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Mr. STEENERSON. By a majority of whoever attended the council.
Mr. STEENERSON. If you had good politicians and they were after the business and understood it and had money enough to travel, all that could be done, but I have watched this thing ever since I first began to study it.
Mr. ROACH. Has it ever been called to the attention of the Interior Department that this council has been unfaithful?
Mr. STEENERSON. Yes; and Mr. Burke has said he refuses to recognize any council, either full-blood or half-breed.
The CHAIRMAN. That is only very recently.
Mr. STEENERSON. Since Mr. Burke came in. Mr. Burke was formerly a member of this committee and familiar with Indian affairs.
The CHAIRMAN. Mr. Steenerson, I regret the time for our recess has gone by and it is now 12.32, and it is unanimous-consent day, and I think we will have to recess until to-morrow at 10.30.
Mr. STEENERSON. I would like to add just one word here before I forget it. There are only three Congressmen from Minnesota who represent the territory where the White Earth Indians live. Those are Mr. Larson, of Duluth; Mr. Knutson, of St. Cloud; and myself. We have considered this together a great many times.
This bill is introduced by a man who lives hundreds of miles away from any of these Indians. He can have no interest in it. My constituents are vitally interested, because we expect when this money is divided up, as proposed by the general council, that the counties will have to support them. That is the interest we have in it, and I do not know that the author of this bill has any interest whatever in it.
Mr. JOHNSON. Do the three Members of Congress who represent the section of the State where the Indians live all oppose this bill?
Mr. STEENERSON. I am so informed. I saw Mr. Knutson yesterday and he said he would come here, and Mr. Larson was with me.
The CHAIRMAN. I will say for the benefit of the members of the committee that this hearing is being held for the purpose of determining whether there is anything justifiable in this claim, and, further, to establish a policy as to whether or not the committee will hereafter listen to claims of this kind. That is why we are going into the matter so very deeply.
Mr. STEENERSON. It is very important.
The CHAIRMAN. And we will be glad to hear the two other Members of Congress from that section of the State if they desire to be heard. I have notified Mr. Knutson, but not Mr. Larson, and asked Mr. Knutson to come here.
We will recess until 10.30 Wednesday morning.
(Whereupon, at 12.35 o'clock p. m., the committee recessed until Wednesday, January 18, 1922, at 10.30 o'clock a. m.)
COMMITTEE ON INDIAN AFFAIRS,
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
Wednesday, January 18, 1922. The committee this day met ,Hon. Homer P. Snyder (chairman) president.
The CHAIRMAN. This being a recess proposition, we will proceed with the hearing and await developments.
Mr. Steenerson, you may proceed.
STATEMENT OF HON. HALVOR STEENERSON, A REPRESENTATIVE
IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF MINNESOTA.
Mr. STEENERSON. Mr. Chairman and gentlemen of the committee, there was some discussion about the language of the bill before you, and I have looked it over carefully and have come to the conclusion that I can not agree with Mr. Meritt in his interpretation. The bill provides :
* That the Secretary of the Treasury be, and he is hereby, authorized and directed to pay out of the funds of the Chippewa Indians of Minnesota now held in the Treasury of the United States all expenses of the general council of said tribe incurred in all litigation and proceedings instituted by direction of said general council ”— He is directed to pay them
“ for the benefit of said tribe up to and including July 1, 1921, said accounts to be first approved by the president and secretary of said general council ”—
That is, the payee of this appropriation; that is the one who gets the money ; he certifies to his own accounts" and certified to the Secretary of the Interior for approval, and when approvei by him to be paid ; and the sum of $21,500"
I believe the comptroller would hardly be justified in holding that the Secretary of the Interior was authorized to audit these expenses. This act provides for a self-auditing procedure. The beneficiary of the appropriation is the general council, and the officers of the general council are to pass on it and have got to certify, but it does not say just what the certificate shall be, except that it shall be approved by the general council. “When approved by the Secretary "—that would mean, to my notion, that it was in the form contemplated by the statute, that it is approved and certified by the general council and officers; but he would not be justified in going behind the certificate of the general council. I claim that is the proper interpretation of this act, the same as the case to which Mr. Meritt referred as an analogous subject. There is another thing that I would call to the attention of the committee and that is the language of the appropriation act for the fiscal year 1919; I think that is the next to the last year.
The CHAIRMAN. Two years-1920 and 1921.
Mr. STEENERSON. These are fiscal years. It should be borne in mind that a fiscal year commences six months before the calendar year begins and it ends on the 1st of July. This is for the fiscal year 1919, June 30, 1919. That is the title of the act. That would go back to July 1, 1918, and would include the 1st of July, 1919. That is, the fiscal year takes its name from the year in which the fiscal year ends. The clause making the appropriation for the general council reads:
“ That the sum of $10,000 or so much thereof as may be necessary, of the tribal funds of the Chippewa Indians of the State of Minnesota, is hereby appropriated to pay the expenses of the general council of said tribe to be held at Bemidji, Minn., beginning July 9, 1918, pursuant to the constitution of the general council of said Chippewa Indians of Minnesota, organized in May, 1913, and to pay the expenses of said general council in looking after the affairs of said tribe, including the actual and necessary expenses of its legislative committee in visiting Washington during the second sesson of the Sixty-fifth Congress, said sum to be immediately available, and said actual and necessary expenses to be approved by the president and secretary of the general council and certified to the Secretary of the Interior and as so approved and certified to be paid.”
That is substantially the same language as in all of the appropriation acts. There is one peculiar thing about it. Here is this statement of the payments pursuant to different appropriation acts. Now, you will observe that the act appropriates money and says that it is for the general council expenses and the itemized bill, about half of it, relates to the expenses of delegates to Bemidji, Minn. There are the hotel bills of all the members and then I find this item,“ Webster Ballinger, legal services, $2,830.33.” I want to point out that it seems to me that an appropriation for the expenses of the general council does not include the attorney fees. They could not certainly spend that much money going up there.
Mr. Roach. What is the date of the last item, $2.830.33?
Mr. STEENERSON. That item is headed “ Statement of expenditures from the sum of $10,000 appropriated from the Chippewa tribal funds by the Indian act approved June 30, 1919 (Public No. 3, p. 13), for 1920 on account of councils, delegations, etc., to December 15, 1919."
That is the statement in the account that they sent to their own council and to the Secretary of the Interior. The following is a detailed statement of the particular items of $2,830.33 :
DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR,
OFFICE OF INDIAN AFFAIRS,
Washington, January 23, 1922. Hon. H. STEENERSON,
House of Representatives, Washington. MY DEAR MR. STEENERSON : In response to your letter of January 18, 1922, I have the honor to transmit herewith copy of statements submitted to this
office by Mr. Webster Ballinger, covering professional services and other expenses aggregating $2,830.23, paid from the tribal funds of the Chippewa Indians of Minnesota, under claim No. 320749. Sincerely, yours,
CHARLES H. BURKE, Commissioner.
(to be paid out of the $10,000 item contained in the act approved
the Chippewa General Council during the third session of the
Expenses of trip to attend meeting of the general council held at
Cass Lake, Minn., commencing July 8, 1919, and inspecting
Transportation from Washington, D. C., to Bemidji, Minn---
45. 94 4. 86 2. 16 45. 94 2. 16 2. 16 4. 86 14.50 9. 95 8. 00 20.00
JULY 5, 1919. The Chippewa Indians of Minnesota, to Webster Ballinger, debtor (to
be paid out of the $10,000 item contained in the act approved June 30,
3. 50 Feb. 21, 1919, Kent & Pilson, stenographic and typewriting---- 11. 50 Mar. 15, 1919, A. McCoy Hanson, stenographic and typewriting- 150.00 Dec. 17 (2) and Dec. 20, 1918, telegrams.
2. 95 May 11, 1918, telegram.
170. 60 If you examine closely the appropriation you will find that the expenditure was never authorized, because it is not within the description of the items which they claim, and I think the same thing may be said as to all of these items for these years from 1916 to 1920, those five years—if you examine the appropriation acts.
Mr. JEFFERIS. Was all of the $10.000 used in 1919?
Mr. STEENERSON. In the fiscal year. Some of it, of course, would begin in 1918.
Mr. JEFFERIS. I understand.
The CHAIRMAN. What you are attempting to show is that the language in the appropriation act did not permit the payment to the council ; is that the point?
Mr. STEENERSON. Yes, sir. It does authorize payment for legal services. When the general council certified it to the Secretary of the Interior or the Indian Office they certified something that was not authorized by law. They have paid for something that Congress never appropriated for, and I think it could be recovered by an action on the part of the United States for the benefit of the Indians. In some cases they get appropriations for counsel fees, but not in this manner. How can you liberalize the language of the act so as to include counsel fees when they enumerate the other items specifically? The inclusion of one excludes the other under the rule of construction of statutes.
There is another thing that I do not need to point out, because you can find it by reference. I want to make this point in addition to the other, that this appropriation, from 1915, was an appropriation “ for the expenses of the general council.” If they had left it out, of course, legal expenses would be included, even if not specified, but we had paid some of these annual bills; I think most of them were in the annual appropriation bills. This appropriation simply said “ for the fiscal year” mentioned, and we afterward paid them. For instance, in 1919, for the fiscal year 1918, they presented their bill, which, I think, covered almost the whole appropriation, and it was paid. By what reason can they now bring in a bill for covering all prior years? They also presented the bill within the appropriation, whether it included counsel fees or anything else—a very important point about the expenditure, when rendering an annual bill of expense, and which is paid, unless there is a distinct understanding otherwise, that pays the bill up to date. The last bill presented and paid was for the fiscal year 1921.
Mr. JEFFERIS. That is July 1, 1921 ?
Mr. STEENERSON. Yes, sir. When you paid that, there is no authority to go back and pay for the years you have already paid.
A further point that I want to make is that I did not hear all of Mr. Ballinger's recital. I want to say that he is a very industrious man and I have no personal animosity toward him. I listened to him as long as I could while I was here, and I can not understand how he can claim anything for the fiscal years prior to 1921.
The appropriation act for the fiscal year 1919, approved May 25, 1918, appropriated $10,000,“ or so much thereof as may be necessary,” to pay the expenses of the general council and the expenses of said general council in looking after the affairs of said tribe, including the actual necessary expenses of the legislative committee in visiting Washington during the second session of the Sixtyfifth Congress. The itemized bill for this amounted to $9,929.30, so that there was $69.70 left. The claim was therefore paid in full. It was for the Sixtyfifth Congress, second session. No further claim can be recognized for this session.
Mr. Roach. If you will pardon me, he claimed in that connection that the amounts paid to him were only credits on his account.
Mr. STEENERSON. I did not hear him say that. I do not think that is just right. If you will examine the photostatic copies of account, there was no mention of credit; it was for the bills, and therefore when paid they are paid. So far as I can understand, the only right and justifiable claim before the committee would be for the actual work done since the fiscal year 1921 instead of for prior years. He and the council he represents have received from 1915 down to date thirty-four thousand and some odd dollars, a large sum.
Mr. Roach. Mr. Ballinger reports $9,000 and Mr. Meritt reports something over $10,000.
The CHAIRMAN. Anyhow, it is in the record.
Mr. STEENERSON. If you will examine these photostatic copies it can be ascertained. I have summarized them in a statement.
Mr. LEATHERWOOD. Is it your contention you have referred to accounts, accounts stated technically?
Mr. STEENERSON. Yes, sir. It seems to me you could not bring in a bill approved for the expenses for a fiscal year and get paid and then come in and say that was not all. I have been connected with the Postal Service for 19 years, I have had charge of the large appropriations, which we examined in detail, and nobody would ever think of coming in with a bill covering the same period for which an appropriation has been made and once paid
Mr. Roach (interposing). Has Mr. Ballinger ever rendered a bill, or has he just accepted payment without rendering any bill?
Mr. STEENERSON. This comes from the bureau. I suppose these items are all enumerated here.
Mr. Roach. Does it show the disposition of the general appropriation? It does not show any bills rendered at all.
Mr. STEENERSON. I am simply making a statement and I will leave it to your wisdom.
Mr. Roach. I just wanted to find out if the bill has been rendered.
Mr. STEENERSON. This is a statement of expenditures for the sum of $6,000 appropriated by the act approved May 18, 1916, from the Chippewa tribal funds for the council and delegates, expenses for the fiscal years 1915, 1916, and 1917. Here are the items: “ National Hotel, Gus H. Beaulieu, lodging, etc., $11.25"; then, “ Gus H. Beaulieu, traveling expenses, $283.61 ; William Madison, traveling expenses ” —that is ditto- “$32.80.” Then there are a whole lot of traveling expenses, giving the different names, running from $3.60 to $30, and, down to the last item in the footing, each one is minutely specified, “ This has been paid."
The CHAIRMAN. If you will pardon me, Mr. Steenerson, Mr. Ballinger, if he were working for anyone, was working for the council, and is it not possible that the council paid him from year to year what it could spare out of this appropriation?
Mr. STEENERSON. Oh, I do not think so.
The CHAIRMAN. Is it your contention that when Mr. Ballinger was paid a certain amount out of an appropriation that that was all the council had agreed to pay him for that year?
Mr. STEENERSON. I do not know anything about that, but I do say that when the council, through their legislative agent, asked for an appropriation of $6,000 or $10,000 to reimburse them for expenses for the fiscal year and Congress passed it and it was paid, that they could not afterwards come in and bring in another bill for the same fiscal year.
The CHAIRMAN. I think that is a good point. I think that is the best point that has been made in the argument so far on the question.
Mr. STEENERSON. I thank you.
The CHAIRMAN. I think you have pointed out rather a salient point, but I still maintain that if Mr. Ballinger was working for the council he may still have a fair claim against it for services that have not been settled, up to this time. Whether it is due to him in what he reports, is another story.
Mr. STEENERSON. The burden of the other side would be to show such a thing. Calling attention to a fact which all business men know, when you appropriate a sum to pay for the expenses of the year and that money is paid, you can not afterwards go up and charge it over. What Mr. Ballinger has shown here since the fiscal year 1921 expired, I do not know. It does not seem to me it could amount to very much. I do not remember what he said about it. I do not think I was here when he reached that period.
The CHAIRMAN. My understanding is that the bill presented here covers Ballinger's services in this connection since 1918 down to a certain date in 1921.
Mr. BALLINGER. Since 1914.
The CHAIRMAN. Since 1914. Such payments as he has had, according to his understanding, have been simply on account.
Mr. STEENERSON. He has not said that, as far as I know. If the committee wants to put that interpretation on it, I can not agree.
The CHAIRMAN. I do not say that the committee desires to place that interpretation on it. That is the information I have gathered from the testimony I have heard.
Mr. STEENERSON. If I present a bill for services and Congress appropriates a certain sum for the payment of that claim, it is paid ; that is the end of the story, so far as the law of bu ess goes. However, there is here another point that I make, that the appropriation bill for this last year-I want to read it because it relates to this—this is for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1919
Mr. JEFFERIS. Is not that the same one that you read before?
"That the sum of $10,000, or so much thereof as may be necessary, of the tribal funds of the Chippewa Indians of the State of Minnesota is hereby appropriated to pay the expenses of the general council of said tribe to be held at Bemidji, Minn., beginning July 9, 1918, pursuant to the constitution of the