.
The select committee shall only meet when Congress is in session and will disband after submitting its findings and recommendations to the full Congress.
The select committee must submit a written report of its findings and conclusions if it finds sufficient grounds exist for the Congress to consider a trial for removal. At least one legislative day after the committee report is submitted, a written motion to conduct a removal trial shall be in order, the Congressional rules state. Any elected or appointed official who is the subject of the select committee has the right to appear by or with legal counsel.
This is the first time Congress has used the removal process to consider removal of an ON government official.