Zah said the law firm hired to do a financial and legal analysis of purchasing the Navajo Mine near Farmington, N.M., specializes in aspects of the coal mining business. He said lawmakers have been given the opportunity to provide input on negotiating water rights and a lease extension for the power plant, but few have showed up to meetings.
As attorney general, Harrison Tsosie heads the tribe's Justice Department under its executive branch but serves at the pleasure of the Tribal Council. He survived an attempt at removing him from office in his final month as deputy attorney general under Joe Shirley Jr.'s administration. Harrison Tsosie's boss at the time, Louis Denetsosie, survived at least three votes in the Tribal Council to oust him. The council reprimanded Denetsosie in 2003, saying he favored the executive branch over the tribe as a whole.
Serving both the executive and legislative branches can be politically tricky. The key is to explain the law to clients and their options within the bounds of the law, said former Navajo Attorney General Levon Henry.
"With the Navajo Nation, sometimes that's difficult because everyone has an idea of what avenue to take," said Henry, who served as the tribe's attorney general from 1999 to 2003. "It's trying to get all those individuals — if it's the lawmakers, or the president, or the vice president, or any of the executive branch directors — to hear that advice and make a decision."
Delegate Russell Begaye hasn't decided which way to vote on Harrison Tsosie, but he would like to see a change in the approach the attorney general takes when working with the council. Begaye said he often gets the sense that the tribe is set in its old ways instead of pursuing new, innovative ways to move forward.
"If the removal of the attorney general will solve these issues, these questions I have, then I will support it," Begaye said. "But if the attorney general is willing to really work with the council and look at these issues from a different perspective, then I will support the attorney general remaining. I'm just looking for a change."
If Harrison Tsosie is removed from office, Deputy Attorney General Dana Bobroff would replace him until another appointment is made and that person is confirmed by the Tribal Council.