MVSKOKE RESERVATION, Okla. – Mvskoke Media has several long-term stories we are monitoring. Here is an update on the ongoing coverage.
Muscogee (Creek) Nation District Court
Former MCN National Council Representative Travis Scott has a pre-trial conference hearing scheduled for Aug 1. Scott was charged with Felony False Swearing and four misdemeanor charges of Conflict of Interest by Tribal Officials on Feb. 11, 2022. These charges were filed in relation to Scott’s impeachment, which was found unconstitutional by the MCN Supreme Court.
MCN National Council Representative Joseph Hicks is scheduled to appear in court on July 7 for his second misdemeanor DUI charge, filed on Feb 14.
The trial for Rhonda Grayson and Jeffery Kennedy’s suit against the MCN Citizenship Board concluded April 4, 2023. It has been close to two months and no decision has been delivered.
Oklahoma Supreme Court
Muscogee (Creek) citizen Alicia Stroble was handed a win last year when an administrative law judge for the Oklahoma Tax Commission ruled that she was exempt from paying state income taxes. Stroble is a tribal citizen that worked for the MCN government and resided in the reservation boundaries.
The Oklahoma Administrative Code delineates the following;
“Instances in which income is exempt. The income of an enrolled member of a federally
recognized Indian tribe shall be exempt from Oklahoma individual income tax when:
(1) The member is living within “Indian Country” under the jurisdiction of the tribe to which the
member belongs; and, the income is earned from sources within “Indian Country” under the
jurisdiction of the tribe to which the member belongs; or,” (Okla. Admin. Code § 710:50-15-2)
Although the code appears to be cut and dried, the tax commission decided that their own judge got it wrong and rejected Stroble’s appeal. After the tax commission decision, an appeal was filed, and the Oklahoma Supreme Court decided to retain the case instead of assigning it to the Oklahoma Court of Civil Appeals. The Muscogee (Creek) Nation, Seminole Nation, Cherokee Nation, Chickasaw and Choctaw Nation have all filed briefs supporting Stroble in the case.
The Oklahoma Supreme Court has not decided at this stage whether oral arguments will be heard in the case or if the justices will simply decide the matter based on the briefs. Mvskoke Media will report the court’s decision as soon as it is available.
Bacone College has been put on heightened cash monitoring by the U.S. Department of Education. Heightened cash monitoring is instituted by the department when colleges or universities have a number of financial or federal compliance issues. Bacone was placed on Heightened Cash Monitoring 1 (HCM1) on March 1 of this year.
There are two levels of heightened cash monitoring. The first, HCM1 occurs when a school makes disbursements to eligible students from institutional funds. The disbursement records are submitted to the Common Origination and Disbursement (COD) System. Federal Student Aid funds are used to cover those disbursements.
The second, HCM2 is where a school no longer receives funds under the Advance Payment Method. After disbursements are made to students from an institution’s own funds, a Reimbursement Payment Request must be submitted to supply the funds.
Higher learning institutions can be placed on HCM1, or HCM2 due to a number of issues. These can include late or missing annual financial statements, audits, outstanding liabilities, denial of re-certifications, concerns about the school’s administrative capabilities or concerns around a school’s financial responsibility. Academic institutions on heightened cash monitoring can be searched by quarter on the FSA website.
Institutions also receive annual composite scores from the DOE that reflect their overall relative financial health. These are referred to as Financial Responsibility Composite Scores, and are scored on a scale of negative one to positive three. Bacone’s Financial Responsibility Composite Score was reported as a 1.4 for the 2020-2021 financial year, the last financial year the composite scores were published.
Mvskoke Media previously reported on a Higher Learning Commission accreditation complaint filed by a former Bacone employee against the college. This complaint alleged that Bacone had Clery Act violations that had resulted in a $200,000 fine. Mvskoke Media has since received a statement from a spokesperson at the Department of Education on the fines.
According to the statement, “As of October 2022, the fine is still pending. Fines are not reported on the public page until they are imposed.”
Mvskoke Media will continue to monitor these stories and publish updates when available.