I have received numerous and I do mean numerous requests for copies of the 11 criminal charges against Speaker Naize. The latest request was yesterday, Tuesday, after Oak Springs, Ariz., Chapter members believed that one of Speaker Naize’s political appointees would be presenting a resolution to support Speaker Naize and oppose the Council’s removal of Naize as speaker and name a new speaker.
By the way, the Council’s top standing committee, which is the Naabik’iyati Committee, is meeeting tomorrow, Thursday, Jan. 23, 2014, on the two proposed resolutions regarding Speaker Naize, which are Naize’s removal as speaker by the Council and the selection of a new speaker by the Council. The process for the two pieces of legislation started when a Council Delegate, which in this case was Delegate Alton Shepherd, had legislation drafted and reviewed by the legislative attorneys. After legal review, legislation is assigned a number and it goes to the Speaker, which in this case is Johnny Naize. The speaker, under Navajo law, decides which standing committees of the Council will debate and act on legislation before the legislation reaches the Council for final action. After the Speaker assigns the committees, the legislation is electronically posted on the Council’s website under Legislation, where the five day public comment period begins before the legislation actually goes before a standing committee.
But for some unknown reason, Delegate Alton Shepherd’s legislation for the Council to remove Naize as speaker was not posted on the Council website until after several news reporters, including myself, asked why Shepherd’s legislation regarding Speaker Naize had not been posted on Jan. 6 and then on Jan. 7, 2014. Myself and Farmington Daily Times reporter Noel Smith were at a Shiprock, N.M., Chapter meeting when Council Delegate Russell Begaye encouraged the community to comment on Delegate Shepherd’s legislation regarding Speaker Naize. On Jan. 7, Delegate Shepherd issues a press release that announced his legislation was posted and ready for public comment. But Shepherd’s legislation didn’t appear on the Council’s website until Jan. 8 at 10:45 a.m.
And since Shepherd’s legislation, which is number 0003-14, wasn’t posted until Jan. 8, the Naabik’iyati Committee couldn’t legally act on it when it went before them on Jan. 13 because Legislation 0003-14 had not completed the 5-day public comment period. And what was even interesting was that the Naabik’iyati Committee voted to put 0003014 on its agenda on Jan. 13. I started wondering if some of the committee members thought they could sabotage 0003-14 by taking action on it even though it had not completed the five-day comment period and then when it got to Council, which is next week, someone – probably the Navajo Department of Justice or Navajo Nation Attorney General Harrison Tsosie or Navajo Nation Deputy Attorney General Dana Bobroff – would declare 0003-14 null and void either before or after the Council acted on it.
In any event, the question over the five-day comment period was made by the Naabik’iyati Committee on Jan. 13 when 0003-14 went before them but because the question, the committee refused to properly bring it before them by the making of a motion and second by two committee members. But before the committee could wrangle out of addressing 0003-14, Delegate Dwight Witherspoon asked for an executive session to discuss 0003-14 and under the Council’s floor rules, the committee had to acknowledge Witherspoon’s request by voting on it, which was approved with a vote of 8 in favor, 7 opposed. But before the vote on Witherspoon’s executive session request, Delegates Mel Begay and George Apchito made a motion and second for the committee to adjourn. The committee vote on the Begay-Apachito adjournment motion was 7 in favor, 9 opposed.
I don’t know how long the committee was in executive session but when their closed door meeting ended, the decision was that 0003-14 didn’t go through the five-day comment period and so it needed to properly go before the committee on Jan. 23, which is tomorrow. And on the same day that the Naabik’iyati Committee went behind closed doors over 0003-14, Delegate Shepherd’s Legislation 0014-14 for the Council to appoint a Speaker to finish out Naize’s second two-year term, which began in January 2013, was electronically posted on the Council’s website for the five-day public comment period. Public comments are allowed on legislation up to the time that the Council takes final action.
When LEGISLATION 0003-14 was electronically posted, the exhibits, which were the criminal charges against Naize were not posted. I contacted the Navajo Nation Special Prosecutor’s public relations office for copies of the criminal charges against Naize. The following are the electronic copies of the one criminal charge of conspiracy to commit bribery and ten criminal charges of bribery. I also included the Criminal Summons.