Farmington — Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly has used his line-item veto authority on supplemental funding requests made by the three domestic violence shelters on the reservation.

The Navajo Nation Council approved $470,786 in supplemental funding during the spring session in April.

The Home for Women and Children in Shiprock requested $180,000, the Tohdenasshai Committee Against Family Abuse Inc. in Kayenta, Ariz., wanted $210,000 and the Ama Doo Alchini Bighan Inc. in Chinle, Ariz., asked for $80,786.

The president explained his reasons for using his veto authority in a May 5 memorandum to Speaker Pro Tem LoRenzo Bates and to the council.

Shelly wrote his decision was based on a 2011 Evaluation Report on the Home for Women and Children.

Children’s bikes are pictured on March 3 at the Home for Women and Children in Shiprock. Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly has vetoed supplemental
Children's bikes are pictured on March 3 at the Home for Women and Children in Shiprock. Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly has vetoed supplemental funding requests made by the three domestic violence shelters on the reservation, including the Shiprock shelter. (Megan Farmer — The Daily Times)

Officials with the contract compliance section of the Navajo Nation Division of Social Services completed the report.

The president wrote the Home for Women and Children had been given notice to compile a corrective action plan to address non-compliance issues.

Those issues included exposing clients' confidential information, failing to provide staff development and training policy and procedures, failing to comply with personal policies and financial discrepancies.

"It is not fiscally responsible for the nation to further fund an organization with a record of non-compliance," Shelly wrote.

Gloria Champion, executive director of the Home for Women and Children, declined to comment on Shelly's line-item veto.

Shelly also wrote that the three shelters were awarded federal funding through the Division of Social Services.

The president referred to a May 2 memorandum from the tribe's Office of Management and Budget, which stated the three shelters have requested funding from the tribe's general fund since early fiscal year 2014.

"Their primary reason given for the supplemental funding was due to the funding not being received from the federal sources through DSS in a timely manner that would result in a ceasing of operations," Shelly wrote. "However, the federal funding did arrive before supplemental request."

He further elaborated that the budget form attached to the council's resolution shows other funding sources were used to continue operations.

Shelly's spokesman, Rick Abasta, reiterated the president was concerned with the non-compliance issues raised in the 2011 evaluation report.

The president also wanted assurance the supplemental funding would have gone directly to services for the shelters' clients, Abasta said.

The Daily Times requested a copy of the 2011 evaluation report but was denied.

Sharon Begay-McCabe, executive director of the Division of Social Services, wrote in an e-mail that the evaluation report is an internal document and is a review, not an investigation. She said a copy was sent to the Home for Women and Children for a corrective action plan.

Both Elise Smallcanyon, acting shelter director for Tohdenasshai, and Lorena Halwood, executive director for Ama Doo Alchini Bighan, could not be reached for comment on Friday.

Delegate Jonathan Hale, who sponsored the legislation containing the supplemental funding requests, said he tried to meet with Shelly to discuss the resolution but was unsuccessful.

"I tried to get a hold of the president before he did what he had to do," Hale said on Friday.

Hale, who represents the chapters of Oak Springs and St. Michaels in Arizona, said the shelters received grant letters late last year from the Division of Social Services, which distributes federal funding to the shelters, but that money has not been made available.

"Domestic violence is still there," he said. "People still show up, both men and women."

Hale says he is continuing to work with the shelter directors to secure funding because, under tribal law, the council cannot override the president's line-item veto.

Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4636 and nsmith@daily-times.com. Follow her on Twitter @nsmithdt on Twitter.