Navajo Nation Office of Hearings and Appeals Senior Hearing Officer Richie Nez dismissed an election complaint against presidential candiate Russell Begaye by former presidential candidate Myron McLaughlin late this morning, Nov. 24, 2014.
OHA Senior Hearing Officer Richie Nez stated in his DECISION that McLaughlin’s “only argument…to challenge respondent’s loyalty is a federal court action filed against the five suspended or removed directors. The OHA finds, as a matter of law, that such action is not ‘disloyal’ such that it would disqualify a candidate from running for president. A plausible argument can be made that the corporate governance of NNOGS (Navajo Nation Oil and Gas Company) is a proper matter of federal law. This conclusion is reached because: (a) NNOGC is a federally chartered private corporation. (b) In enacting the charter, the Assistant Secretary of the Interior said, ‘nothing in this approval shall be construed as authorizing any action under this document that would be contrary to federal law. (c) A federal court has concluded that there is federal jurisdiction over the corporate governance of a federally chartered company. (d) Dennis Ickes, a lawyer with decades of experience in helping federally chartered private corporations for Indian tribe, testified that the shareholder representatives had a right to file in federal court. No other attorney or witnesses testified to the contrary. (e) James Fitting, former Assistant Attorney General, opined on behalf of the Navajo Nation Department of Justice, that federal corporations law applied to NNOGC. (f) White the OHA certainly recognizes the important of Navajo sovereignty, the fact remains that such sovereignty comes within a federal environment. (g) For example, the Council itself went to the federal government when it decided to form NNOGC. It availed itself of federal law to obtain benefits for the Navajo people. It is peculiar that, having consciously chose a federal charter for a private corporation, the Navajo Nation would now object to the application of federal law to the federally chartered corporation that it formed.”
McLaughlin accused Begaye of failing to show “unswerving loyalty to the Navajo Nation,” which is a legal requirement to be a qualified presidential candidate.
Nez further stated, “Ultimately, the question of loyalty is not decided by whether one seeks federal assistance. The question of loyalty is decided by examining one’ faithfulness to the persons he or she represents.
“Based on the above findings of fact and conclusion of law, this matter must be and is hereby dismissed,” Nez ruled. “Respondent Russell Begaye will continue to be on the 2014 General Election ballot.”
Presidential candidate Russell Begaye stated in a Nov. 24, 2014, press release, “I am pleased with the decision by the Office of Hearing and Appeals. OHA clearly saw I was not disloyal, but in fact stood to protect the interests of the Navajo Nation and the Navajo people. There was no merit to this challenge and the allegations to disqualify me as a candidate for the Navajo Nation President. It was based on far-stretched hearsay, pursued for the wrong reason and unwarranted.”
Under Navajo law, McLaughlin has ten days to appeal the OHA decision to the Navajo Nation Supreme Court.
PRESS RELEASE – Russell Begaye’s Statement on OHA Ruling Charges against Begaye are dismissed
WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. (11-24-2014) – Today the Navajo Nation Office of Hearings and Appeals dismissed the complaint filed by Myron McLaughlin to disqualify Russell Begaye as a Navajo Nation Presidential Candidate.
Russell Begaye said, “I am pleased with the decision by the Office of Hearing and Appeals. OHA clearly saw I was not disloyal, but in fact stood to protect the interests of the Navajo Nation and the Navajo people. There was no merit to this challenge and the allegations to disqualify me as a candidate for the Navajo Nation President. It was based on far-stretched hearsay, pursued for the wrong reason and unwarranted.
Hearing Officer Richie Nez’s decision was sensible and rational–It is reassuring that the rights are being safeguarded through a fair and just process.
Over these past few weeks, there have been many different issues that have surfaced regarding our people, language, traditions that we have never fully discussed or worked through that should be brought to light. This is an issue that no one is right and no one is wrong, but we should come together to find a resolution. Anger is not always productive, indeed, it often distracts attention from solving real problems. It is time that we move in a direction of healing and not in a direction would cause anger and hate.
I have always stood up for what I believe is right, just and in the best interests of our Navajo Nation and our People; and I will continue to do so.”
For more information on the campaign, visit www.russellbegaye.com