Liz Gray/Managing Editor
OKMULGEE, Oklahoma – Trying to follow the Impeachment of Okfuskee District Representative Travis Scott gets murky, with suspended rules and executive sessions it becomes difficult to know what exactly is going on with the removal process, but over the past few months Mvskoke Media has been able to grab bits of information through the MCN judicial system’s court filings and various correspondence with the other two branches of the Muscogee (Creek) tribal government.
Earlier this year, public knowledge of accusations against Scott came to light through a press release by the Council as well as an impending impeachment.
In the press release, it was stated the following actions were to be taken against the Okfuskee Representative based on findings by the MCN National Council’s Fact-Finding and Investigations Committee and recommendations from the Internal Affairs Committee:
Letter of Reprimand from the Speaker, Public Censure by National Council Resolution, monetary fine of $50,000, cessation of compensation and expulsion from all National Council meetings and duties including committee assignments, ex-officio appointments and all meetings/sessions of the National Council.
The release also stated the Council would then commence the process and actions required by the Constitution in Article VIII regarding removal of a National Council member.
This was going to be a first for the Nation, the ousting of a sitting National Council Representative activated by the Council itself through investigation. It must be noted here that as of publication, Scott has never formally been charged with a crime in the MCN courts.
MODERN ERA HISTORY LESSON:
The very first removal of an elected official under the 1979 MCN Constitution happened right after the very first election was held. A petition introduced by voters would remove three Council Representatives by the end of 1980. A Muscogee Nation News article covering the removals stated, “For the first time since the ratification of the Muscogee (Creek) Constitution, Creek people are exercising their privilege as Creek citizens to express their opinion on tribal government.”
Claude Cox was Principal Chief during this time as well as the year 1989 when he vetoed legislation short titled “Officer Removal Act of 1989.”
The Act provided more power to the National Council by establishing an ordinance outlining procedures and causes for removal, but concern was raised in terms of Constitutional rights of the Muscogee (Creek) voters.
In the decision and order presented by the MCN District Court, Cox’s veto message of NCA 89-075 states his objections on the constitutionality of the legislation were based on the powers being taken away from the Muscogee (Creek) registered voters and creation of new powers in the Council that deny voters their rights in the removal process.
The National Council during the time would override the veto and the Act would become Title 31 “Removal of Officers” in the Muscogee (Creek) Nation Code and remains on the books as of today and this title of MCN Code is what was used as the vehicle to drive Scott out of his elected position. The entirety was not publicly available but has now been made available through the Court’s appendix in the decision.
INVESTIGATION AND ACTIONS OF NATIONAL COUNCIL FOR SCOTT’S IMPEACHMENT:
A series of events commenced the not-so-public prosecution of Rep. Travis Scott.
During the coverage of this impeachment, the information has either been unclear or the requests entered into a black hole of unanswered emails, FOIA requests and phone calls.
District Court filings along with National Council meetings and legislation have made some information clear and the timeline of the actions against Scott.
Evidence was placed under a protective order, which made testimonies against Scott unable to be acquired.
According to an Oct. 13, 2021 petition filed by Scott, in August 2020 the Fact Finding & Investigation Committee was tasked with investigating Scott’s ownership interest in a business located within his District. The committee specifically investigated whether he violated MCNCA Title 37 subsection 4-101. Scott did not participate in any part of the investigation.
The petition states on May 5, 2021, the National Council was provided a report on the investigation with no evidence included. Scott also claimed he received communication from Speaker Hicks requesting Scott submit his resignation or the removal process would be initiated.
On May 22, an Emergency Session was held which immediately went into executive session. The previously mentioned May 24 press release provided the Council’s decision in addressing the investigation of Scott.
A video posted by the National Council on May 27 shows motions made by Rep. Adam Jones III to suspend National Council rules and procedures, specifically Rule 114 H and begin the removal process, which was initially said to be the directive required by law. The Council then voted to expel Scott from the meeting as well as voted on the actions listed in their later press release.
On June 14, Mvskoke Media filed a FOIA requested any and all documents related to the censure, expulsion and fining of Rep. Scott which was denied.
On June 26, NCR 21-006 was introduced by sponsors Patrick Freeman Jr., James Jennings, Adam Jones, Joyce Deere and Anna Marshall. The censure legislation for Scott was voted on to implement the Public Censure addressed in the May 22 Emergency Session.
By July 27, engagement of Special Prosecutor Jeff Davis was approved.
Details of the accusations against Scott were presented in the National Council Directive during an August 12 Impeachment Session.
The Directive stated the cause of removal allegations to be Scott’s engagement in business transactions with numerous MCN business entities from January 2018 until approximately September 2020 with a total amount of $107,584.33. The National Council identified high crimes and misdemeanors as defined in MCNCA Title 31 and Title 37.
CONSTITUTIONALITY OF NCA 89-075 TALK:
The Court found that out of all of the Five Tribes in Oklahoma, only MCN provides for any involvement by registered voters in the removal process.
Not only do Muscogee (Creek) voters have the right to remove officers, they also play a role in the recall of elected officials. The power is with the people in the Muscogee Nation.
Title 31 has been deemed unconstitutional by the tribe’s District Court.
Cox’s concern manifested in the way the Impeachment has been handled. The critical move from the National Council in its pursuit to remove Scott was during the process, they forgot to ask the ones with the power; the people. Not just a certain few, but a measurable amount necessary to initiate a costly ordeal.
There has been discontent throughout MCN’s history of democracy. But the key component is in numbers.
Article VIII of the Constitution states that a removal petition signed by 20% of the registered voters in a district.
Scott lost his bid for Representative to Sandra Golden in the runoff election, finishing with 41.47% of the total votes cast. There were 1,796 registered voters in the Okfuskee District as of Sept. 9, 2021. Within the Okfuskee District, 216 total votes were cast during the primary election including early voting in Okemah. This number does not include the number of absentee ballots whose home district is Okfuskee. A proper dataset might give a better idea to whether or not the numbers were there to get the required petition to start the impeachment process, but the fact is that a petition was never made by any registered voter in the Okfuskee District.
As of publication, the MCN National Council has appealed the case in MCN Supreme Court.
According to MCN Constitution, Golden’s term begins at the first meeting of the National Council following the first day of January where she will be sworn into office. That same day, Scott’s term would end.
Reminiscent of national coverage during Donald Trump’s second impeachment, the question raised becomes “how do you impeach an elected official who is no longer in office?”
This is a developing story and Mvskoke Media will provide updates as they become available.