Following several months of investigation and meetings of the Tribal Government Committee’s Rules Committee, the Colville Business Council voted March 6 to expel Benjamin Marchand, Jr. from their ranks, a tribal press release stated.
Marchand served from the Omak District. His term was set to expire in July of 2015.
The action stems from an ethics complaint filed against Marchand for misuse of his tribal credit card. The complaint was filed by Jack Ferguson, a council representative from the Keller District and member of the council’s Executive Committee.
Following an investigation and hearing on the matter, the Rules Committee found that Marchand violated the ethical standards set out for the Council by using his tribal credit card in violation of the Council’s credit card policy on eighteen counts.
The committee also determined that the violation constituted misfeasance, and recommended a two week suspension and restitution for the charges.
As the recommendation was read out for a vote by the full Council at last Thursday’s special session, a motion was made on the floor by Councilman Ricky Gabriel, of the Nespelem District, to amend the recommendation and replace the two week suspension with expulsion from the Council.
Debate was heard on the floor prior to a vote being taken on the amendment. The amendment was voted on, passed by a vote of 10 for, three against, and the amended recommendation was voted on with the same result.
Voting against the amendment and expulsion were John Sirois, N. Lynn Palmanteer-Holder, and Marchand, all of the Omak District.
According to the Council’s Code of Professional Responsibility, the expulsion removes the member for the remainder of their term, as well as deeming them ineligible from being a candidate in future elections.
Marchand was originally appointed to the council following the resignation of former Omak District representative Ferdinand Louie, and fulfilled the rest of that term. Marchand won election last year.
“This is a very difficult day for all of us,” said Council Chairman Michael O. Finley after the vote. “Nothing about this is positive or enjoyable, it’s a series of events that hurts us all. We are determined, however, to forge ahead with the best interests of our People and our lands in our hearts, and continue to do the best job we can.”
Once a position on the Council is declared vacant, an appointment by the Council occurs, in accordance with the Tribes’ Constitution.