Navajo high court halts discretionary spending

Flagstaff, Arizona (AP) January 2011

The Navajo Nation’s high court has banned elected tribal officials from doling out public money until the tribe establishes rules on their financial aid program.

The court made the decision this week in a case that challenged the reduction of the Tribal Council from 88 members to 24.

Tribal lawmakers set aside $150,000 in public money to mount the challenge. The Supreme Court justices said the appropriation was unlawful and that tribal officials failed to adequately review it.

Some lawmakers have been criticized for discretionary spending. All but 11 of the 88 lawmakers and the incoming tribal president face criminal charges in a probe of the spending.

One of the cases has been dismissed, but a judge has not ruled on whether it can be refiled.