Ken Blatt St. Marks has apparently survived another effort to get his name off the ballot in the July 30 elections for Chippewa Cree tribal chair.
St. Marks said Tribal Judge Donna Running Wolf ruled Thursday that the provision of tribal code that the Election Board initially used to throw him off the ballot was unconstitutional.
The provision says that after a person is removed from tribal office for misconduct, they are ineligible to run for two years.
St. Marks said Running Wolf ruled that provision was added to tribal law in 1966 by the council, but never voted
on by the people as required by the Chippewa Cree Constitution.
Running Wolf was not in her office this morning.
St. Marks was removed from office by the tribal council in March on charges that he had misused funds and harassed employees, allegations that St. Marks and his supporters strongly dispute. They contend that the tribal council wanted him out because he was helping federal prosecutors root out criminal activity in the tribal government. Several people have been arrested, and the federal probe continues.
He is now running in the July 30 special election to get his old job back.
Earlier, the Election Board ruled him off the ballot, saying he was ineligible because he had been removed from office.
Then-Judge Duane Gopher overturned the Election Board ruling, reinstated St. Marks to the ballot and was promptly fired by the tribal council.
Running Wolf was hired to replace Gopher, and the election process started fresh.
But an anonymous objection was made to St, Marks’ candidacy and that case went before Running Wolf Thursday.
St. Marks said he had initial misgivings about Running Wolf’s objectivity but was pleased with the outcome.
“She seemed like a very fair judge,” he said.
St. Marks said he hears good things from Rocky Boy residents, and he is hopeful of success in the voting.
“But you never know until the voters speak,” he said.
He said he sees no further avenues for his opponents to take to keep him off the ballot, “but you can never tell with these people.”
In addition to St. Marks, running in the elections are acting Business Committee Chair Richard “Ricky” Morsette, state Sen. Jonathan Windy Boy, Curtis A. “Bubba” Monteau Jr ., Luanne Belcourt and Bert Corcoran.