Bill asks prez to follow law with daughter

WINDOW ROCK

A bill was introduced Thursday urging Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye to address his daughter’s —  legal counsel Karis Begaye — recent run in with the law.

Coconino County Sheriff’s Office booking photo of Karis Begay on April 22, 2018.

On April 22, Karis Begaye was driving while allegedly  under the influence in a tribal vehicle south of Flagstaff when she collided with a semi-trailer.

At first, it was reported that she would be able to keep her job but after a public outcry it was then reported she would be placed on administrative leave and would be going into rehab.

The bill states Karis wrecked while driving a Navajo Nation vehicle and no disciplinary action has been taken place by the president’s office. It also states that there has been no communication from the office to the Navajo people on the matter and they are not acting in the best interest of the people in carrying out their duties and responsibilities in a moral and legal manner.

The sponsor of the legislation, Delegate Otto Tso, said he introduced the bill in hopes his colleagues will vote in favor of it. He said that he wants this matter to be addressed by policy and not give favor to Karis because she is the president’s daughter.

“It needs to be addressed appropriately how tribal policy requires” said Tso. “We know Council doesn’t have the authority over the executive branch’s political appointees, but as the oversight of the office this is a recommendation that the (president’s office) address it according to law.”

Tso said if this were any other tribal employee there would be zero tolerance to this type of behavior. He used the former director of veteran’s affairs, Hubert Smith, who was caught after he was involved in a vehicle collision while he was under the influence.

“If this was a normal tribal employee he or she would’ve been fired already,” said Tso. “Hubert Smith wasn’t given these options of admin leave to get rehabilitated, he was fired, to my understanding, right away. The system is not fair.”

There was talk that an emergency bill would’ve been introduced during Thursday’s special Council session on Karis’ removal, which did not occur. Mihio Manus, communication director for the President’s office, stated in an email to the Times:

” In its official capacity, the Office of the President and Vice President addressed an internal personnel matter involving our legal counsel.  

“It’s important to remember that, thus far, no charges have been filed in this matter. Because no charges have been filed, OPVP has acted based on allegations, and it believes actions so far are sufficient.

“In addressing the matter, OPVP has placed its legal counsel on administrative leave and restricted her access to the office and any tribal vehicles.

“The administration will take further actions based on the outcome of any pending proceedings.

“The administration strongly believes it has dealt with this issue in a professional and equitable manner.

The bill is currently in the five-day comment period and it can not be acted on until May 22.


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Categories: News
Tags: Karis Begaye

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.