Law | Politics

Appeal set in dispute over Navajo Nation presidential hopeful

Navajo Nation presidential candidate Russell Begaye and his running mate, Jonathan Nez. Photo from Facebook

A former candidate for president of the Navajo Nation will appeal the dismissal of his complaint against Russell Begaye.

Myron McLaughlin, who came in eighth in the primary, said he will take his grievance to the Navajo Nation Supreme Court. He believes Begaye can't run for president due to a lawsuit that questioned the authority of the tribe's court system.

"I think if you can do this and run for president, it is sending the wrong message to Navajo voters," McLaughlin told The Farmington Daily Times.

Begaye was a shareholder representative of the Navajo Nation Oil and Gas Company. An internal dispute led to the filing of a lawsuit in federal court that was eventually dismissed due to lack of jurisdiction.

Tribal law requires a candidate for president to demonstrate "unswerving loyalty" to the tribe. Chief Hearing Officer Richie Nez of the Navajo Nation Office of Hearings and Appeals said the filing of the lawsuit wasn't enough to disqualify Begaye.

"Ultimately, the question of loyalty is not decided by whether one seeks federal assistance," Nez wrote in the 14-page decision, a copy of which was posted by the Navajo Nation Council. "The question of loyalty is decided by examining one's faithfulness to the persons he or she represents."

Begaye, as the shareholder representative, "was not serving his own interests," Nez wrote. "There was no evidence that he was acting to benefit any other group other than the Navajo people."

Joe Shirley Jr., right, and his running mate, Dineh Benally. Photo from Twitter

Begaye is due to face Joe Shirley Jr., a former president, in the general election. An official date hasn't been set but it looks like it won't happen until early 2015.

Begaye came in third in the primary but was added to the ballot after Chris Deschene, who came in second, was disqualified for not being fluent in the Navajo language. The controversy led to the delay of the election.

Get the Story:
Election grievance against Navajo Nation presidential candidate Russell Begaye dismissed (The Farmington Daily Times 1125)
Begaye Can Run In Navajo Presidential Race (Fronteras 11/25)

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