Osage chief ousted for Open Records, contracting violations

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It's heartening to see these laws taken seriously. Osage Nation Principal Chief John Red Eagle was removed from office by the tribal council and banned from ever holding tribal office again:

The six counts included abuse of power, interfering with an Osage attorney general's investigation, refusing to uphold tribal law, withholding at least one contract properly requested under the Osage Nation's Open Records Act by two newspapers, and breaking federal and tribal law by using tribal funds to pay a contractor more than $70,000 to maintain his personal website....

In 2013, the Osage News, the tribe's newspaper, and the Bigheart Times, an independent weekly newspaper based in Barnsdall, both requested copies of a contract between the tribe and Rod Hartness, a pipeline consultant.

"It breaks the (tribal) Open Records Act," Red Eagle said Thursday of the decision not to release the contract within the law's 10-day response window. "In that instance, I did it. I broke the law.

"We suspected they would write something negative if they (the Osage News and the Bigheart Times) got his contract."

Open records requests and the integrity of the bidding and contracting process are sometimes dismissed as of minimal importance, of interest only to pesky bloggers. But a failure to respond in a timely fashion may be an indication of something to hide. There is no "they would write something negative" exemption to the Open Records Act.

Kudos to the Osage Nation for having a tough law and taking it seriously.

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on January 22, 2014 7:40 PM.

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