YAKIMA – Two former Yakama Nation officials say they were fired for questioning how the tribe spends state and federal funds on social programs and whether some of the money was unfairly benefiting employees and their family members.
Robert Ramirez, the tribe’s former deputy director who oversaw social services, said he documented a pattern of favoritism over many years in which people working in a program designed to serve children in foster care awarded themselves and family members state-provided dollars.
Ramirez’s supervisor, former tribal director Colleen Reimer – who oversaw all tribal programs – said she saw similar misspending in senior and scholarship programs.
Ramirez, who is not a tribal member, was hired in August 2011 and fired when his position was eliminated in March. Reimer, a member of the tribe, was hired in February 2011 and said she was fired without reason in January.
A tribal leader said the tribe investigated the complaints but found nothing amiss.
A regional administrator for the state Department of Social and Health Services said an investigation has been launched.