The picture of the upcoming special election at Rocky Boy’s Indian Reservation could be changing again.
Three days after Michael “Big Mike” Corcoran announced he was withdrawing his candidacy for chair of the Chippewa Cree Tribe’s Business Committee, the man who was removed from that office said he is going to tribal court this afternoon to ask the election be put on hold and his name reinstated as a candidate.
“I just thought I would throw my name in again to see what the people are thinking,” Ken Blatt St. Marks said this morning.
St. Marks said he is scheduled to appear before Chippewa Cree Tribal Judge Duane Gopher at 3 p.m ., where he will ask for a temporary restraining order to delay the election, scheduled to start at 8 a.m. Tuesday, and to be reinstated as a candidate.
The Chippewa Cree Tribe Election Committee first approved St. Marks as a candidate, then disqualified him after someone, not identified by the committee, filed a protest.
With Corcoran’s withdrawal, as of this morning the candidates were acting Business Committee Chair Richard “Ricky” Morsette, state Sen. Jonathan Windy Boy, Curtis A. “Bubba” Monteau Jr ., Luanne Belcourt and Bert Corcoran.
The other members of the Business Committee unanimously voted March 25 to remove St. Marks, who was elected last November, from office, saying it was due to “neglect of duty and gross misconduct,” which is specified in the Chippewa Cree Tribe’s constitution as a reason an elected official can be removed from office.
St. Marks has said his removal, and previous suspension, were done in retaliation for his investigating what he says was misconduct and misuse of federal money, including cooperating with federal investigators looking into the allegations.
Since his removal, the office of the U.S. Attorney for the District of Montana has filed charges on six people alleging embezzlement of federal money from the Rocky Boy’s/North Central Montana Regional Water System, including on John “Chance” Houle, a Business Committee member who voted to remove St. Marks from office March 25.
The Business Committee announced in a press release after the first five indicted, including Houle, pleaded not guilty that those who were indicted would be suspended without pay.
After a protest was filed protesting St. Marks’ candidacy, the Election Committee declared him ineligible, citing tribal ordinance No. 2-66 10(d), “any person who has within two years preceding the election been removed from the Business Committee for neglect of duty, is deemed as being not qualified.”
St. Marks said this morning that the ordinance, approved in 1966, has not been in use for years. He said that when he filed, the election official gave him the current ordinances and the cited ordinance was not included.
“Then, all of a sudden, they came in with something that’s from 1966,” he said.