ALLEGANY TERRITORY, NY (release) - Seneca Nation of Indians
Clerk Diane Kennedy Murth, citing the Seneca Nation Constitution of 1848 and its Ethics Law, ruled today that a Council vote to remove President Robert Odawi Porter’s as CEO Saturday is voided.
Based on that finding, President Porter directed all Seneca Nation government agencies and employees to ignore any orders from the purported chief executive officer, Councillor Michael L. “Spike” John.
The Clerk’s ruling restores the political status quo to the way it was prior to Saturday’s voided action.
In a certified document, Clerk Kennedy Murth said:
“Section VI of the Constitution of the Seneca Nation of Indians of 1848, as amended, establishes the office of the Clerk with such duties as prescribed by law; and the Nation’s customary law has been that all actions of the Council must be certified by the Clerk to constitute official acts of the Nation;”
“On Nov. 12, 2011, the Council purported to enact a resolution to remove President Robert Odawi Porter from the position of Chief Executive Officer and appoint Councillor Michael L. John to said position at the salary of the previous Chief Executive Officer;
“…said vote occurred with Councillor Michael L. John and his brother Donald John participating in said vote with Donald John seconding the motion and both voting in the affirmative;
“And Section 2.2(a) of the Nation’s Ethics Law prohibits Nation officials from acting upon matters in which they or their family members have a personal interest.”
“The vote by the Council on Nov. 12, 2011 to remove President Robert Odawi Porter as Chief Executive Officer and appoint Councillor Michael L. John to said position was taken in violation of the Nation’s Ethics Law;
“Such action cannot be certified by the Clerk as a lawful action of the Nation’s Council and is therefore null and void.”
The president’s subsequent executive order, based on the Clerk’s ruling and the Nation constitution, states the following:
“On Nov. 13. 2011, Nation Clerk Diane Kennedy Murth determined that the vote taken to enact the [Council’s] CEO Resolution was entered into in violation of the Nation’s Ethics Law and thus could not be certified, rendering it null and void;
“Section I of the Constitution of the Seneca Nation of Indians of 1848, as amended, provides that there shall be a government comprised of separate legislative, executive, and judiciary branches.”
“Based upon the actions of the Nation Clerk and the separation of powers contained within the Nation government … the appointment of Councillor Michael L. John to the position of Chief Executive Officer, an executive branch employee, is hereby declared null and void.”
Further, President Porter ordered: “that no order, directive, or instruction to any Nation employee from Michael L. John, nor any information or statement regarding the Nation’s interests conveyed to any non-Nation governmental official or the media, shall have any force or effect.”
The Nation clerk’s office handles all record keeping for the government and is an elected position. One of the clerk’s chief duties is certifying Council actions.
On Saturday, President Porter announced that the Seneca Nation Council voted to remove him from his position as CEO. He said that as the Nation’s elected president, he continued to lead the Nation.
President Porter said the Council’s decision reflects political discontent about his administration cracking down on corrupt insider deals that marked previous Nation administrations.
Noting his support from Council Chairman Richard Nephew and that he was elected with 77 percent of the vote just more than a year ago, Porter said his “opponents in government, unfortunately, reflect the ‘old direction’ that I believe the Seneca people rejected last fall.”
President Porter concluded his statement Saturday: “This decision is rife with dirty politics. Spike John voted on his own position and his own brother seconded the motion.”