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Councilors Say Tribal Leader Behind Charges

By Rene Romo
Journal Southern Bureau
    RUIDOSO— Two Mescalero Apache Tribal Council members who faced arrest on extortion charges returned to the reservation over the weekend with allegations of their own— that they were victims of political revenge.
    Council members Michaelene Ahidley and Glenda Brusuelas, in an open letter to tribal members circulated Monday, accused Tribal President Sara Misquez of orchestrating the filing of extortion charges against them Oct. 24 ''in order to punish those she considers to be her political opponents.''
    Misquez, through a spokesman and in a letter to tribal members, denied having anything to do with the charges.
    In her first interview on the subject, Brusuelas denied the accusation that she sought any personal gain in exchange for supporting a controversial $200 million bond issue needed to finish building the new Inn of the Mountain Gods and Casino Apache.
    The warrant issued for Brusuelas cites a conversation she allegedly had with casino host Kenneth Ruthardt, who claims Brusuelas said she ''could use'' her council vote on the financing package as leverage to get her son a promotion at the tribe's new Travel Center and ''maybe a job for her husband.''
    Brusuelas said the conversation was misrepresented. Her attorney, Mark Prelo of Ruidoso, said the warrant does not state Brusuelas specifically asked for anything in exchange for her vote and that the accusation does not constitute a crime.
    The warrant against Ahidley, who was seeking re-election Tuesday, alleges she told the Inn's chief operating officer Michael French she would ''rescind'' her vote for the $200 million bond issue unless the administration held a promised general meeting of tribal members, complete with lunch for Apache attendees.
    French, through tribal spokesman Ed Moreno, denied seeking the complaint against Ahidley.
    Concerning Misquez's alleged involvement, Ahidley and Brusuelas said in their open letter: ''Sara was the only one who had access to this e-mail and is therefore the only one who could have set the wheels in motion for our prosecution. There is no question that our current president is behind these allegations.''
    Brusuelas and Ahidley, who stayed off the reservation last week to avoid arrest, returned to Mescalero over the weekend after Tribal Court issued an order allowing them to remain free until a Nov. 26 hearing.