An Osage Nation Attorney General’s advisory opinion is expected next week regarding the Election Office’s rule prohibiting candidate campaign signs in the Indian Villages.
Speaker Jerri Jean Branstetter is seeking the opinion from AG Jeff Jones, which she requested in writing on May 8 in a two-paragraph letter. She wrote:
“I request an advisory opinion on the following question:
Does the prohibition on placing campaign signs in the Indian Villages found in the Osage Nation Election Board rules and regulations violate the village residents’ right of equal protection under the law or right to free speech?”
Branstetter said she sought the opinion after hearing concerns that village residents were not able to place their campaign signs in their yards. Despite the rule, some residences had signs posted as of May 18 in Pawhuska Indian Camp. Elected to the First ON Congress in 2006 and Speaker since 2010, Branstetter is also seeking re-election to the Third ON Congress in the June 4 general election.
According to the Election Board Rules and Regulations (ONCR 11-19), “campaign signs shall not be posted on any Osage Nation property or in the Pawhuska, Hominy or Grayhorse Indian villages.”
If a campaign sign is posted on any Nation-owned property or in the Indian villages, the candidate shall be notified to remove the sign or “the sign can be removed by any party and returned to the Election Office where the candidate may pick up the campaign signs after signing a receipt for the campaign signs,” according to the rules and regulations.
The AG opinion request was briefly discussed during the Election Board’s May 14 meeting.
Assistant Attorney General Clinton Patterson said Jones should have an written opinion on the issue by the next Election Board meeting, which is scheduled for Tuesday May 22 at 2 p.m. at the Election Office, 518 Leahy.
The Election Board said it would also consider contacting and inviting the five-man boards for each district to the meeting for further input on the issue.