Ethics complaints against Speaker Naize STILL under investigation

Navajo Nation Controller Mark Grant laughs it up with Delegates Lorenzo Curley and Mel Begay at the Council chamber in Window Rock, Ariz., on Jan. 28, 2014. Legislative attorney Marian Kahn is in the background. Photo by Marley Shebala

Navajo Nation Controller Mark Grant laughs it up with Delegates Lorenzo Curley and Mel Begay at the Council chamber in Window Rock, Ariz., on Jan. 28, 2014. Legislative attorney Marian Kahn is in the background. Photo by Marley Shebala

Here at Navajo Council Law and Order Committee meeting where Navajo Nation Ethics and Rules Office Director Vernon Roanhorse is being questioned by Law and Order Committee Vice Chairperson Alton Shepherd. Last sixteen months E&R Office transferring written documents into electronic files.

$700,000 still owed as restitution by elected offficials found guilty of violating Ethics in Government Law.

Purchase-Card policy has no penalities for Reconciler and Approver. They also need to be held accountable and they need to know the policies. Law & Order Committee also needs to provide recommendations to proposed P-Card policy.

COMMITTTEE MEMBER RUSSELL BEGAYE: I appreciate the discussion regarding Reconcilers for P-Card purchaes because there are instances where Reconcilers are being pressured to approve P-Card purchases that the Reconciler feels do not meet P-Card purcase guidelines. 

LAO COMITTEE ACCEPTS REPORT FROM DIRECTOR ROANHORSE. In a separate interview with Director Roanhorse, Roanhorse said that the Ethics Complaint against Speaker Naize is still under investigation and that the statute of limitations on the ethics complaint against Naize is about 4 years and that even if Naize leaves office that the Ethics & Rules Office still has the power to prosecute him. Roanhorse declined to provide additional information because Naize has due process rights. Roanhorse added that the investigation of the “complaints” against Naize are time consuming because there are several allegations and because Navajo Nation Office of the Controller was not keeping records. Roanhorse noted that many of the Navajo Nation government offices do not maintain financial records and that the Office of the Controller “shredded” some of the documents that the Ethics Office needed, which forced the Ethics Office to issue individual subpoenas to individual tribal offices that originated the financial documents that received their Final Approval stamp at the Office of the Controller.

And if you’re wondering who heads the Office of the Controller, it’s Mark Grant. And how did Mark Grant become Controller, which is also Director of the Navajo Nation financial offices. Grant was politically appointed by President Shelly and the Council.

Roanhorse also said that he only has TWO investigators to investigate the hundreds of ethics complaints that have filed at the Ethics and Rules Office. And where does the Ethics and Rules Office receive it’s funding? Speaker Naize, as Legislative Branch Chief, creates and recommends the annual budget of the branch to the Council, which has final approval. And yes, the Ethics and Rules Office is under the Legislative Branch, which is headed by Speaker Naize.

I would say that the Purchase Card, which is basically the tribal government credit card, has replaced the Council’s Discretionary Fund or Slush Fund. But don’t get me wrong, the P-Card is not limited to the Council. P-cards are issued by the OFFICE OF THE CONTROLLER to political appointees, which means all of Shelly’s division directors, including Grant, Shelly’s deputy directors; Shelly’s and Naize’s political appointees, who are their chief of staffs, staff assistants, and public relations people; and the Council’s assistants. And according to the policy for these tribal credit cards, each credit holder must file a monthly financial report with the OFFICE OF THE CONTROLLER. But before the monthly financial report goes to the OFFICE OF THE CONTROLLER, it goes to the Reconciler, who is the individual assigned to review the monthly financial report to make sure that all the expenditures were legal, which is outlined in the credit card policy. The Reconciler then sends the Monthly Financial Report to the Approver, who submits it to the OFFICE OF THE CONTROLLER, which pays off the credit card with the People’s money from each of the branches’ budget. There are three branches: Executive Branch, Legislative Branch, and Judicial Branch.

Click on LEGISLATION 0028-14 which is titled “PROPOSED STANDING COMMITTEE RESOLUTION, AN ACTION RELATING TO BUDGET AND FINANCE, APPROVING THE NAVAJO NATION PURCHASE CARD POLICIES AND PROCEDURES SUBMITTED BY THE OFFICE OF THE CONTROLLER”  Legislation 0028-14 began the electronic public comment period on Jan. 31, 2014, and it becomes ready for committee action on Feb. 6, 2014. The committees that Speaker Naize choose to review Legislation 0028-14 are Law & Order, Resources & Development, Health-Education-Human Services and Budget & Finance Committee, which has final approval over Legislation 0028-14. I’d like to recommend that ALL tribal credit card purchases be available electronically and upon request, in written form, for READ ONLY by us, the People, so we may see what we are buying and spending! This kind of electronic READ ONLY system for tribal budgets is already being done for all of the 110 chapters.

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