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Nancy Spears

Gaylord News

The impeachment trial for Matthew Komalty, chairman of the 14,000-member Kiowa Tribe in Oklahoma, was halted Thursday after the Court of Indian Offenses ordered a delay.

Komalty sought the delay because of a concern that two legislators were reportedly exposed to COVID-19, one receiving a false positive test result, according to Angela McCarthy, the legislature’s speaker. The impeachment trial is now set to resume Wednesday.

Komalty is facing impeachment on multiple charges: mishandling CARES Act funds, wrongful termination of Kiowa gaming employees, failing to go through the proper process on the annual tribal audit, failing to ensure that the tribe’s treasurer was properly bonded, salary increases given without approval, and the wrongful and unapproved appointment of an executive director.

(Related: Kiowas seeking to impeach chairman)

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The Kiowa Constitution outlines that impeachment requires a unanimous vote by all seven legislators. 

If an unanimous vote occurs, Komalty’s impeachment and removal from office would be effective immediately. Vice Chairman Rhonda Ahhaitty would replace Komalty for the duration of the four-year term, and would be responsible for selecting a new vice chairman.

The seven tribal legislators unanimously approved proceeding with the Komalty’s impeachment on June 23.

Komalty also is looking at a potential recall election to vote him out. The recall petition was launched on June 20, only three days before the legislature voted to move forward on impeachment.

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Gaylord News is a reporting project of the University of Oklahoma Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication.