TGB Approves Hiring Outside Attorney in IHS Investigation of Clinic
By Joe Morey
The Lac Courte Oreilles Tribal Governing Board narrowly approved hiring an outside law firm, Jenner & Block, to contest handing over any financial documentation requested by Indian Health Service federal investigators in regards to a federal investigation into alleged wrongdoings at the Tribe’s clinic.
The vote occurred at their weekly council meeting on Monday, Sep. 14, by a vote of 3-2-0, with LCO Vice Chairwoman Lorraine Gouge, Sec-Treasurer Michelle Beaudin, TGB member Glenda Barber all voting in favor while Tweed Shuman and Don Carley voted against. Gary “Little Guy” Clause wasn’t in attendance at the meeting. LCO Chairman Louis Taylor who only votes in cases of a tie, stated for the record, he opposed hiring the outside law firm.
Describing themselves as a litigation powerhouse, Jenner & Block is a law firm of international reach with more than 500 lawyers in five offices, including Chicago, London, Los Angeles, New York, and Washington, DC.
Chairman Taylor asked why the Tribe needed to hire an attorney for such a large amount of money. The estimated cost to retain the law firm could be over $100,000.
Barber said the investigators have expanded their scope, but Carley pointed out that Chairman Taylor was successful in requesting a reduction in the scope.
“We don’t need outside counsel. The scope has actually been drastically reduced and they are only asking for documents and financial information of the current administration,” Carley said.
Taylor said in the original scope they were talking about looking at 40 directors across the Tribe, but now they are just looking at the TGB. He noted this should drastically reduce the attorney fees. He also stated the TGB hasn’t seen any background information on the law firm.
Shuman also stated there is no money in the budget for an outside attorney.
Barber stated the Tribe doesn’t have the manpower to handle the original scope. Beaudin added if the investigators find anything that’s off it sets off a red flag.
“We can still say, ‘wait a minute, this is what this is for,’ but it still sets off red flags,” Beaudin explained. She went on to say that investigators said this could take years. She said this investigation could drag on for quite a while.
Carley replied to Beaudin that he didn’t hear the investigators say that.
Shuman added the Tribe has a half a million dollars in Legal staff and one of them isn’t even working here at the tribal office.
Taylor stated if adhering to the request by the feds is that much work then we seek another extension.
“We don’t pay a hundred thousand dollars for an outside attorney,” Taylor stated.