Tribal Government & News

Tribal Council withdraws reimbursement of Harvey's attorney fees from agenda

04.18.2018 Dean Rhodes Tribal Council

Tribal Council postponed approval of a reimbursement to Tribal Council member Denise Harvey for attorney’s fees she incurred in defending herself against an ethics complaint during the Wednesday, April 18, meeting.

Tribal member Rebecca Knight, a former Hatfield Fellow, filed an ethics complaint against Harvey regarding her participation in interviews for a new Spirit Mountain Community Fund program coordinator.

A March 26 authorization to proceed approved by seven Tribal Council members authorized transferring $111,011.65 from general contingency to the Tribal Council budget to pay for Harvey’s legal expenses and attorney’s fees.

Tribal Council considered the reimbursement at its Tuesday, April 17, Legislative Action Committee meeting and was set to approve it at the Tribal Council meeting. However, it was pulled from the agenda early on Wednesday.

Tribal Council Vice Chair Chris Mercier said the reimbursement was removed from the agenda because more motions were filed after Tribal Court Chief Judge David Shaw ruled from the bench in Harvey’s favor.

Mercier said Tribal Council will await a final resolution of the case before re-addressing the reimbursement.

“The case is not yet at its final disposition and we are hoping to get a final written opinion on it before we move forward,” Mercier said.

The issue has been winding its way through Tribal administrative and legal processes for more than a year, occasionally rising to the level of Tribal Council discussion.

At the March 22, 2017, Tribal Council meeting, Tribal member Brenda Gray asked Harvey about her observation of the interviews for hiring a new Community Fund program coordinator, but was told that since an inquiry had been initiated that her questions were inappropriate in a public meeting.

During the May 31, 2017, Tribal Council meeting, Knight unsuccessfully requested a copy of the investigative report and a June 13, 2017, authorization to proceed released the investigative report to a mediator, as well as Knight and Harvey, but prohibited the parties from sharing the information outside of the mediation process.

An Executive Summary stated that the Tribal Council Ordinance authorizes the reimbursement and follows past practice and is consistent with how the Tribe has handled previous ethics proceedings involving Tribal Council members that occurred in 1999, 2001, 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2012.

“The Tribal Council Ordinance authorizes indemnification of an individual who is made a party to the proceeding because of conduct by the individual while she is or was a Tribal Council member against liability for reasonable expenses, including defending costs, incurred in the proceeding if council determines that the individual met the standards of conduct set forth in the Tribal Council Ordinance,” the proposed resolution states.

Harvey was appointed to the Community Fund Board of Trustees in September 2016 to fulfill the term of former Tribal Council member Ed Pearsall and was re-appointed to serve a two-year term in October 2017. She was not present at the Tribal Council meeting because she is attending the National Indian Gaming Association tradeshow and convention being held in Las Vegas, Nev.

In other action, Tribal Council approved a supplemental budget for 2018 that will allocate $75,000 to the planning process of the 36-unit Elders Phase III mixed-income housing development project and approved the enrollment of two infants into the Tribe because they meet the requirements outlined in the Tribal Constitution and Enrollment Ordinance.

By consensus, Tribal Council also approved the agenda for the Sunday, May 6, General Council meeting to be held in the Tribal Community Center. Employment Services will make a presentation and the meeting will be followed by a Community Input meeting seeking suggestions for advisory vote topics to be placed on the September Tribal Council election ballot.

Also included in the April 18 Tribal Council packet were approved authorizations to proceed that allow all seven Youth Council members to attend the National UNITY Conference being held in San Diego, Calif., in early July; provides Tribal members with up to 10 free compact discs of Tribal Council work session recordings per year and provides free electronic copies to Tribal members with an officially registered e-mail; approves sending out electronic versions of the Tilixam Wawa to Tribal members who provide an e-mail address to Member Services; and approves adding Chinuk Wawa language immersion to the Tradition and Culture section of the draft 2018 Strategic Plan.

The entire meeting can be viewed by visiting the Tribal website and clicking on the News tab and then Video.