Tribal legislature’s investigation of Red Eagle to resume on October 21
A special session of the Osage Nation Congress is scheduled later this month to resume an investigation of Osage Principal Chief John D. Red Eagle.
According to a proclamation posted last week at ON headquarters, the session will begin at 10 a.m. on Monday, Oct. 21. It calls for a meeting of the Select Committee of Inquiry, which began investigating Red Eagle two months ago on 15 counts of alleged wrongdoing.
The proclamation also indicates that the committee will issue a report on the findings of its investigation. Those findings of the committee could lead to an initiation of removal proceedings against Red Eagle, who is in the final year of his first four-year term as principal chief.
Members of the tribal Congress voted in July to investigate the chief on multiple charges, most alleging abuse of power and ethics violations. The probe was launched after the 15 charges were presented to the Congress during a special session in July. The allegations involve incidents that occurred between 2010 and earlier this year.
Red Eagle maintains that the charges are “unfounded” and has vigorously disputed the allegations from the outset.
In accordance with a motion from the Congress, Osage Supreme Court Justice Meredith Trent appointed a five-member committee to conduct the investigation. Comprising the select panel are Alice Buffalohead (who was named as chairwoman), Archie Mason, John Jech, Maria Whitehorn and the Speaker of the ON Congress, Raymond Red Corn.
Investigation committee members began interviewing witnesses and gathering evidence in August. A month ago, Tulsa attorney Mark D. Lyons was hired to assist the committee members in preparing the report that is to be presented to the Congress.
The congressional investigation was continued from the previous special session to the regular Tzi-zho congressional session, which concluded Sept. 30.
Nearly all of the committee’s hearings have been conducted in executive (non-public) sessions, reportedly because several of the allegations involve personnel-related matters.
Following are the charges against Red Eagle that are being investigated by the Osage Congress.
— Interfering with an investigation of the Osage Nation Attorney General’s office on May 31, 2013.
— Attempting to have the investigation by the attorney general’s office “terminated to give preferential treatment to an employee.”
— Abuse of power to improperly influence the administration of the Osage Nation Gaming Enterprise Board by directing the board, or its employee, to pay for unauthorized expenses of a board member.
— Abuse of power in April 2010 by attempting to improperly influence a decision of the Osage LLC Board by proposing the purchase of a local heavy-equipment business and recommending someone as its chief executive officer. The complaint further contends that Red Eagle made this proposal with money appropriated by the Osage Congress while the appropriation law was still awaiting the chief’s signature — implying that his signature on the appropriation law was contingent upon the board’s agreement to comply with his proposal.
— Abuse of power by attempting to improperly influence the Osage Minerals Council in April 2011 to require all oil producers who did not have their own equipment to give a specific operator the first right of refusal to do any site work if he did become the CEO of the Pawhuska Dozer Company.
— Refusing to uphold a tribal law that delegates “full and sole control over all Minerals Estate accounts” to the Osage Minerals Council. The law was enacted in October 2011 with a veto override. In February 2012, Red Eagle wrote to the council that the accounts’ management would remain with the tribe’s treasury instead.
— Abuse of power in June 2011 by attempting to improperly influence the Osage Casinos’ CEO to pay a local steer roper for promoting the tribe’s casinos.
— Abuse of power by interfering in human resources’ personnel policies by prohibiting disciplinary action against one or more employee(s) from January 2012 through February 2013.
— Abuse of power toward the tribe-owned newspaper, the Osage News, by withholding authorization signatures and ordering signatures withheld on travel requests and housing-assistance documents, allegedly in retaliation for articles the newspaper published from early 2011 through mid-2013.
— Abuse of power for refusing (for more than 10 months) to pay the Osage News for advertising costs related to his 2010 election campaign for principal chief — claiming he should not have to pay since he was elected.
— Abuse of power by withholding information about terms of a contract with a pipeline consultant from the Osage News and another newspaper that filed formal requests under the tribe’s Open Records Act. (It also is alleged that his office refused to disclose terms of the same terms at a legislative committee meeting.
— Breaking of tribal and federal law by using tribal funds to pay a consultant for developing and maintaining a personal website for the chief. It also was alleged that the site was used for the Red Eagle campaign in 2010.
— Abuse of power by directly (or indirectly) authorizing a tribal employee to submit and be paid for fraudulent timesheets from January 2012 through July 2013.
— Abuse of power for authorizing a non-qualified person to be placed in a job with a tribal counseling program from January 2012 through January 2013.
— Abuse of power by authorizing a tribal employee to draw an annual salary of $35,000 while in a position with a lower pay scale from June 2012 through July 2013.