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Osage Nation Congress confirms Clark Batson as new Treasurer

Congress strikes funding for former acting Treasurer McIntosh, prompting Chief Standing Bear to consult the ON Attorney General

The 8th Osage Nation Congress unanimously confirmed Clark Batson as the next Osage Nation Treasurer on April 17.

Batson, a Certified Public Accountant with many years of experience working with tribal nations, fills the role of Treasurer after a nearly three-year search by the Executive Branch. On the day of his confirmation interview, Congress expressed concerns about the challenges he will face in revamping the Treasury Department.

Their concerns are based partly on the past performance of Tyler McIntosh, the former acting Treasurer who was often at odds with Congress. He acknowledges this strained relationship in his April 3 resignation letter.

The Nation’s executive and legislative branches have been at odds over the Treasurer’s performance, oversight and reporting responsibilities since the government was reformed in 2006. However, it was McIntosh’s performance over the past two years that shaped many of the questions Congress members had for Batson at his confirmation.

He was questioned about means and methods he would use to make sure vendors are paid on time; whether he thought Principal Chief Geoffrey Standing Bear waited too long to appoint a Treasurer; whether he was aware of the Office of Fiscal Performance Review; whether he would publish quarterly reports in the Osage News as is required by law; how he would handle the transition with the staff, and many more.

Batson was not deterred by their questions. Unlike McIntosh, Batson has a CPA license which qualifies him for the post in Osage law. When asked whether he thought a CPA license was needed for the Treasurer position, he said yes.

“I understand that narrows the pool. But I do believe that the CPA certification still means something in today’s world,” he said. “I do think the qualification counts for something and that it is desirable. One of the biggest things, and I kind of looked at it as slightly annoying, but when I first became a CPA, it’s like lawyers and doctors, we have to do 40 hours of continuing professional education through the years.

“And, yeah, I’ve gotten better at finding good conferences and good trainings to go to that aren’t extremely boring (laughs). They can be but it does keep you current on current developments in the accounting industry and the regulatory environment. And what’s going on … with audit rules and proposed accounting standards, and it’s helped me stay current and I still think it’s good. I think the certification means something.”

Congressman Eli Potts referred to a timeline he had made of how many days each Treasurer was late in submitting the annual audit to Congress, some were over 300 days late. The Treasurer is expected to submit the annual audit between the period of Oct. 1 to March 1 every year. This helps Congress in their oversight responsibilities as they determine how to spend the Nation’s money during the Hun-Kah Session, which always starts the last Monday in March and ends in April.

Potts: “So my question … because you’ve got from Oct. 1, which is the start of the next fiscal year to that March 1 deadline, there’s about 150 days built in there … that are over and above how many days we missed that March 1 deadline by. What is your desired timeline for completing the audit?”

Batson: “… our time would definitely be March 1. And it is doable. I’ve worked for the Osage Tribe, Pawnee Nation, Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes, Osage Nation, unfortunately, missing our deadlines is not something that is completely unheard of in Indian Country, but we can and should do better and we should reach the March 1 deadline.”

Potts: “What would your expectation be of this body if we continue to miss that deadline moving forward under your leadership?”

Batson: “Honestly, hold us to the coals.”  

Contract

One question heavily discussed by Congress during the Hun-Kah Session was whether the Executive Branch can execute a contract without an appropriation from Congress. When McIntosh resigned, Standing Bear issued a statement that included the Executive Branch would continue working with McIntosh “on a contract basis.”

The Osage News obtained a copy of McIntosh’s contract, signed April 3 by Standing Bear, that set his pay rate at $165 an hour, not to exceed $120,000 for fiscal year 2024, which ends Sept. 30. The contract also states that for fiscal year 2025 and thereafter, McIntosh will receive $165 an hour, not to exceed $240,000 per fiscal year.

Some members of Congress took umbrage with this since the contract had been executed without an appropriation. They also decried the amount. “That’s more than we pay our principal chief,” Potts said during debate.

When Batson was asked about the contract and whether he knew about it, he deferred to the Office of the Chiefs.

“I will defer to the Office of Chiefs on that. I can tell you from my first interview, it was my understanding that he [McIntosh] would continue on in the contractor capacity. And that is way better than a circumstance where he would just be gone instantly,” he said. “And that was something that I considered in making my decision to accept the appointment … But I hope that that gets worked out between the legislative [branch] and office and the chiefs.”

During the April 17 Congressional Session, Potts motioned to strike the $120,000 earmarked to pay McIntosh for the remainder of the 2024 fiscal year and the motion passed 9-2, with Congresswomen Revard and Shaw voting no. Congresswoman Brandy Lemon was absent.

In response to the Congress’s actions, Standing Bear said this:

“New Treasurer Batson will need assistance from former Acting Treasurer McIntosh. The Osage Nation must continue with the existing high-level of transparency and accountability. I will consult with the Attorney General of the Osage Nation on the actions of the Osage Congress. Our Supreme Court has already given us guidance in the Whitehorn and Pratt cases on how to fund the operations of Osage Nation.”

Author

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Shannon Shaw Duty
Shannon Shaw Dutyhttps://osagenews.org

Title: Editor

Email: sshaw@osagenation-nsn.gov

Twitter: @dutyshaw

Topic Expertise: Columnist, Culture, Community

Languages spoken: English, Osage (intermediate), Spanish (beginner)

Shannon Shaw Duty, Osage from the Grayhorse District, is the editor of the award-winning Osage News, the official independent media of the Osage Nation. She is a graduate of the University of Oklahoma with a bachelor’s degree in Journalism and a master’s degree in Legal Studies with an emphasis in Indigenous Peoples Law. She currently sits on the Freedom of Information Committee for the Society of Professional Journalists. She has served as a board member for LION Publishers, as Vice President for the Pawhuska Public Schools Board of Education, on the Board of Directors for the Native American Journalists Association (now Indigenous Journalists Association) and served as a board member and Chairwoman for the Pawhuska Johnson O’Malley Parent Committee. She is a Chips Quinn Scholar, a former instructor for the Freedom Forum’s Native American Journalism Career Conference and the Freedom Forum’s American Indian Journalism Institute. She is a former reporter for The Santa Fe New Mexican. She is a 2012 recipient of the Native American 40 Under 40 from the National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development. In 2014 she helped lead the Osage News to receive NAJA's Elias Boudinot Free Press Award. The Osage News won Best Newspaper from the SPJ-Oklahoma Chapter in their division 2018-2022. Her award-winning work has been published in Indian Country Today, The Washington Post, the Center for Public Integrity, NPR, the Associated Press, Tulsa World and others. She currently resides in Pawhuska, Okla., with her husband and together they share six children, two dogs and two cats.
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