Kiowa Tribal Legislature Speaker Dies of COVID-19

Kiowa Tribe District 7 Legislator and legislature speaker Angela Chaddlesone McCarthy died Thursday, September 17th, following a battle with COVID-19, said fellow District 7 Legislator Jacob Tsotigh.

“I feel a deep sense of loss,” Tsotigh said. “She had been speaker for over a year. She was a strong leader, a very strong leader, very persistent and committed to serving the people despite her own challenges.”

Tsotigh said McCarthy battled diabetes even as she worked to serve the tribe.

“She was a diabetic who underwent weekly dialysis multiple times, and also had suffered an amputation a couple of years ago. She continued despite her physical limitations,” Tsotigh said. “She helped to assist constituents with services and programs our tribe had to offer.”

Tsotigh described his colleague as instrumental in what he called “historic” impeachment proceedings against Kiowa Tribal Chairman Matthew Komalty first initiated in June.

“In my short tenure in the legislature, she was very very strong. She was able to guide us to a historic moment in our tribe. This is the first time we’ve ever brought impeachment proceedings against the leadership of our tribe,” Tsotigh said. “She was successful in filing an injunction against the chairman, and in helping suspend the efforts of the chairman to expend those resources without having been constitutionally appropriated.”

The funds in question are CARES Act funds allocated to the tribe, which Komalty allegedly spent without approval from the legislative branch or the Kiowa Indian Council.

The legislature brought five articles of impeachment against Komalty in June. The case remains at a standstill following a temporary restraining order filed by Komalty, preventing tribal legislature from taking further action.

Komalty contended in the restraining order that he would not receive sufficient due process.

McCarthy’s passing may push impeachment proceedings beyond the 90 day limit on such efforts, Tsotigh said.

Judge Shannon Edwards with the Court of Indian Offenses stated Wednesday that the tribe could not proceed without all seven members of the legislature present, Tsotigh said.

“Our contention was we should be able to convey that since that ruling was the unanimous vote of the remaining legislators,” Tsotigh said. “The judge questioned that and said that all seven legislators must be involved in that vote. We were trying to be proactive in the fact the speaker was gravely ill and probably could not proceed with impeachment hearings.”

While McCarthy’s vote – absent due to her illness – was not the only issue impeding proceedings, her death “dramatically impacted” the process, Tsotigh said.

“We have to fill that position, we have to call for a special election, and that has to occur so we have the seven representatives required by our constitution,” Tsotigh said. “The vote for impeachment occurred June 23 and we have a 90 day process and it doesn't look like we're going to make that requirement. The vote was taken to begin the process of impeachment and five articles were developed and were being considered when we met in August. Originally we were scheduled for August 23 and that was pushed back because a couple of our legislators had tested positive for COVID.”

Tsotigh said McCarthy’s leadership would be “sorely missed.”

“She served rigorously,” he said. “She has been a valuable member of the legislative branch.”

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