- Associated Press - Saturday, March 12, 2016

CORTEZ, Colo. (AP) - Members of the Ute Mountain Ute tribe are calling for an independent investigation over concerns that some of the tribe’s money may have been misused after several staff members of the finance department were seen being escorted out of the tribal government offices by security officers last fall.

Federal authorities have jurisdiction over felony crimes committed on Native American reservations. They refused to provide details, but said no arrests have been made and no charges have been filed, the Cortez Journal reported (https://tinyurl.com/hcomabd ).

Tribe members are circulating a petition calling for a referendum seeking an independent investigation about whether there has been misuse of funds at the tribal finance department. The referendum also calls for anyone found guilty of financial corruption to be removed from office.

The petition for a referendum is called for by tribal laws that require valid signatures from 25 percent of voters, or about 300. The signatures must be verified by the tribe’s election board.

U.S. Attorney spokesman Jeff Dorschner said he would not confirm or deny the existence of any investigation into the tribe’s finances.

Ute Mountain Ute attorney Peter Ortego did not return a phone call Saturday seeking comment.


Information from: Cortez Journal, https://www.cortezjournal.com/

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