On April 4, 2014, the Navajo Nation Council VOTED 12 in favor, 0 opposed to place Speaker Johnny Naize on paid administrative leave because as a member of the Council, he no held a requirement to be speaker. That legal requirement was “good standing.” And there were 12 reasons why Naize no longer was in good standing. In March 2014, the Navajo Nation Special Prosecutors amended 11 criminal charges of conspiracy to commit bribery and bribery against Naize by adding another bribery charge, which brought the criminal charges against Naize to an even dozen.
Also in March 2014, Naize told the Navajo Nation Window Rock District Court that he was innocent of the 12 charges. And when he was initially charged with the 11 conspiracy and bribery complaints, he issued a PRESS RELEASE in which he promised to be “exonerated” of his criminal charges.
And after the Council voted 12 in favor, 11 opposed on Legislation 0003-14, Naize issued a PRESS RELEASE announcing that all efforts to remove him were over.
But Delegate Alton Shepherd, the one Navajo Council delegate that sponsored 0003-14, didn’t believe that it was over. And when several delegates came to him and asked him to sponsor another legislation for the removal of Naize, he accepted and sponsored 0069-14.
After the Council vote on 0069-14, Shepherd TALKED about the Council’s decision to put Naize on paid leave.
Shepherd said he and his family have “taken a lot” for his sponsorship of legislation to remove Naize. On Jan. 7, Shepherd stated in a PRESS RELEASE that he decided to sponsor 0003-14 because Naize refused to step down after several delegates asked him to after the special prosecutors filed 11 criminal charges against him in December 2013.
“The right thing to do is to step down and take care of those charges,” Shepherd stated. “A leader will choose what is best for the nation, in this case, the Navajo Nation Council, and with his actions to remain as speaker, he is only dividing the Council.”
And Naize has divided the Council.
During the Council debate over 0003-14, several delegates lashed out at Shepherd and Delegate Katherine Benally threatened the delegates that would vote in favor of 0003-14.
Benally also cautioned Shepherd to be careful during the debate over 0069-13. And minutes before the Council voted on 0069-14, several of the delegates, including Benally, walked out of the council meeting.
After the Council voted to put Naize on paid leave, Benally said she walked out of the council meeting because she didn’t want to be part of a “coup.” She also called the Council’s decision to put Naize on paid leave “illegal.”
But Shepherd said on March 3, 2014, PRESS RELEASE that the Council’s support of 0069-14 would “show to our people that the Council can move forward in a positive direction during challenging times, thus eliminating the division of the Council.”
He added that the recent guilty plea by former Delegate Raymond Joe, in which Joe named Naize as one of the individuals that conspired with him to commit bribery, raised “serious questions regarding (Nazie’s) accountability and the credibility (of Naize) as a branch chief.”
Naize responded to the Council’s decision to put on paid leave by accusing the 12 delegates of “attempting a physical takeover of the Speaker office for themselves.” He also stated in his April 4, 2014, PRESS RELEASEPRESS RELEASE that he had “no choice” but to go to the Navajo Nation court to stop the “illegal overthrow of our government.”
On April 7, 2014, Naize filed a temporary restraining order against the 12 delegates and one tribal employee in the Window Rock District Court. Judge Carol Perry denied Naize’s TRO and she ordered Naize to bring evidence to the court on April 8, 2014, at 10 a.m. to show why he needed a restraining order.