Several candidates in the primary election of Rocky Boy’s Indian Reservation’s Tribal council have filed a request to overturn the October primary and hold stop Tuesday’s general election.
The group filed the suit Thursday, alleging that the Rocky Boy election committee did not properly conduct background checks and eliminate unqualified candidates as required by the laws of the Chippewa Cree Tribe.
Stacey Small said he filed Wednesday an injunction asking the primary be overturned and new elections scheduled.
Small, Donovan Stump, Glenn Eagleman, David Russette, Jonathan Gopher, Alfred Parker, Peter LaMere, Shane Saddler and Jesse Henderson filed the suit. All were candidates in the primary but did not advance to the general election.
Small said this is not intended as a personal attack. He and the other candidates simply are exercising their rights as Tribal members, voters and candidates, he said.
“None of this would have happened, and nobody is to blame, if procedures were just followed on the election ordinance,” he said this morning. “It’s sad that it has to go this far. The Chippewa Cree Constitution was written before I was born, and the election ordinance as well, and we are just going off what is written.”
The Tribal Court administrator could not be reached for comment Thursday or this morning.
Small said he has not received any word on what action the court is taking on his request to stop the election and on his lawsuit.
Incumbent council member Rusty Gopher, who also lost in the primary but is not a party to the suit, said it is not an issue about losing, it is an issue of fairmess.
“I made it a point to my colleagues right away that I don't mind losing. I just prefer to lose fairly,” Gopher said in an e-mailed statement. “That's what this protest and injunction is all about.”
Gopher said not following all parts of Tribal election laws creates questions about how fair the elections are.
In his affidavit supporting the lawsuit, provided to the Havre Daily News before the affidavit or lawsuit were filed, Stacey Small said that he had filed a complaint with the election board after the primary because one of the candidates who did advance had been convicted of a felony and sentenced to three years of probation less than five years prior to the election.
Under Tribal law, Tribal members are not candidates if less than five years have passed after serving out a sentence on a felony conviction.
The board responded that the record of the candidate, Neal Rosette Sr., had been checked and because the charge had been dismissed, he was eligible to run.
Rosette was convicted of forgery by common scheme in January 2005, after he was accused of forging names on a checking account belonging to a business he and another man had started.
Judge David Rice imposed a three-year deferred imposition of sentence on Rosette. As per state law, once he served out the probationary period the charge was struck from his record and his case sealed.
In the lawsuit, the plaintiffs allege that Rosette did not file the proper request to have the case dismissed, and that becuause of that the charge was not actually dismissed although the case was sealed.