All six members of the Ute Tribe's ruling Business Committee were ousted from office during a daylong meeting Tuesday, but the tribe's attorney said the informal recall election violated the tribe's Constitution.
In a 119-5 vote, the six were removed from office after grievances were raised by a dissident group of Utes calling themselves Concerned Tribal Members, tribal attorney Steve Boyden said.The complaints included alleged misuse of tribal funds, 85 percent unemployment on the Uintah-Ouray Reservation, education problems, law and order difficulties and a recent Business Committee law exempting itself from tribal court jurisdiction, Boyden, a Salt Lake attorney, said.
"It's very difficult to say that this Business Committee is responsible for all the underlying problems on the reservation," Boyden said.
"People are unhappy with what's going on and they expressed it . . . I think yesterday's action has to be viewed in that light."
Boyden said the Ute Constitution requires that a petition process followed by a formal recall election among the 3,000 Ute tribal members be conducted before a member of the committee can be removed from office.
Meanwhile, three members appointed by the dissident group to serve as the acting Business Committee demanded keys to the Business Committee offices on Tuesday but were refused, Boyden said.