By the Confederated Umatilla Journal
MISSION – The Board of Trustees on Monday accepted the findings of a preliminary investigative report, forwarded those findings to the Election Commission, and then certified an opinion of gross neglect against its secretary, Dave Close, on the eve of his recall election on Tuesday.
The election will take place in polling booths from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Oct. 4 at the Nixyaawii Governance Center on the Umatilla Indian Reservation.
The investigative findings were outlined last Friday in a work session with tribal attorney Naomi Stacey, who read the preliminary findings. This time Close read the findings into the record. He put emphasis on a couple of words in the allegations and read as “perverse” the word “pervasive” in the last part of the document.
General Council Chairman Alan Crawford moved to accept the findings with attachments to be kept confidential. BOT member Aaron Ashley seconded the motion. It passed 6-0-1 with Close abstaining. Along with Crawford and Ashley, BOT Vice Chairman Jeremy Wolf, and BOT members Woodrow Star, Justin Quaempts and Armand Minthorn voted for the motion. Treasurer Rosenda Shippentower is recuperating after a fall and was not able attend the meeting.
Close read his own investigation findings resolution into the record that will be referred to the Election Commission to determine whether or not he violated provisions in the CTUIR Election Code.
Before the BOT voted for a second time, Close said, “I believe this resolution as well as other resolutions directed at me are ex post facto law that are illegal to put into resolution to charge existing legal actions.” (Ex post facto is a law that makes illegal an act that was legal when committed, increases the penalties for an infraction after it has been committed, or changes the rules of evidence to make conviction easier. The Constitution prohibits the making of ex post facto law.- The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy.)
This time the Board voted by the same tally, 6-0-1, to send the approved findings to the Election Commission. Such Election Code violations can carry monetary fines.
As that portion of the meeting came to a close, BOT member Quaempts made a motion to certify the opinion of the Board that Secretary Close was guilty of gross neglect based on the CTUIR Constitution, which includes a provision that allows the Board to remove a member with approval from the General Council.
In this case it would appear that if Close is recalled on Tuesday no BOT action would be necessary. However, if Close is not recalled, the Board’s certification of gross neglect would allow the BOT to remove the Secretary with approval of the General Council – not through a recall election, but through a vote of General Council members at a General Council meeting.
Findings in the preliminary investigation included Word documents created on computers owned by the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation (CTUIR) relating to elections, employment matters and related litigation, defamation lawsuits filed against the CTUIR, and unmet obligations related to the Secretary’s duties.
The findings also showed that Close used a key-card in an attempt to enter the Office of Legal Counsel, the Department of Children and Family Services, and Tribal Court after hours.
In her report to the Board, Stacey said, “… this initial review reflects a pervasive pattern of work on tribal computers, networks, demands of staff assistance and response, litigation costs and significant Board time to address these disputes. Most activities occurred during regular work hours.”