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More Trouble for President’s Daughter?

More Trouble for President’s Daughter?
May 21
08:14 2018

Currently on leave for a third driving under the influence charge, Karis Begaye, daughter of Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye, is facing mounting pressure to either resign or be fired from her job as legal counsel to the president.

Little more than a week ago the Fort Defiance Chapter passed a resolution calling for Begaye to be removed from office. Chapter President Wilson Stewart, Jr., said other chapters have asked for a copy of the resolution.

Now the Navajo Nation Council may follow suit.

Delegate Otto Tso, of the To’Nanees Dizi (Tuba City) Chapter, is working on legislation that he plans to bring before the council. Tso thinks Begaye should be fired.

Karis Begaye, 41, is also currently seeking treatment.

But will that be enough to save her job as legal counsel to the Office of the President?

This is Begaye’s third driving while intoxicated charge, though first in Arizona. She was also charged in New Mexico in 2002 and 2003.

Begaye’s latest arrest came on April 22 after she collided with a semi-trailer and destroyed about 40 feet of guardrail on Highway 17, south of Flagstaff.

Begaye apparently returned to work – and was issued a new tribal vehicle.

On May 5 Lynette Willie, former campaign manager for President Begaye, spotted Karis Begaye driving a tribal vehicle on Gallup. Willie followed for her toward Albuquerque while trying to get a picture of Begaye driving.

An image of Begaye behind the wheel was posted on a Facebook page committed to politics on the Navajo Nation. It caused an immediate uproar on social media.

Mihio Manus, a spokesman for President Begaye, confirmed Karis’ leave, but did not say whether it was unpaid or not.

In addition to DWI Begaye was charged with felony criminal damage and suspicion of endangerment. The felony charge could lead to a jail sentence of between six- and 18-months.

Begaye told the officer on the scene that she had had two glasses of wine.

In a May 4 statement, Begaye noted that man Navajo families have been impacted by alcoholism.

Because of that, the Begaye administration was declaring a “War on Alcoholism,” Manus said.

Manus did not say what discipline Begaye might face.

The Navajo Nation’s personnel policy calls for the immediate termination of any employee caught driving a tribal government vehicle while intoxicated, Tso said.

His legislation calls for equal and fair treatment, Tso explained.

When Hubert Smith, former director of the Navajo Veterans Administration, was caught for his 6th DUI he was immediately termined – not offered the choice of going to rehab – Tso said.

However Begaye falls outside of the tribe’s personnel policies because she serves at the will of the president.

Tso said there are other questions that the president’s office needs to answer.

Who is paying for Karis Begay’s rehab? And was she properly vetted to obtain a tribal vehicle, especially considering she had prior DUIs, Tso wondered.

A statement issued by the president’s office said the matter has been handled properly, and pointed out that no charges have been filed against Karis  Begaye yet.

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