Jessica McBride/Managing Editor
Commission has yet to submit budget
OKMULGEE, Okla. — Muscogee (Creek) Nation Principal Chief James Floyd and National Council Speaker Lucian Tiger have made their appointments to the Campaign Finance and Public Officials Ethics Commission.
Floyd said he appointed Darlene Taryole in June and Lucian Tiger said he appointed Shirley Almerigi July 7.
Lucian Tiger declined an interview regarding the law.
The commission is made up of an appointment from the principal chief, Council speaker and a third member chosen by the first two appointments.
As of publication, the third member has not been chosen.
Floyd said he was aware of the law when he took office.
“I think it’s pretty imminent that the commission will be seated and active and operational during the election period, or I would say post filing period,” he said.
Floyd said to his knowledge, the commission was not active during the 2015 MCN election.
Mvskoke Media attended the candidate fair July 12 held by the MCN Election Office, and information was not available regarding the commission or the law.
As of press time, no contact information was available for the commission office.
Floyd said he unaware of any amendments or changes to the law being considered by Council that might take effect prior to the election season.
“I think having a commission in place is a good assurance to our voters that we’re trying to make sure that the election process is conducted in the highest possible ethical manner and this is a further step in giving assurance to our voters,” he said. “And I think that’s positive and a very good thing for our people.”
Attorney General’s Office
Mvskoke Media contacted MCN Public Relations by email on the following dates in order to obtain more information on the law from a representative of the MCN Attorney General’s Office: April 20, April 27, May 1, May 9, May 24 and June 30.
Mvskoke Media was unable to schedule any interviews or obtain any information about the law or the commission through these contacts.
Mvskoke Media contacted MCN Attorney General Kevin Dellinger by email April 20 and April 27 in order to obtain more information on the law, but did not receive a response as of press time.
Finances and budget
Section 9-107 of the law states that the commission shall receive an annual appropriation to perform its duties and shall present its budget to the principal chief and Council.
‘B. Commissioners shall receive compensation in the form of a stipend of Three Hundred and No/100 dollars ($300.00) per meeting. C. The Commission may employ such persons as are necessary to fulfill its duties.’
MCN Controller Linda Roe responded to Mvskoke Media’s request for information by a written statement dated June 29.
‘As of today, we have not received any budgetary information from the Commission. Once we do receive the Commission’s budget, depending on the timing, we will either include it in the CAB (Comprehensive Annual Budget) or ask for a special appropriation.’
The statement also said her office planned to submit the fiscal year 2018 CAB to the Council for approval by the end of July.
Background of the law
NCA 15-081 was sponsored by Reps. David Nichols, Frank Coachman, David Hill and Lucian Tiger, and set out to create a commission under MCN Code Annotated Title 37, in order to prevent conflict of interest and establish standards of conduct for elected officials.
The measure passed 14-0 by the Council during a May 19, 2015 emergency session. Audio of the session is not available on the Council’s website.
NCA 15-081 was vetoed by former MCN Principal Chief George Tiger and considered for override by Council during the June 20, 2015 session.
According to coverage of the session in the July 1, 2015 edition of the ‘Muscogee Nation News,’ George Tiger’s veto message included concerns regarding potential conflicts between the new commission and the MCN Election Board.
The veto message indicated that the Election Board had not been consulted on the legislation and wanted to be included in the discussion.
It stated that creating a timetable for a commission appointment was a violation of the separation of powers for the executive branch and legislative branch, and that at the time, the legislation conflicted with the timing of the 2015 election season.
The veto message continued by stating terms described in the law were not clearly defined, which could lead to potential legal challenges.
It also stated that the legislation violated federal law regarding ex post facto (after the fact) legislation by outlining rules regarding the submission of grand totals for contributions and expenditures from the last campaign.
George Tiger stated in the veto message that he was a strong supporter of a campaign finance law and public officials ethics commission, but felt the law needed more work from elected officials and the Election Board.
No further discussion was held during the Council session.
Council passed the veto override, which required two-thirds majority, June 20, 2015 with a vote of 11-4, with Reps. Shirlene Ade, Pete Beaver, Joyce Deere and Johnnie Greene voting against it.
The commission is responsible for the production, distribution, collection and preservation of the campaign contributions and expenditure reports required by Code to be filed by candidates.
Read previous Mvskoke Media coverage of the law at: #CreekVote17 update, Principal chief discusses campaign finance ethics commission.
The reports are required to be made available for public review, with copies of the reports available for a fee. Delinquent filings are required to be posted for public viewing at the Office of the Secretary of the Nation and Commerce.
MCN Secretary of the Nation and Commerce Eli McIntosh said in a written statement that according to the law, the reporting would begin the 10th day preceding the primary election, which would be Sept. 16.
Section 9-109 of the law states, ‘The Public Officials Ethics Commission shall promulgate rules governing ethical conduct to be followed in all campaigns for elective office, initiatives and referenda, including civil penalties for violations of the rules.’
The law states that these rules must be presented to the Council within 60 days and approved through tribal resolution passed by Council.
The laws also defines procedures for filing, complaints, sanctions and provides a form for candidates to complete with campaign contribution information.
Mvskoke Media will provide additional information regarding the commission as it develops.