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AMID ONGOING CONTROVERSY, RST PRESIDENT MAY ENCOUNTER STIFF COMPETITION IN RACE FOR REELECTION

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By Gregg Bear

ROSEBUD — RST President Cyril L. Scott has had to put his campaign for reelection later this year on hold while he resumes his battle with RST Council over alleged ethics violations, which resulted on Feb. 13 with his second suspension from office.

The suspension followed testimony before a packed council chamber in which Scott’s attorney, Al Arendt, attempted to discredit his accusers by bringing up alleged behavior that had occurred months earlier.

After daylong testimony, arguments and comment, RST Council found the 52-year-old president guilty of “neglect of duty, gross misconduct, and blatant refusal to obey an order by the Council,” according to RST Secretary Julie M. Peneaux.

An ethics hearing before the full council is slated for April 3 in council chambers at 11 a.m.

This marks the second time the president has had to face suspension from RST Council since getting elected to his first term in 2012.

Controversy has dogged President Scott since taking office, forcing him to delay his inauguration for six months, and coinciding with the first of three recall petitions, all of which failed.

Following that Sept. 12, 2013 suspension, President Scott boldly marched into the tribal building and re-commandeered his office the next day, based on a questionable reversed opinion from tribal attorney Eric Antoine.

“Be advised,” Scott said in a prepared statement broadcast repeatedly over the tribe’s public access channel, “that as president of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe, I am retaining my authority as the elected leader of our nation. The action taken against me yesterday is unconstitutional and illegal. It was a blatant violation of my due process rights and an attempt to usurp my authority. Tribal ordinances were totally disregarded and the code of ethics were violated.”

Though the council’s 90-day suspension of the president at that time was never officially rescinded, officials caved under sharp public criticism and let him resume his duties. He was chastised for leaving meetings when things did not go his way. The three-month suspension without pay would have cost him more than $20,000.

If President Scott fails to beat the latest ethics rap at a hearing slated for April 3, the current 60-day suspension could cost him nearly $15,000 from an annual salary of $86,880.

Since getting elected in August 2012, beating former longtime President Rodney Bordeaux by only 39 votes, President Scott’s administration has been mired in political controversy, including attempts by the president to bully individual council members, tribal employees, trying to hire relatives to key positions, provoking fights in local bars, appearing intoxicated at several national conferences, and ignoring alleged abuse of tribal funds by former political appointees.

The suspension followed a political battle over the controversial firing of the tribe’s new police chief under badgering from local BIA, and a BIA letter imposing sanctions against the tribe for nearly half a million dollars in misappropriated federal overtime by police officers.

Although the sanctions were later withdrawn by BIA headquarters in Aberdeen, the president’s nephew topped the list of officers who used overtime to excess and was in line as the president’s choice for police chief. Under political pressure, President Scott eventually backed away from that selection.

The Feb. 13 Council ruling that declared the president guilty of ethics violations failed to specify in detail precisely what the president did to earn him a guilty verdict. His lone accuser, former RST Transportation employee Tamaleon Wilcox aka Tammy Wilcox, claims that she was laid off or fired by the president in retaliation against her for physically attacking him several months earlier at a bar and at his home, according testimony brought out by his attorney.

Wilcox, when asked at the hearing, said she would stand by her ethics charges.

The president’s attorney appeared intent on showing that Wilcox’s behavior months’ prior to her layoff may have justified the president’s later actions against Wilcox at her place of employment.

But a majority of council members in handing down their guilty ruling apparently were not moved by what allegedly happened outside Wilcox’s place of employment. She maintains she was a valued employee at RST Transportation and that the president’s “layoff” was improper and unconstitutional.

On Feb. 17, a reaffirming motion to suspend the president without pay for 60 days by Rep. Lila Kills In Sight was approved unanimously in a vote of 16-0-0, according to RST Secretary’s Office.

Should President Scott prevail at his April 3 hearing, in an election year, political observers say the president may find stiff competition in his bid for a second term, especially with such luminaries as James Iron Shell already announcing his candidacy for high office and apparently well-versed in current political issues of the day.

Says one tribal elder: “Let the campaigning begin. No matter what they do to him, Cyril will always land on his feet.”

Editor's Note: As the Sun Times was going to press, the orignal March 13 hearing was rescheduled to Friday, Apil 3, after a week of haggling by attorneys representing both sides. Meanwhile, President Scott is reportedly back to driving truck, hauling goods and livestock around the 4-state region, as he tries to ward off bankruptcy. A 60-day suspension, plus attorney fees, cuts heavily into a president's salary, not to mention other mounting debts. Evidence of his inability to manage personal income has been present ever since he took office, say administration insiders, starting with his repeated requests for advances on his pay check to the finance office, and needing more advances after each pay period. This inability to manage funds has carried over into his role as president, repeatedly stalling when ordered by RST Council to present fiscal-year budgets for programs administered by his office. This and other shortcomings places the tribe's president in an untenable position, say political observers, especially since he's up for reelection this year. Whether President Scott can survive this highly charged political situation, makes for an exciting election year for political junkies. Stay tuned.

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