Chief of staff, deputy chief resign


President Russell Begaye’s fifth chief of staff in three years has resigned, the president’s office confirmed Wednesday.

Her deputy resigned last Friday.

Navajo Times file photo
Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye answers questions posed to him by members of the 23rd Navajo Nation Council during the summer session in Window Rock.

Clara Pratt, a planning consultant who had formerly headed the tribe’s Washington office, resigned Tuesday.

She said Begaye had asked her to resign, saying he wanted to “move in a different direction.”

Deputy Chief of Staff Joshua Lavar Butler resigned last Friday.

Joshua Lavar Butler

Butler said in an email he wanted to “return full-time to my family and my business.” Butler is CEO of Sandstone Public Relations in Flagstaff.

He said he was not aware of Pratt’s resignation until he heard about it Tuesday.

Pratt said that although Begaye did not mention the “Karis situation” when he asked for her resignation, things had become “strained” between her and the president after his daughter and legal advisor, Karis Begaye, last month wrecked a tribal vehicle in a suspected drunk-driving incident.

“I had drafted a letter to the president and vice president basically saying that, although there was no policy for political appointees with regard to DUIs in tribal vehicles, we should be consistent and she should be subject to the same penalties as other tribal employees,” Pratt recounted. “There was a concurrence line for the president to sign, and he didn’t sign it.”

Coconino County Sheriff’s Office booking photo of Karis Begay on April 22, 2018.

Pratt said Begaye seemed “angry” about the recommendation.

Pratt had been the Begaye administration’s fifth chief of staff, after Robert Joe, Perry Shirley, Eric Descheenie, Arbin Mitchell and Butler.

Begaye issued the following statement: “The office cannot comment on individual employees because personnel matters are confidential. We appreciate the time these employees put into this administration and we wish them success in their future endeavors.”

Pratt in turn said, “Obviously I wish the administration well in their last few months. The division directors are really great and I enjoyed working with them.”

Robert Joe will be acting chief of staff, according to public information officer Alysa Landry.

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Categories: Politics

About Author

Cindy Yurth

Cindy Yurth is the Tséyi' Bureau reporter, covering the Central Agency of the Navajo Nation. Her other beats include agriculture and Arizona state politics. She holds a bachelor’s degree in technical journalism from Colorado State University with a cognate in geology. She has been in the news business since 1980 and with the Navajo Times since 2005, and is the author of “Exploring the Navajo Nation Chapter by Chapter.” She can be reached at