The proper administration of democratic government requires that elected officials be independent, impartial, and responsible to the Navajo people; the government decisions and policy be made in the best interest of the Navajo people, the community and the government; and that the public have confidence in the integrity of its government.
The Navajo Nation Ethics in Government Law was orginally enacted by the Navajo Nation Council on August 9, 1984. (CAU-40-84) Subsequent to this, several amendments were made. Also, in April, 2005, the Navajo Nation Council supplemented the Ethics in Government Law by enacting the Navajo Nation Ethics in Government Law Garnishment Act of 2005. CAP-22-05 (amended for clarification by CJY-18-07). This addition permits, through the Courts, the garnishment of wages for violations of the Ethics in Government Law.
Standards of Conduct
In addition to those prohibitions in the Ethics in Government Law, the Ethics and Rules Committee has adopted supplemental rules and regulations governing the conduct of Navajo Nation Elected Officials. Copies of these amended regulations are available at the Ethics and Rules Office and website.
Conflicts of Interest
A primary purpose of the Ethics law is to address conflicts. Accordingly an important aspect of the Ethics in Government law concerns conflicts of interests. The law contains provisions which address economic interests, incompatible interests, confidential information, government contracts, participation in decision making, gifts and loans, use of public property and money, staff misuse, and the employment of relatives.
Public awareness through education is critical for purposes of ensuring compliance with the law. A funuction of the Ethics and Rules Office is to inform the public of the following areas of the Ethics law; (including rules and regulations); the investigation process; complaints and hearing procedures; and seeking and obtaining Advisory Opinions. Further, it is important that people of the Navajo Nation have a general understanding of what is required of all elected officials and employees of the Navajo Nation. As with all government funuctions, public awareness helps ensure accountability.
Reports of Violations / Investigations
Any person may report a violation of the Ethics in Government Law and all allegations are reviewed by the Ethics and Rules Office. The following are the steps involved:
- All reports of violation are filed with the Ethics and Rules Office. Allegations must be in writing and submitted on an official intake form provided by the office.
- The form must contain the names and addresses of the complaining party and the person who is being accused.
- The report of violation must state the facts constituting the alleged violation of the Ethics in Government Law and should contain supporting documents.
- The report of violation must be signed by the complaining party, acknowledging the belief that the law has been violated.
The office will investigate matters related to Ethics in Government Law and will determine whether a formal complaint will be filed. If a formal complaint is warranted, a complaint is drafted by the Office. If a formal complaint is warranted, a complaint is drafted by the Office and filed with the Office of Hearings and Appeals
Due Process; Hearing
All rules and procedures in filing a formal complaint must comply with all due process requirements. Aside the basic notice and hearing requirements, the Respondent is afforded the following basic rights:
- Legal Counsel (at own expense)
- Informed of all complaints and allegations
- Confront and cross-examine all witnesses
- Provided an opportunity to be heard, and
- To produce testimony and evidence
The information contained herein is not a complete version of the Navajo Ethics in Government Law. A purpose of the summary made available here is to provide the general public a description of the duties and functions of the Ethics and Rules Office, as well as providing basic information about areas of the law pertaining to ethics and the conduct of elected officials.
The Ethics and Rules Office is available to assist individuals with any questions they may have concerning these restrictions, as well as any other questions involving any other area of the Ethics in Government Law.