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FIGHT OVER SSA WINDFALL REVEALS HOW DEEP CORRUPTION RUNS IN RST GOVERNMENT

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POLITICS

By Gregg Bear

ROSEBUD — Although frivolous resolutions asking for a million-dollar line of credit at Wells Fargo Bank in Mission keep getting shot down, one-half of the 20-member council seems bent on getting their fair share of an apparent SSA windfall no matter the opposition.

So far, opposing members of the Rosebud Sioux Tribal Council have been screamed at, threatened with lawsuits, and insulted in various ways by their fellow colleagues and former elected officials, who are determined get in on the windfall, taking home some $40,000 in cash each.

If proponents can just obtain an approved credit line of $1 million at the bank, these elected (and former) officials apparently hope this year they can get away with a much bigger piece of the proverbial pie; or maybe dip into this glorious pot of gold more than once.

Tribal lawmakers already receive more than $42,000 a year in salaries, plus travel and periodic bonuses, but some apparently have been convinced—or have convinced themselves—that that is not nearly enough and that they deserve much more.

As quickly as one petition resolution bearing signatures of hopeful recipients is voted down by a majority vote, another signature petition begins migrating its way toward the council floor for ratification, asking for essentially the same thing—a whopping $1 million.

Proponents and writers of these resolutions, like Rep. Kathleen High Pipe (Upper Cut Met) and Rep. Robert Shot (Parmelee), have argued that poor Indians or the elderly will be the real beneficiaries if the million dollar resolution is approved.

Obtaining enough gullible council members to sign their latest resolution, the new argument is that a substantial amount will be earmarked for the youth, nearly half-million to the gas-energy program (LIHEAP) for low-income families, and other token programs.

But more of their colleagues are starting to say no way.

The resolution provides no financial structure or payback plan that would pull communities into a workable agreement, nor does it explain how these so-called elders or anyone will benefit. All anyone really knows is that elected and former elected officials will each get a substantial amount of money, if the resolution passes.

These so-called “petition resolutions” have become a clever way of getting a resolution approved. Since not enough council members attend meetings to form a quorum and allow the council to conduct official business as intended by law, some members have taken to adopting signature resolutions. The document is hand-carried to each council member, bypassing regular channels, where the argument and pressure is brought to bear on the individual signer.

Council members up for reelection this year have been told if they do not sign the petition their colleagues and former officials will use their influence to campaign against their reelection. And it’s a hard argument for some council members to ignore.

Secretaries in the RST Secretary’s Office have been scolded and berated by council proponents for releasing information about an earlier petition resolution to the Sicangu Sun Times.

“The secretaries told her (Rep. High Pipe) it was public information and that tribal members had the right to have access and the right to know what was going on in tribal government,” according to a source familiar with the matter.

Council members running for reelection have been accused of not caring for elders because they refused to sign the resolution, which, if passed, puts the Salazar settlement money up as collateral—money that had been promised to the people.

“In reality, it is all about some former council members getting that money, even if the tribe has to go in debt since the tribe already has a cash flow problem,” a source said.

The windfall that present and former council members want to get their hands on stems from the return of Social Security Administration (SSA) money to the tribe, this time totaling around $350,000.

“Earlier, former Rep. Patty Douville told the council that if her name comes up about her wanting SSA money she would sue whoever on the council who brings her name up,” said another source close to the council.

The threat has kept many council members silent. Petitioners have done their best to avoid going before the RST Budget & Finance Committee, where it would likely be tabled and thus killed.

“Rep. Kathleen High Pipe took around the latest petition resolution that is asking the tribe to borrow and create a credit line item with Wells Fargo on the people’s Salazar money for a million dollars. She wants to try to get the rest of that money for former council members, and especially herself, from the tribe’s share of SSA money. She attached a couple of token riders, one for LIHEAP, which is run by Rep. Shot’s wife. Rep. High Pipe asked present council members to sign the petition and if they refused she threatened them, saying that former council members will campaign against those who are running for reelection. She also accused them of not caring about their elders,” a source familiar with the matter said.

It all started back in March when four former representatives approached the RST Council demanding that they be given the SSA windfall. They voted for it before when they were on the council and each received a large payout, enough to buy an expensive new car. They felt they were owed that money again, even though they were no longer on the council and had done nothing for the tribe since getting kicked out of office by voters.

But this year the council balked.

The visit included some yelling, according to another source.

Had the resolution passed, exceptional amounts of money would have been given to certain present and former council members, including Shot, Steve DeNoyer, Shawn Bordeaux, Norbert Running, Mike Boltz, High Pipe, Charlie Spotted Tail, and others, said a source familiar with the scheme.

The greed of a few would have left the people with only a few hundred dollars.

Some council members have alleged that Rep. Shot (Parmelee) has been secretly using LIHEAP funds to pay his campaign for reelection this year. The allegation could not be confirmed at press time and Rep. Shot (With Two Arrows) could not be reached for comment.

Some council members point to these incidents as ample evidence that corruption runs deep in RST politics and government and condoned by an administration reportedly under federal investigation.

Comments

There is corruption everywhere in the Rosebud Sioux Tribe government, and our elected officials won't do anything to stop it. All they want is more money for themselves. It seems every time a new person is elected, he immediately gets corrupted by how easy it is to get travel money and big bonuses. All this money they give to themselves they could be giving to poor people who really need help, especially in this reservation economy. We need to elect leaders who place the people before themselves.

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