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Fort Peck tribal chairman suspended
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Fort Peck tribal chairman suspended

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Floyd Azure

Secretary of Interior Ryan Zinke talks with Fort Peck Tribal Chairman Floyd Azure in 2018.

Fort Peck Tribal Chairman Floyd Azure was suspended Thursday by the Assiniboine and Sioux Tribal Executive Board, according to a press release from the board.

The Tribal Executive Board issued a statement of charges Thursday seeking his removal claiming that Azure "acted in a manner prejudicial to the Tribes."

A hearing date before Fort Peck Tribal Executive Board to consider the removal of Azure has been set for Dec. 3.

The statement of charges allege that Azure took "inappropriate official action on behalf of BP Construction, despite the Tribes on-going litigation against BP Construction for breach of contract."

Azure allegedly "advocated on behalf of BP Construction to receive upfront payments outside of standard fiscal procedures," for the construction company to erect a metal building for the tribes, according to a statement of charges seeking his removal issued by the board.

After the company missed the deadline to erect the building, the chairman "did not pursue remedies from the Tribes to be reimbursed for expended funds exceeding $260,000." 

The Tribes' Chief Financial Officer Randy Redpath did not immediately return a call seeking more information on funding that was spent on BP Construction. 

The charges further state that Azure continually involved himself in BP Construction matters, even after the Tribes had filed litigation against the company for breach of contract.

Azure also allegedly advocated for the company to receive a small business grant, despite the pending litigation against the company and a Tribal Executive's Board's resolution to prohibit payments to the company.

The actions violated the Tribal Executive Board's code of ethics, according to the charges.

The Tribal Executive Board also said that the Chairman refused to attend meetings with the Tribal Executive Board committee after Aug. 24, failed to ensure programs that required background checks complied with the legal requirement and did not ensure that the Health Promotion Disease Prevent Program prepared an annual budget for approval. 

He is also accused of acting to create division, the statement of charges cites letters published in the Fort Peck Journal that "include false statements, personal opinions and unsupported allegations." 

Eight out of 12 members of the Tribal Executive Board signed the statement of charges.

"This is not a positive experience but action was required to take place in order to get to resolve some issues," board member Jestin Dupree wrote on Facebook. Dupree declined to comment to The Gazette. 

Board member Patricia Iron Cloud Runs Through said that the board acted appropriately. 

"We have to make sure that each of the programs for our tribe are secure, that they will be respected, that they don’t have to worry about their jobs being in jeopardy," she said during a Facebook Live video.

Azure served as chairman from 2009-2013, and was re-elected most recently in October 2019.

Efforts to reach Azure for comment Thursday were unsuccessful.

Vice Chairman Charlie Headdress will act as chairman during Azure's suspension. Headdress did not immediately return a call to his office requesting comment. 

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