The impeachment trial for Matthew Komalty, chairman of the 14,000 member Kiowa Tribe 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 on Wednesday.
Komalty is facing impeachment for five total 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.
The Kiowa Constitution outlines that impeachment requires a unanimous vote by all seven legislators. If there’s a unanimous vote, Komalty’s impeachment and removal from office is effective immediately. Vice Chairman Rhonda Ahhaitty replaces Komalty for the duration of the four-year term, and would be responsible for selecting the vice chairman.
The seven tribal legislators unanimously approved proceeding with the Komalty’s impeachment on June 23.
At the same time, Komalty 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 impeach him.
Gaylord News is a reporting project of the University of Oklahoma Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication.