Mille Lacs judges uphold tribal chief’s removal

Mille Lacs, Minnesota (AP) 10-08

A special magistrate and three other judges have ruled in favor of the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe in its removal of chief executive Melanie Benjamin.

Benjamin has argued that the band assembly violated her constitutional rights and due process when it removed her from office.

The solicitor general of the Mille Lacs band, Rjay Brunkow, says the special court acknowledged that the removal proceeding has its own due process protections within it.

Benjamin’s lawyer, John Swimmer, says he and Benjamin respect the court’s decision. At the same time, he says they’re reviewing their options to fight it.

Benjamin was removed after an 18-month investigation found that she had allegedly put thousands of dollars in tribal funds to personal use.

The band assembly must now hold an election for a new chief executive.