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Hopi leader suspended after alleged intoxication

The Associated Press

The Associated Press

FLAGSTAFF – Hopi Chairman Ivan Sidney has been suspended by the tribe’s governing council after refusing to step down following allegations he violated the tribe’s code of conduct for allegedly being intoxicated at a hotel three months ago.

The Tribal Council on Tuesday suspended Sidney and his staff without pay pending an investigation by an outside prosecutor, Hopi officials said Wednesday.

Police reports show Sidney was staying at a Winslow hotel on June 27 when the manager called police reporting that he was intoxicated and had urinated in the lobby.

Officers found him there unable to walk and took him to a hospital, where a test reportedly showed his blood alcohol content was .31 percent – more than three times the legal limit for driving in Arizona.

The hotel manager declined to press charges, and Sidney was never arrested. The 59-year-old tribal chairman later issued a statement calling the detention a “medical incident” and said he was innocent of any wrongdoing.

The code of conduct calls for public officials to always behave in ways that bring honor to the tribe.

But Sidney said that although he may have violated that code, he didn’t do anything illegal for which he could be constitutionally forced out of office.

“I was waiting on the process for the hearing for violating the code of conduct initially. And it was explained to me and confirmed by the Hopi Tribe’s legal counsel that it appeared that there was no infraction of the law in my incident, which would have (triggered) the constitutional process for removal,” Sidney told The Arizona Daily Sun. “But, however, the incident would qualify under the code of conduct, which does not remove.”

Alcohol is forbidden on Hopi land. Any government official convicted of drunkenness can be automatically removed from office, according to the tribe’s constitution.

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