FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Jan. 4, 2018
Muscogee (Creek) Nation Principal Chief Floyd Returns NCA 18-184 as Veto with Objections, States Improvements Needed
OKMULGEE, Okla. – Following the Muscogee (Creek) Nation National Council’s vote to adopt NCA 18-184 during the Dec. 15, 2018 Regular Session, Principal Chief James R. Floyd, pursuant to the Nation’s Constitution, has returned NCA 18-184 as a Veto with objections.
The legislation would repeal NCA 18-180 and restore the Independent Media Act as defined in NCA 15-218 and amended in NCA 15-242, both enacted in 2015 that deemed Mvskoke Media an independent statutory agency and created a three-member Editorial Board to oversee the operations of Mvskoke Media.
Chief Floyd supports Mvskoke Media’s free press rights while continuing the Nation’s efforts to better serve citizens and be good stewards of tribal funds by ensuring departmental accountability and efficiency.
Prior to the Dec. 15 Regular Session, National Council members were provided a substitute bill from the Executive Office to consider in place of NCA 18-184. However, members of the Council stated additional time to review the substitute documents was needed.
Chief Floyd spoke to the Council during the Dec. 15 Regular Session and referenced the substitute bill as he highlighted the recommended changes in the legislation.
“I think it represents the position of a number of people and a diverse group of people in that regard,” Chief Floyd said. “We have met and incorporated the comments of these groups and have a workable bill. So, that’s where we stand with the substitute bill.”
As outlined in Chief Floyd’s veto message to National Council Speaker Lucian Tiger III dated Jan. 4, 2019, the legislative objections to NCA 18-184 is that it does not address the operational inefficiencies identified since passage of NCA 18-180, does not designate Mvskoke Media as solely a news organization, does not address proper financial oversight on Mvskoke Media’s $1.57 million budget and does not adequately address the Editorial Board requirements.
Since passage of NCA 18-180 operational efficiencies have been identified that affect the use of tribal funds. Principal Chief Floyd states he intends to address these issues. He will prepare a plan and submit a report to the National Council on the actions taken. NCA 18-184 places Mvskoke Media as an independent statutory agency free from political influence. This arrangement does not allow for the implementation of the necessary improvements.
Principal Chief Floyd stated, “I believe the purpose of Mvskoke Media should be about covering and reporting the news. Only seven of the 18 Mvskoke Media positions are dedicated to news reporting”. Financial analysis has identified that approximately half of Mvskoke Media’s $1.57 million budget is not for news reporting. “I believe that any legislation going forward should designate Mvskoke Media as solely being a news organization,” Principal Chief Floyd said.
The veto message noted repealing NCA 18-180 returns financial responsibilities of Mvskoke Media to a single individual, the Mvskoke Media Manager. “I believe as a tribally funded program, any legislation pertaining to Mvskoke Media should address financial oversight,” stated Principal Chief Floyd.
Each of the past three years Mvskoke Media’s annual funding from the Nation has been in excess of $1.5 million, yet outside of annual budget hearings no review or oversight is provided for. Under prior legislation the Editorial Board mainly served to review editorial content.
NCA 18-184 does not address the possibility of there being no enrolled Muscogee (Creek) citizens being both available and meeting the specific requirements to serve on the Editorial Board. Under prior legislation the Editorial Board had specific requirements for experience and degrees. While these requirements may be responsibly placed, the legislation does not address if citizens meeting the requirements are not available to serve due to other restrictions.
Introduced by Council Rep. Adam Jones III and co-sponsored by Reps. Pete Beaver and James Jennings, NCA 18-180 was adopted during the Nov. 8 Emergency Session in a 7-6 vote of the National Council. Following passage, NCA 18-180 was signed into law by Principal Chief Floyd, which effectively placed Mvskoke Media under the Executive Branch in the Department of Commerce, along with Public Relations and the Department of Tourism and Recreation.
“I have remained dedicated to upholding the rights of Mvskoke Media’s free press,” Chief Floyd said. “I have not intervened in the daily operations of news reporting or restricted the independence of Mvskoke Media to pursue and report any news story.”
Below is the letter to National Council Speaker Lucian Tiger III