KALISPELL — The chairman of the Blackfeet Tribal Business Council suspended two councilmen - a state senator who faces a DUI charge and another on allegations of improper conduct on a recent trip to Washington, D.C. - after the business council did not act on his request for a formal vote on the suspensions.
Chairman Willie Sharp Jr., said he suspended Sen. Shannon Augare, D-Browning, and Leonard Guardipee on Thursday morning in his role as head of personnel for the tribe.
He says he's not sure if the suspensions are legal, but says it is what the people wanted.
"I'm in uncharted waters," Sharp said. But "I'm trying to do what's right for the people."
Last week, Sharp sent Augure a letter asking him to step down until his legal matters were sorted out. Augare replied that he would not unless a majority of the council members voted him out.
The Blackfeet Tribal Business Council issued a statement Thursday saying the full board does not consider the two suspended.
Augare is charged with misdemeanor counts of drunken driving, reckless driving and obstruction of a peace officer. He is accused of fleeing a Glacier County sheriff's deputy who had pulled him over in May on U.S. Highway 2 on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation.
He is being prosecuted in federal court after Blackfeet chief prosecutor Carl Pepion referred the case to the U.S. attorney's office. His trial is set for Nov. 7.
Sharp said Guardipee was suspended for his actions on a recent tribal business trip.
"I find it disturbing that someone would go on a trip with tribal money but not perform his duties," Sharp said.
Augare did not return phone messages from the newspaper seeking comment and his attorney's phone rang unanswered.