Second attempt underway to remove Navajo Nation Council speaker

Noel Lyn Smith The Daily Times
The Daily Times

Farmington — Members of the Navajo Nation Council are once again being asked to consider legislation to remove Speaker Johnny Naize.

The latest legislation aimed at removing Naize was posted Wednesday on the council's website, starting its five-day public comment period.

Delegate Alton Joe Shepherd is sponsoring the bill, which will be eligible for committee action on Tuesday and was assigned to the Naa'bik'íyáti' Committee and the council, where final authority rests.

This is the second time Shepherd, who represents Cornfields, Ganado, Jeddito, Kin Dah Lichíí and Steamboat chapters in Arizona, has sponsored this type of bill.

The first version did not receive the 16 votes needed to pass during the winter session in January.

The new bill once again points out that Navajo law mandates the speaker be a "good standing" member of the council who serves at the "pleasure" of the governing body.

Naize, who represents Arizona's Blue Gap-Tachee, Cottonwood-Tselani, Low Mountain, Many Farms and Nazlini chapters, is serving a second term as speaker.

The legislation mentions that Naize is facing conspiracy and bribery charges filed by the tribe's special prosecutor and was named as a co-conspirator in the complaint against former delegate Raymond Joe.

Joe pleaded guilty last month to conspiracy to commit bribery in connection to abusing the council's discretionary fund.

In Joe's plea agreement, he admitted that from 2007 to 2009, he entered into agreements with Naize to provide financial assistance to his family members.

Shepherd could not be reached for comment on Wednesday, but in a press release issued Monday, he explained his reasons for introducing the bill.

"Several delegates who voted against the removal of Speaker Naize, in January, have since spoken with me and indicated to me that they would support the second removal legislation due to the fact that Mr. Naize's public statement 'I will be fully exonerated' is now diminished in their view," Shepherd said.

Shepherd added there are "serious concerns" of Naize's fiduciary responsibility and authority and accountability and credibility as Legislative Branch chief.

Prior to submitting the legislation on Feb. 28, Shepherd said he made Naize aware of the bill.

"I also conveyed to him that the opportunity to do the right thing is in his hands, once again and he should step down. Since our meeting, he has not done so," Shepherd said in the press release.

Naize's office referred a call for comment about the legislation to Naize's lawyer, Troy Eid. Eid declined to comment but said his client met with the special prosecutor on Tuesday.

Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4636 and

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