Southern Ute Indian Tribe says U.S. Treasury Dept. leaked confidential information

The Durango Herald reports:

The Southern Ute Indian Tribe is demanding an investigation into the U.S. Treasury Department after the tribe said the department leaked confidential tribal information given to it as part of an effort to obtain funds under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act.

On Monday, all state, local and tribal governments were instructed to download information into a secure portal at the Department of Treasury so that they could receive their CARES Act funds, according to a news release issued Saturday by Southern Ute Indian Tribe spokeswoman Lindsay Box.

Leaked information about the tribe included tribal membership, lands held in trust and in fee, expenditures, and bank account information, according to the news release.

Read more on The Durango Herald.  The following is the full text of the tribe’s statement on April 18:

Southern Ute Indian Reservation – On March 27, 2020, the President signed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, also known as the CARES Act. This act provided $150 billion for governments, including $8 billion to be allocated among the 574 federally recognized Indian Tribes and Alaska Native Villages The funds were to be distributed within 30 days.

On Monday, April 13, 2020, all state, local and tribal governments were instructed to download information in to a secure portal at the Department of Treasury so that they could receive their CARES Act funds. For Tribes and tribal businesses, the information to be provided included tribal membership, lands held in trust and in fee, expenditures, and bank account information in which the funds were to be deposited. The first portion of the funds were to be deposited in to the Tribe’s bank account within approximately 24 hours of filing the certification.

Although the Southern Ute Indian Tribe filed its certification on Wednesday morning, no funds have been received. To make matters worse, on Friday evening we learned that the information provided to the Department of Treasury by every Tribe in the country had been unlawfully released.

The Southern Ute Indian Tribe has taken steps to make sure that its bank account is secure. But more importantly, the unlawful actions by one or more individuals at the federal government to leak this confidential information must be immediately investigated. We call upon the Department of Justice to immediately do so. The history of relations between the United States and tribal nations is replete with broken promises. The unlawful release of information is evidence that those broken promises by the federal government continue to this day.

Read coverage on Indianz for more detailed coverage of who had access to the leaked data and why they might have had access. Was this an intentional leak for political purposes or was this one of those erosion of privacy in the name of dealing with the pandemic leaks? It’s hard to even guess at this point, but this clearly requires an intensive investigation with transparent results and disclosure.

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