By JONAH LOSSIAH
One Feather Staff
An ethics investigations report has found there was ‘probable cause’ that Tribal Council Rep. Bo Crowe committed a Code of Ethics violation during an incident that occurred on Feb. 7.
The EBCI Office of Internal Audit and Ethics conducted this investigation following the filing of three complaints. The report states the identity of those that filed complaints is confidential. The situation in question happened after a meeting of the Cherokee Central Schools Board of Education. Tribal Council Rep. Crowe, who was assigned to attend School Board meetings, had an altercation with CCS Superintendent Michael Murray.
“After the meeting adjourned and a quick break, the school board members and school personnel returned to hear Mr. Crowe. Mr. Crowe began addressing Dr. Murray in what was described as a hostile manner including a raised voice and cursing,” as stated in the report.
The code violation that is being reviewed is Cherokee Code Section 117-45, Standards of Ethical Conduct. The report specifically addresses 117-45.3(d), which states:
“Tribal officials of the EBCI shall not act individually, jointly or through another, threaten, intimidate, or discipline any person as reprisal for any legitimate action taken by the person.”
The report said that the next step will be up to the Tribal leadership.
“It is recommended that this report be sent to the Executive Office, Tribal Council, the Attorney General’s Office, and the Tribal Prosecutor for the purposes of imposing the appropriate penalty as provided in Cherokee Code Chapter 117, Article IV.”
The case is now under review by these parties. If further action is deemed necessary, the case could move to Tribal Court. As stated in Section 117-45.3(f) of the Code:
“Any Tribal official who violates Cherokee Code, Chapter 117, Article IV, Section 117-45, Standards of Ethical Conduct, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and may be punished by the Cherokee Court or any successor court, by a fine of no more than $5,000.00 or 12 months’ confinement, or both.”
The Ethics Review Committee interviewed Rep. Bo Crowe regarding this case, as well as the three individuals that filed complaints and Superintendent Murray. Murray told the Cherokee One Feather that he ‘has the upmost respect for all of Tribal Council’ and that he was not involved with the filing of any complaints. He stated that his only involvement in the case was being interviewed at the request of the Ethics Review Committee.
The analysis of this investigation states the reason for probable cause. To come this conclusion, the individual in question must exhibit behavior that the investigator would consider ‘threatening and intimidating’. In their analysis of the incident and the relationship between Rep. Crowe and Superintendent Murray, the investigator said that ‘the behavior exhibited by Mr. Crowe was intimidating, unprofessional and inappropriate.’ The report continued in further detail.
“Mr. Crowe admitted to making the comment, ‘if I were on the school board, I would fire your ass’ to Dr. Murray. Mr. Crowe also admitted to another incident that had occurred at a ballgame in which he told Dr. Murray he had something on his shirt, put his finger on Dr. Murray’s chest and then when he looked down, Mr. Crowe popped Dr. Murray’s mask. Mr. Crowe also admitted to smashing Dr. Murray’s sandwich (with the wrapper on it). Witnesses confirmed Mr. Crowe had stuck his finger in Dr. Murray’s food a couple of times.”
The Cherokee One Feather attended the meeting in question. There was no formal closed session called, and this interaction did not occur during open session. The One Feather reporter exited the meeting following adjournment. The incident occurred shortly after the reporter had left.
“Mr. Crowe did not follow the school boards process regarding closed sessions; he waited until after the meeting and the press had left before confronting Dr. Murray. The school board only goes into closed session when an attorney is present. When asked about the temperament of Mr. Crowe, it was described as ‘out of control’ and witnesses confirmed Mr. Crowe raised his voice and cursed at Dr. Murray. Witnesses characterized Mr. Crowe’s behavior as aggressive. Multiple witnesses stated they were shocked and taken aback by the events that had transpired. Mr. Crowe admitted he was upset when he confronted Dr. Murray, but believed his actions were justified.”
Rep. Crowe offered this following statement to the One Feather.
“I was taking up for two Indian women and I got three complaints.”
Tribal Prosecutor Cody White could not confirm if this particular case was being reviewed, but he did say that any reports filed to the Prosecutors Office from the Ethics Review Committee become a matter of ongoing investigation. He said that could not make comment on such a situation. White said that if there is further action taken following investigation, then the case will become a matter of public record.
EBCI Attorney General Michael McConnell offered the following statement when asked about the case:
“I can confirm that I have received a letter and report of investigation from the Ethics Review Committee (part of the Office of Internal Audit and Ethics) regarding an incident involving Representative Teresa McCoy, and a letter and report of investigation regarding an incident involving Representative Bo Crowe. The incidents involving Ms. McCoy and Mr. Crowe are not related. Both matters are under review. I have no further comment at this time.”
The One Feather has requested information on the incident involving Rep. McCoy but has not received it at this time.