The voters on Rocky Boy’s Indian Reservation have spoken and contradicted an action of their tribal council.
In a special election to fill the vacant chair of the Chippewa Cree Tribe’s Business Committee, Ken Blatt St. Marks — whom the council unanimously removed from office March 25 — received 453 votes, 40.6 percent of the 1,116 cast.
Richard “Ricky” Morsette, whom the council appointed interim chair after he voted with the other members to remove St. Marks, received 345 votes, 28.2 percent.
State Sen. Jonathan Windy Boy, a former council member and vice chair, received 192 votes. Bert Corcoran received 32 votes and Luanne Belcourt received 16.
St. Marks could not be reached for comment this morning.
The election came after a tumultous process of removing St. Marks then holding the election. That included the election board first approving St. Marks as a candidate, then disqualifying him after a protest was filed, with the board, citing a 1966 ordinance preventing people removed from office for neglect of duty from running within two years.
He was put back on the ballot again, then taken off again. In the last process, Chief Judge Donna Running Wolf said the 1966 ordinance was unconstitutional because it never was brought to the voters for approval.
The Business Committee said in a release after it removed St. Marks from office March 25 that it was due to gross misconduct and negligence, including employee harassment.
Fawn Tadios, CEO of the Rocky Boy Health Committee, successfully asked for a protection order against St. Marks, saying he harassed her including yelling at her, making inappropriate jokes and comments, and attempting to touch her inappropriately.
St. Marks has maintained that his removal was due to his investigating what he calls misuse of federal money and other problems at the reservation, including cooperating with federal investigators.
After his removal from office, the federal government in two separate cases indicted several tribal officials, including council member John “Chance” Houle, who voted to remove St. Marks, and others who are not members of the tribe, on charges of embezzlement.
Tadios is another tribal official indicted.
All of the people indicted have pleaded not guilty and are awaiting trial on the charges.