Delegates seek to remove AG from OK’ing spending

WINDOW ROCK

The Navajo Nation Council is pushing to eliminate Attorney General Ethel Branch’s authorization on fiduciary matters after not seeing eye to eye. 

Branch sent out a memo expressing her concern of a bill (0151-17), which looks to amend the Bond Financing Act to remove her approval of all transactions or loans between the Navajo Nation and Navajo enterprises.

During Monday’s Law and Order Committee meeting, the sponsor of the bill, Seth Damon, chairman of the Budget and Finance Committee, got the bill passed by the committee. 

According to the legislation, it would amend two items of Title 12 of the Navajo Nation Code: the General Obligation Bond and Revenue Bonds. The amendment states that both the controller’s and the attorney general’s approval of issuance of bonds will not be needed.

“Passing this legislation will remove the important legal and political protections that the attorney general and the controller’s approvals provide to our leadership,” stated Branch in her memo. “It’s greatly concerning because the attorney general’s approval of nation-to-nation loans and transactions serves as confirmation that those loans are in compliance with the nation’s laws and policies.”

Law and Order Vice Chairman Raymond Smith said he thought that with the attorney general and controller having a heavy say in both these bonds it keeps a checks and balance system in place.
In response, Damon said in June 2016, with recommendation from the Investment Committee, Budget & Finance approved the Navajo Nation gaming loan to be reduced to 5.93 percent and Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye authorized on the loan documents on Aug.1. 

“That gave the Navajo Nation gaming loan documents between the Navajo Nation and Navajo Gaming Enterprise…to this day that has not been implemented,” explained Damon. “Even though leadership passed it on Council side and president signed it into law, the Department of Justice has held those documents.”

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Categories: Politics

About Author

Arlyssa Becenti

Arlyssa Becenti reports on Navajo Nation Council, Business, Fort Defiance Agency, New Mexico State politics and Art/fashion. Her clans are Nát'oh dine'é Táchii'nii, Bit'ahnii, Kin łichii'nii, Kiyaa'áanii. She’s originally from Fort Defiance and has a degree in English Literature from Arizona State University. Before working for the Navajo Times she was a reporter for the Gallup Independent. She can be reached at abecenti@navajotimes.com.