Is the Commissioner of Political Practices Misappropriating State Funds?

by jhwygirl

Boy. What to say about Great Falls Tribune state reporter John S. Adams’ most recent investigative piece exposing misuse of state funds by Dave Gallik, Commissioner of Political Practices?

The evidence is pretty damning – considering it seems that the entire staff of the department is standing by the accusations.

Seems Gallik is utilizing his office to run his private practice, logging pay hours that weren’t worked (over half!) and increasing the contract outsourcing of legal work.

How’s that for stimulating the economy?

The Commissioner position is appointed. It’s a six-year term. During the past legislative session, Governor Brian Schweitzer appointed Jennifer Hensley to head up the empty seat – an appointment that was rejected in the last days of the session (if I recall correctly – feel free to interject) due to objections over Hensley’s political background.

Gallik was then appointed, leaving the post temporarily filled, where Gallik would surely be asked to resign should the chief executive post eventually go to Republicans.

Political shenanigans from both parties aside, it’s a disgrace to see this kind of activity out of the Political Practices Commissioner for multiple reasons – first and foremost for his misappropriation of state tax dollars. In this case – do read Adams’ story – Gallik is not only en flagrante over his use of the office for his own private enterprise, he’s downright self-righteous about his perceived ability to do so.

Further, Gallik is a lawyer. Isn’t this sort of activity an ethics violation by the pithy standards of the Montana State Bar? Gallik is giving all lawyers a bad name, and he’d doing it out of the Office of Poltiical Practices.

(Probably not) finally – We got an election year coming up. Is this the oversight the citizens of Montana are going to have over this upcoming election?

Sad.

I’m guessing with this last story, supermontananreporter John S. Adams won’t have a front seat at Schweitzer’s last State of the State address.

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  1. Turner

    It’s ridiculous that I, as treasurer of Beaverhead County Democrats, have to account for every penny we spend or receive (amounting to a few hundred dollars) when the office I’m accountable to is being run by a crook.

    Given the tons of unaccountable money pouring in to political campaigns, I don’t understand why we even have an office of political practices.

  2. Blasphemy !

    You should not be discussing corrupt Dems, or other Schweitzer appointees unless it’s in a good light !

    • The difference, Eric, is that we are more interested in the truth than partisanship. Care to point out a single post in your illustrious blogging career that has been critical of a Republican elected official?

    • Pete Talbot

      The state attorney general’s office needs to immediately investigate these accusations, perhaps with the help of an independent investigator from outside the political realm. The Office of Political Practices has to be above reproach and if the charges are true, Gallick should resign posthaste.

      As jhwygirl points out, 2012 is going to a huge election year with tons of money being poured into campaigns. This office needs to get its house in order.

      And the Democratic Party doesn’t need this kind of black eye. I’m hoping there won’t be any stonewalling from party leadership.

      I’m also hoping that the Lee state bureau does some additional reporting on this but kudos to Adams for breaking the story.

  3. Mark Miwertz

    Wait a damn minute, commenters. This is surely an issue that transcends partisanship.

    No matter how a lawyer wants to sharpshoot the law, the Commissioner of Political Practices needs to be like Caesar’s wife. But he’s been reproached by his own staff, whose advice he refused, a staff trained and experienced in the very subject.

    Look at how the rest of the state administration ignored the pleas of this staff; how can it be that this multitude of public servants is completely bullied into not just silence but turning their back on this?

    And which papers picked up this story and reported it today?

    The courage it took for this staff to come forward is incredible, given the record of the last seven years. And kudos to John Adams, and to 4&20 and Electric City for taking this issue up. That takes courage and non partisanship. I hope the rest of the state is paying attention and connects the dots on this issue.

  4. I will take my one partisan shot, though. :)

    Back during the PSC War in April, Commissioner Kavulla accused Commissioner Gallagher of doing exactly what Gallik is accused of–in open session, on the record.

    To my knowledge, no one has written about this or investigated it and Commissioner Kavulla has not pursued the issue as chair.

    To pretend that there is only one state official who is mixing personal business with government time would probably be quite naive.

    • Mark Miwertz

      Sure, Pogie. There is a long trail of breadcrumbs of corruption: The Missoula Independent’s story on Walt Schweitzer’s ex officio office of enforcer in the state capitol. The Governor’s own complaint against him and reported attempts to influence the Commissioner’s office. The first appointee’s failure to get even a hearing due to the appearance of blatant political patronage. Now this.

      But I don’t really think it’s a R or D thing, this trail. Bob Raney who was quoted in the Independent story is as liberal as the sun is yellow and the sky blue(funny you should mention the PSC).

  5. If the job paid better, much better, we might get better people, and people who don’t feel the need to moonlight.

    If the accusations hold up, Gallik has to go.

    BTW, nice job of reporting by Adams.

    • Mark Miwertz

      James, you really think so, or would political cronies just get paid more after being appointed by a chief executive whose ethics are already in question?

    • Pete Talbot

      While I tend to agree, James, by Missoula payroll standards, $57+k ain’t chump change. If this job opens up, I’m available.

      • It may not be chump change by Missoula standards, Pete, but I don’t think that’s the standard against which the commish’s ought to be measured. It’s an important position and the salary ought to be commensurate with the responsibility, and with the professional credentials necessary to do the job well. We do get what we pay for. In this case, we didn’t pay for much and we’re not getting much.

        That said, I would not have appointed Gallik — or any other former legislator or office holder. I’d appoint a law school professor, or a judge who was not elected to office in Montana (or anywhere else). Gallik was a horrible choice, and most members of both parties knew it the moment he was appointed.

        If you want the job, Pete, and are willing to be woefully underpaid, go for it — but make sure the fringe benefits include a liberal allowance for Valium, Prozac, and many visits to your shrink.

        • Pete Talbot

          My comment about the pay level was somewhat tongue-in-cheek, James. I actually believe that the whole department is underfunded. Still, the perks you mention — Valium, Prozac, shrinks — along with the state’s very good benefits package, makes the job more attractive than anything I’ve seen in the help wanted ads in the local paper.

          I definitely agree that appointing someone who served in a partisan political office or has ties to political parties is a big mistake (so I suppose that puts me out of the running).

  6. BlackBart

    Considering the mountain of backlog complaints in the Political Practices office and an expected tsunami of new ones this election year, the last thing anyone in that office should be doing is outside work.
    Also, kudos to the staff and to Adams for the reporting.

  7. I have to say that the least compelling part of Gallik’s response was the idea that he was a salaried employee. That being on salary somehow justified only doing enough work to punch the clock on a given day is absurd.

    • Crackpot

      Jhwygirl: You, of all people, should know that virtually all state workers do occasional, small amounts of personal stuff on their computers, phones, etc. And in fact, those small things are exempt from the law, which is something that Adams’ piece didn’t mention.

      What does this piece put forward? A note pad on his desk with notes from his law practice? And a single e-mail to his law office? Face time in the office is also not a prerequisite, as long as hours are logged correctly. Clearly, in his first few weeks, he had logged them incorrectly out of ignorance, and then corrected it.

      Seems like four women who wanted him gone, if you ask me.

      • Pete Talbot

        You think this is a four-woman conspiracy, Crackpot? I suppose that’s possible but I hope there’s a full, independent investigation. Then we’ll know for sure.

      • Paul

        Are you kidding me? I seem to have gotten more from the article than you.

        Gallik repeatedly sent doc­uments and emails back and forth from his law practice to his state email address. Emails between May and August showed regular communication between Gallik and his staff at his private practice on private casework.

        That looks to me like more than a single email.

        Gallik also exchanged emails with his wife, Gail Gallik — an executive assis­tant in the state Department of Commerce — regarding leases and rental agreements for property the couple owns

        There he drags his wife into violating ethics and state laws along with him.

        “He told us he wanted the political-practices staff to work with his private-practice staff,” Trujillo said. “He thought we were just going to conjoin the two offices.”

        That sounds interesting – let the State pay for some of his private practice work.

        Perhaps you need to go back and read the article – I got far more out of it than it just “Seems like four women who wanted him gone, if you ask me.

        • Chuck

          Gallik isn’t the only one running a little side work on his state email account. I’ve seen one from a Montana DEQ employee regarding the rental property the couple own.

  8. Pogue Mahone

    And the e-mails from the women, paul? Phone calls home? Long lunchs? Shooting the breeze while on the job?? Come ON, paul. Where do you work, and on what planet do you live? Crackpot is right. What we got here is NOTEbookgate! Wow. What a story.

  9. Mark Miwertz

    The raging misogyny of a post “four women” want to get rid of him is offensive and obnoxious. If it were “four men” that would be better for you?

    Last time I checked, “four to one”, especially “four very experienced to one newbie” usually does imply significant credibility.

    And this, “it’s just state employees they all barely work” doesn’t cut it for me either.

    It’s not “four women”. It’s his whole staff. You just let your bigoted light shine.

    • Pogue Mahone

      Bigoted??? Why no MEN in that office? Now THAT’S bigotry! And besides, I THINK if you check it out, these women have NOT been there as long as you think! This article REEKS of ulterior motives. Sorry, but that’s the truth for any thoughtful reader.

      • Mark Miwertz

        Your all caps exclamations seem weak minded and silly, but then, so do your comments.

        Since you’ve made the statement, what “ulterior motives” are apparent in John Adams’ article?

        • lizard19

          Mark, it’s really not worth it. most “thoughtful readers” here will realize gender has nothing to do with any of this.

          • Mark Miwertz

            You are right,of course. Thanks. I’m just offended at who is being targeted with these comments.

            • Pogue Mahone

              What ulterior motives? Well, the first thing you learn when investigating a crime is motive. What motive would Gallik have to “steal from the state”? I see none. He’s a successful lawyer. Why would he “steal from the state”? No motive to do so.

              And really, I can’t say what the ulterior motive of these women is. Only they can.

          • I’m glad Mark spoke up. Why does Krajl get a free pass on misogyny? If he blamed it on “the gays” or the “angry black ladies” would it then be wrong? Would a response then be appropriate?

            It’s one thing to troll – it’s another thing to say that kind of crap.

            He’s been pulling this sexist stuff for years. I called him on it during the 2008 democratic primary.

            He continues with this crap because he’s (a) forced himself into forums even when he’s been uninvited and (b) no one calls him on it.

            If Eric or Swede said exactly what he said, I venture to say any number of progressives would call them out on it.

      • Paul

        And besides, I THINK if you check it out, these women have NOT been there as long as you think

        How would you know how long I think they have been there?
        Perhaps the article gives us a clue.

        Baker, who has worked in the commissioner’s office since 2001, said Gallik’s accusations ring hollow.

        “I’ve worked under four commissioners and they’ve all come from political backgrounds. I’ve adapted to all of them,” Baker said. “In order to build trust it takes time and you have to be engaged. Dave is never here.”

        Your lame attempt to discredit those ladies is just that – lame!

        • Paul –

          Couldn’t agree more…a lamer than lame attempt.

          Just curious is any of the commenters here that are trying to discredit the staffers who came forward with this story have ever worked with the Office of Political Practices? I have known every Commissioner since 1984 and most of their staffers, too. In all that time, I was never treated with anything but respect, found them to be extremely helpful with any questions on filing reports, and 100% non-partisan. To even suggest that somehow 4 female state workers have formed an unholy alliance to unjustly smear Gallik is either sheer lunacy or simply the ravings of an extremely uninformed individual.

          • Pogue Mahone

            DAMN! Right you are! It sucks that we all don’t get to choose our boss! I hate when that happens. But seriously, why? Just why? Why now?

            All bosses have different management styles. Folks who have never worked much in the private sector would not understand that.

            Regardless of what their motivations, they had no reason to whine to a newspaper. That just ain’t right. There are indeed ways to handle any problems they see. It’s called chain of command.
            Going over your bosses head to the press is bizarre.

            • Pogue Mahone

              p.s. If you DO decide to go to the press, it DAMN sure better be to save someone’s life! This does not even rise to the level of saving money! (couple of hours logges????)

              Hurt feelings ’cause the boss doesn’t like me make great headlines………for about fifteen seconds. It’s like a formidable fart. At first it’s impressive. But after a couple’a minutes, it’s gone and forgotten! This is nothing but taking literary flatulence with the facts of the case.

              Will it increase the Tribune’s readership? I doubt it.

            • I hear you, my brother: but it makes me wonder if Schweitzer sent Gallik to this office to kill it and if the AG’s office or candidates knew there was merely an apparatchik filling a chair.

            • Pogue Mahone

              I seriously think that this is simply a case where four employees were gonna run the place regardless of what their boss said. Hell, I’ve seen this happen many times before. Some employees been there what they consider to be a long time, and they mistakenly believe that they’re in charge. It becomes a sense of entitlement if you will. And it happens to be wrong.

              Along comes a boss with a different management style, and they go ballistic! Hell, it’s a political appointment ferchrissakes! Instead of just waiting it out until a new boss comes along, they go for the political juglar! Sure it’s ugly, but they don’t much care. They’re bettin’ that they will enhance their standing if we happen to get the Pubbies back in charge!

  10. John Adams

    Don’t feed Larry, er… I mean Pogue… he’s the worst kind of troll, which is why he’s been repeatedly banned from the Tribune’s comment section. Want to see some real misogynistic comments? Check out his comments over on Intelligent Discontent. Guys like him are why I moderate comments on the Lowdown.

  11. Tyler

    Ethics have to come from somewhere. We say that a person has a good “work ethic” if they were raised to work hard or learned the value of hard work growing up. If someone has no moral grounding in a belief of right, wrong, and truth then you cannot expect them to have a set of ethics. And, further, as a nation, as we move farther and father away from any sense of a transcendent moral order (natural law or a sacred understanding of where morality comes from) to a secular understanding of how to conduct life, how do we say what is right or wrong? If everything is relative, then what is right and what is wrong?

  12. Hector

    It seems weird that after taking there complaint to Sweitzer’s office they felt they needed to go the extra step and expose the wrong doing to the press. It really doesn’t seem like their job to make sure their boss is working hard enough. And if he spent to much time with his legal practice that would not make the staff an accessory to unethical behavior. The fact that they were spying on him and taking pictures of his desk and his notes, as well as checking to see if he was still logged into his computer makes me feel like this was a staff vendetta more than unethical behavior.

    • Comments from reporter John S. Adams, left at Don Pogreba’s post on this same subject over at Intelligent Discontent:

      These women made their allegations to the Governor’s chief of staff and the Legislative Audit Division, which, I might add, has a “fraud hotline.” Their complaints were not investigated. They felt if they continued to go about business as usual then they would be complicit in illegal activity. After going to the proper authorities and feeling that they were essentially ignored, they went to the press to expose what they believed were serious ethics violations.

      I’m curious – would it be an ethical violation for a state employee to ignore a fellow employee who “spent too much time with his legal practice” on the dime of the taxpayers?

      • Hector

        I cant get past the part about spying on him and taking pictures and then they called the cops the day the article hits the paper and nobody would tell Galik why. That all sounds a little over the top and Dave had to get out of there. Outside of sexual or physical harassment I’m just not sure what Dave could have been doing that would warrant such a run through the mud.

        It seems that the staff followed the chain of command when reporting the complaint, but when they felt that the appropriate punishment was not handed down they took matters into their own hands. In the private sector you would be fired for that type of behavior. If the staff did not take it upon themselves to spy on their boss then they would only have an opinion on his work ethic, but once they started spying they put themselves in the position to be complicit in illegal activity.

        • Pogue Mahone

          Hector, please don’t confuse people with facts. That’s not very nice.

        • Turner

          In the private sector they would’ve been fired? That’s a good reason we need more public sector jobs. Whistle blowers are harder to punish in these jobs.

          How does uncovering illicit behavior become “compicit in” this behavior?

          • Hector

            complicit if they did nothing. This type of behavior is exactly why we don’t need more public sector jobs. In the private sector you might not like your boss and you very likely feel that he does not work as hard as you. If you dislike his behavior there are proper channels to air your complaint. But after that it is not your concern, if you do not like the punishment that was dealt that does not mean you can undermined the management at your work and smear fellow employees through the mud. That type of insubordination gets a person fired.

            Encouraging disgruntled employees to smear their bosses in the paper is not good business, public or private.

            I think the only way to restore sanity to this office is to hire all new staff. At this point an appointment to that office would be torture and no person in their right mind would want to walk into that office when you know that if you try and manage your staff in any way they don’t agree they wil;l start plotting against you.

  13. Mark Miwertz

    “YOWza! Take a close look at the photo of the accusers in this story. And then ask yourself, would YOU want to work with these people? Only one word comes to mind. NUTcutters!”

    That’s a quote from Larry/Pogue from another liberal blog, not too dissimilar from what he’s expressed here. I am shocked that the guy is allowed to spread that around these sites. I do see it all the time on the cowgirls’ site, but that’s a cesspool, anyway. I don’t expect it to be tolerated at 4&20 or ID.

    It’s amazing what people who are tasked with defending this state administration on the internet are allowed to get away with.
    It looks like “hate speech” to me.

    I’m going to say it, just as John Adams, and even more strenuously than Pete (with whom I rarely agree, but still, wrong is wrong). These are good women in a very bad situation. . How they look in a photo is a complete non-sequitur. Any statement like the ones here or there in a workplace would be construed as ignorant sexual harassment and vigorously sanctioned.

    We all believe that the triumph of evil is accomplished by good people doing nothing. These are good people who are females who have proved they do a good job with numerous bosses in a tough office. They deserve the benefit of their record of accomplishment and public service in our consideration.

    And I am convinced that much of this hate speech is directed not just at them, but at state employees and women state employees in general and specific.

    And yes, I’d be privileged to work with them.

  14. Cece

    Maybe they should have appointed a former independent blogger with a law degree…. :)

    • Hey there blast from the past!

      Send your name up there…Gallik resigned late today according to the Great Falls Trib John S. Adams..

      • Pogue Mahone

        Wow. You can take great pleasure in that, knowing that an individual was tried in the press! Great sense of justice you got there. You must be so proud.

        • Mark Miwertz

          Here’s the thing, as you try to take Rob’s point and run with it; the staff went to all the other options first, and got nowhere. John Adams, who you call to be fired, points that out in his responses and articles.

          Had the “fraud hotline” or other state agencies done anything other than hide under their desk, or the Governor anything other than attack the messenger, Gallik would have had his day using the established procedures.

          Instead the Governor’s internet toadies attack the staff with vicious, bigoted, misogynistic moronic crap, and not just these women, but “you know how those state workers are” all women and state workers in general, maybe even in specific.

          The commissioner of political practices works for the people, not the governor, and it should have been the governor’s first reaction to respond with proper procedures, fair to both sides. He did not. The Audit division or the fraud hotline did not.

          And Gallik’s defenses in the press were as damning as the staff’s accusations themselves.

          It’s the failure of a bullied and cowed state administration, and the bully himself, that left Gallik and the staff to do this in the press.

          • Pogue Mahone

            “I am shocked that the guy is allowed to spread that around these sites. I do see it all the time on the cowgirls’ site, but that’s a cesspool, anyway.”

            Gee, cupcake, the most popular blog BY FAR in the entire state is a “cesspool” according to a scholar like you? How so? And in fact, the blog is read by many throughout the entire country! Who reads you, kitten?

            • Mark Miwertz

              “Who reads you, kitten?”

              Apparently, you do.

            • Pogo Possum

              I am going with Mark on this one……”I do see it all the time on the cowgirls’ site, but that’s a cesspool, anyway. I don’t expect it to be tolerated at 4&20 or ID.” Like soap operas and demolition derbys, just because its popular doesn’t mean it offers much more than fake drama and car crashes.

              The cowgirls spit out intentional half truths and distortions on a regular basis and they often fail to address any issue that doesn’t promote their own employer. The entire Montana blogosphere is discussing Gallik and the CPP but the cowgirls have nada on it except for a link to Intelligent Discontent after being prodded by Dave Skinner.

              When it comes down to professionalism, integrity and credibility, I will pick jhwyGirl over the cowgirls everytime.

  15. Matthew Koehler

    The following comment was posted by reporter John Adams over at ID. I’m posting it here because it responds directly to some of the questions and rumors here. Thanks. – mk

    John Adams · 2 hours ago
    I answer some of your questions in my story today, Don:
    http://www.greatfallstribune.com/article/20120118/NEWS01/201180304/Montana-s-Commissioner-Political-Practices-resigns?odyssey=tab|topnews|text|Frontpage

    The women said they did not call the police, but reported to the Capitol security that things were “tense” in the office and they wanted to give them a “heads up” in case anything did happen. They didn’t file a report. They didn’t make a complaint. They said Gallik’s temper has been increasing short in the past few months/weeks that Tuesday was the first day back in the office since the story ran on Sunday, and they wanted to let them know in case they did have reason to call later.

    As for the computer question: Gallik enlisted the help of some of the staff to help him with his computer last summer, the staff told me. That’s when they first saw the private work e-mails. After that, Gallik consistently left his computer on. It’s a small office. Once they knew he was doing private work in his office, and was gone for long periods of time, they began to document his misuse of state resources. They also logged what time he came in and out of the office every day.

    As for their hiring of a lawyer…any state employee who felt their job would be at risk from retaliation for blowing the whistle on what they believed was unethical and illegal behavior would be wise to seek legal counsel. To suggest this is a conspiracy is to ignore the facts. Find me an elected Democrat or campaign treasurer, lobbyist or anyone else who has ever dealt with that office who will tell you these staff are in cahoot with the GOP. Because I’ve been looking and I haven’t found one.

    Believe it or not, I do vet facts before I go to press. I do research on sources before I report on their claims. That’s my job. I had no reason to not believe the information that these staffer told me was true. The documentation was solid. The facts lined up. Thus I reported them.

    Nobody seemed to think I was a Tea Party tool back when I broke the story about Tim Ravndal’s facebook comments alluding to the death of Matthew Shepard. In fact, Mr. Kralj e-mailed me and very cordially commended me on my great reporting. But now I’m a hack for the Republicans and the Tea Party? Please…

    I know responding here is an exercise in futility as far as Larry is concerned, but for anyone else reading this comment, I hope you see that I’m trying to answer some of the questions you have about my reporting on this story. If you log on to the Tribune’s website and comment there I’ll answer further questions if I can. It makes more sense to keep all the information in one place.

    This is my last post on the subject at ID.

  16. Matthew Koehler

    Reporter John Adams answers some of the questions, and rumors, that have been posted here over at ID.

    http://intelligentdiscontent.com/2012/01/17/gallik-resigns-as-story-gets-stranger/#idc-cover

  17. I’ve just uploaded a couple of posts on the subject at http://www.flatheadmemo.com.




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