Monday, April 27, 2020

Federal Judge Blocks Treasury Dept. from Distributing CARES Relief Funds to Alaska Native Corporations

By Levi Rickert - April 27, 2020 at 08:05PM
Breaking News

Published April 28, 2020

WASHINGTON — A federal district court judge ruled today that Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin cannot disburse any of the $8 billion of CARES Act relief funding intended for tribal governments to for-profit Alaska Native Corporations.   

U.S. District Judge Amit P. Mehta 

In a ruling issued this evening, U.S. District Court Judge Amit P. Mehta granted a preliminary injunction to prevent Mnuchin from disbursing any of the Title V funds to any ANC. The ruling is a favorable outcome for 15 tribes, including three from Alaska, that had filed three separate lawsuits to block Mnuchin from distributing funds to the shareholder-owned ANCs.     

While the court enjoined the Treasury Secretary from sending funds to ANCs, Mehta’s ruling did not direct Mnuchin to disburse the entire $8 billion in emergency relief funds to the 574 federally recognized tribes.  

In the ruling, Mehta writes:  “Enjoining the Secretary from disbursing funds to ANCs remedies the immediate harm that Plaintiffs face—the payment of Title V funds to ANCs that will be unrecoverable once made. The added relief that Plaintiffs seek—an order directing the Secretary to distribute the full $8 billion only to federally recognized tribes—is greater than necessary to protect them against that injury. To be sure, the more limited remedy could mean that Plaintiffs will receive a lesser share of Title V funds in the short term, if the Secretary decides to award some money to ANCs and withholds those payments to comply with the court’s order. But at least such funds will remain available for later disbursement to federally recognized tribes for coronavirus-related public services, if the court ultimately enters a final judgment in Plaintiffs’ favor.”

The Department of Treasury indicated last Friday that it would not distribute any of the funds prior to Tuesday, April 28.   

“Federal District Court Judge Mehta made it clear that the Alaska Native Corporations are not considered governments,” Dante Desiderio, executive director of the Native American Finance Officers Association, told Native News Online this evening. “This is a strong and clear win for tribal governments and marks the end of an ill-timed and bold challenge by Alaska corporations for government funds during a pandemic. We are hopeful that tribal and Alaska village governments will receive the much needed funds quickly as was intended by Congress.”

This is a developing story and will be updated.   

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The post Federal Judge Blocks Treasury Dept. from Distributing CARES Relief Funds to Alaska Native Corporations appeared first on Native News Online.

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