- By Lenzy Krehbiel Burton
ANADARKO, Okla. — The status of the Kiowa Tribe of Oklahoma’s impeachment proceedings remained in a holding pattern over the weekend.
Judge Shannon Edwards with the Court of Indian Offenses heard arguments for almost 90 minutes last Wednesday on whether to issue an injunction, thus further barring the Kiowa Tribe’s legislature from continuing impeachment hearings against Chairman Matthew Komalty.
As of last Friday a ruling has not been issued.
Komalty made the request, citing concerns about COVID-19 exposure and that his due process rights would not be protected. A temporary restraining order remains in place, prohibiting the legislature from further action. The legislature conducted a two-hour hearing on July 30, which Komalty did not attend.
“It was not a criminal trial,” legislative counsel Gary Pitchlynn said. “He is a dually elected official. The chairman chose not to attend.”
Passed unanimously by the legislature in June, Komalty faces five impeachment counts, including allegations he violated the tribe’s constitution by spending CARES Act money without first getting a budget approved by the legislative branch or the Kiowa Indian Council, which is open to all Kiowas over age 18.
While questioning legal counsel for both branches, Edwards expressed concerns about some of the procedures followed in the lead-up to the impeachment hearing but acknowledged that they were not necessarily fatal flaws.
“I’m concerned about the fact that what I see is that this is a working draft of the charges,” Edwards said. “That needed to be a formal draft included with the order instead of as an attachment. It is not clear to me that these are saying they’re articles of impeachment. It’s not clear to me from this order. These things can be corrected in short order.”
Meanwhile, a separate injunction from the Court of Indian Offenses still remains in place preventing the tribe from spending any more of its CARES Act money until a budget is approved by the legislature and Kiowa Indian County. A budget vote is scheduled for Aug. 22.
The executive branch has indicated it will appeal that order. About 500 applications were pending at the time the injunction was granted.
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