Alaska senator defends Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs

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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Shameful and unacceptable is how Alaska Senator Dan Sullivan is describing what is happening to Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs Tara Sweeney.

During an unrelated Senate hearing Wednesday, Sullivan blamed an unnamed Democratic senator for what he called personal attacks against Sweeney.

While Sullivan did not share that senator's name, Senator Tom Udall of New Mexico has been questioning whether Alaska Native Corporations should be getting tribal stimulus funding and whether Sweeney should have played a role in that decision.

Sweeney is a shareholder and former official with the Arctic Slope Regional Corporation.

[Alaska tribes join lawsuit to block Alaska Native corporations from receiving COVID-19 aid]

Before addressing the business of the Commerce, Science and Transportation hearing, a fired-up Sullivan said, "something that happened over recess is really burning me up. As a U.S senator continues personal attacks on the assistant secretary of Indian Affairs and Alaska Native woman."

The specifics of those comments were not shared, but Sullivan went on to describe Sweeney as, "a woman of impeccable integrity who is doing an amazing job."

KTUU contacted Sweeney's D.C office for an interview, but instead received this written response from the Interior Department, "Assistant Secretary Sweeney is upholding her ethical responsibilities
and complies with all laws and regulations. She relies on the advice of career ethics officials to ensure compliance with applicable statutory and regulatory requirements."

At the request of Lower 48 tribes and some lawmakers, the Inspector General's Office will also be reviewing the way CARES Act funding was distributed to tribes and other native organizations.

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