Just Who Oversees the Montana Commissioner of Political Practices?

by jhwygirl

Dave Gallik’s resignation as Commissioner of Political Practices was quick and fast – Great Falls Tribune reporter John S. Adams continues the scandal story this morning with news of events at the Capitol yesterday, which include Gallik repeatedly stating that the staff had called the police on him, despite that apparently not being true.

I have to say, to me, it almost comes off as him making light of the situation as he walked off to the Governor’s Mansion to discuss his resignation.

What is disturbing in Adams’ story is not the soap-opera scene (which the public seems to need as blame is apparently cast on vengeful women), but the apparent lack of any oversight on the Commissioner of Political Practices. Or the lack of anyone willing to step up. Adams goes through the three offices that the office staff apparently reported their allegations to:

Two staff members from the commissioner’s office told the Tribune they raised detailed concerns about Gallik’s behavior with Gov. Brian Schweitzer’s office and the Legislative Audit Division. They said they also reached out to Attorney General Steve Bullock’s office, but were told by an attorney who works on political practices complaints that the matter did not fall within the attorney general’s jurisdiction.

So they went to the three most logical choices and all three failed to address the situation? And right now the State Administration and Veterans Affairs Interim Committee is trying to determine who has the authority to oversee the office?

Don’t you think Montana should of had these things figured out? There’s so much to say about what is wrong with what Adams’ lays out in his article, I don’t know where to begin. Luckily, I’m tired as it’s been a long day and tomorrow’s another. I do love winter.

It’s easy to get caught up in all the soap opera scene of this situation. It’s also pretty childish to immediately start a defense by making accusations of political motivations against Adams. Given his history for accuracy, quite frankly, it be best for most of the parties involved that this die a quick death.

It’s a sad state of affairs when rather than address the issues of oversight of the chief political oversight office in this state, we’re more concerned with the motivations behind the whistleblowers who attempted to seek compliance with what is – afterall – state law.

When accusations are thrown against a reporter when none of the facts have been called into question.

And guess what? With some oversight of the office, Dave Gallik might have still been in office today. Had any one of the three offices that the office staff contacted with their allegations had then contacted Gallik and reminded him of state policies, he might have taken a different path.

One nagging question I have? Was Gallik told that he could do his private practice and rental property work from his state office? I’m guessing SAVA will eventually figure that out?


A number of people around the Montana blogosphere have also written this story up. Don Pogreba has a couple of posts now (I actually missed his first post), and here is Don’s piece on Gallik’s resignation.

James Conner – who, really, all of you should be reading – has two posts up, one on Improving Montana’s commission on political practices and another The Political Practices mess.

Jack the Blogger also kicks in with his analysis of the mess of the office, first having called on Gallik to resign, and today with his assessment of the ineffective mess that is the Office Of Political Practices.

ALSO, Gregg Smith over at Electric City Weblog had this analysis of the situation and how it correlates with past allegations by the GOP. He also has a quick take on the resignation that undoubtedly has some truth to it, even though he admits it to being entirely speculatory.

Finally, Montana Watchdog, a conservative newsource for state politics, has a few posts also. Here’s Phil Drake’s piece on Gallik’s resignation.

  1. Hector

    It seems to me the Gov did address the situation, just his response was not viewed as satisfactory by the staff. At the end of they day it is not the staff’s responsibility to assure that justice is served exactly the way they want it.
    According to today’s paper the staff did call the cops for fear of verbal abuse, as the facts keep coming out it seems like this was some serious staff mutiny. The only way I can see repairing this mess is to clear out that office and start with new staff. Maybe let the new PPC hire his own staff so she can put together a team she can trust.

    • Paul

      Why would you punish long time staff for the boss being inept? If you “clean out” the staff, then no one has the knowledge to do the job. Not a good idea, IMO.

    • JC

      Clear out the staff? Sounds like a major civil lawsuit waiting to happen. You serious about taking on that liability?

    • Hector

      Reassign them to other departments with comparable pay. that’s not a lawsuit, it happens all the time. But since the long time staff are obviously part of the problem I think the only way to fix the problem is hire new qualified people. Besides if I remember correctly the republicans wanted Mary Baker appointed to PPC and now she seems to be capt’n of the mutiny. It’s a know fact that Mary is a staunch republican. The political motivations are becoming clear.

      • Political practices needs to be reorganized, but that will require legislative approval. In the meantime, CPP needs to discharge its statutory obligations. That requires keeping the staff in place, at least for the present.

        We need to know more about what went wrong before we start firing and hiring staff. Unfortunately, the staff have lawyered-up and probably will stop talking.

      • JC

        Retaliation (like reassignments) against whistleblowers is illegal in the U.S. and in Montana. Really want to go there with your argument? Here, go read up on it:


        Then come back and try again.

        • Hector

          They can go to court and claim retaliation, which they will be doing no matter what happens next. Let em sue and try to soak up some of that tax payer money they were so worried about. Just reading the Low Down there are several areas were staff flat out refused to do the duties assigned by their boss and in the end completely undermined the integrity of the whole office.

          I think Mrs. Baker is just as guilty in this situation and when they are offered another job with the same pay and benefits she can fight it in court. She would have to prove that it was retaliation and I think the state has a laundry list of reasons she should be fired.

          I would be more forgiving of Mrs. Baker if i did not already know she is a hardcore republican who felt like she deserved Dave’s job.

          • Pogo Possum

            In cased you missed it Hector……….Gallik is a hard core Democrat.

            • Hector

              That would matter if Dave had political and personal motivation to take Mrs. Bakers job. But it’s the other way around.

              • Pogue Mahone

                I tol’ you before, amigo, do NOT confuse people with facts!

              • Pogo Possum

                Nice spin Hector but your theory still doesn’t fly.

                If Mary Baker was the only person putting her neck on the line to call attention to this matter and had only worked with Republican Commissioners that would be different. But we both know that isn’t what we have here.

                Baker has worked in the PPC since 2001 and reported to both Democratic and Republican Commissioners. The other three women have also worked for Republicans and Democrats. Out of all those years and all those different Commissioners of different political stripes and personalities, this is the only time any of them have lodged official complaints against their boss. They only went public after three state agencies ignored their complaints.

                This whole mess ultimately falls in Schweitzer’s lap.

  2. Mark Miwertz

    “This whole mess ultimately falls in Schweitzer’s lap.”

    That is exactly right. He’s the guy who said it’s okay to do private business on state time, and defended it, and it’s his pathetic minions running around bad mouthing the “nutcutters” (a description agreed to by two self professed and well known democrat bloggers) or “state employees who never really do a day’s work anyway”, as was implied by another. .

    The minions are as stupid and bigoted as Tim Ravndal.

    Then the guns are rolled out against John Adams, who it’s said has an agenda, is a tea bagger, is trying the poor attorney in the press, whatever red herring distraction from the issue they can come up with.

    Minion Hector’s little asides are just that much more damage control.

    Everybody hanging around the internet knows what’s going on.

    • Which well-known Democratic bloggers agreed with sexist language?

      It’d be great if you could make an argument that bore some resemblance to the truth.

      • Mark Miwertz

        Larry’s one. He’s on your website more than you are, with a bigger word count. Let’s start there.

        BTW, I read your post about republican nominations. “The other side does it too” is a pathetic attempt at changing the subject. The malfeasance in office, the condoning of that, the lack of official response, that led to an article by a respected reporter who also complained about commenters on your site. Have you no self respect?

        And your calling me a liar is beneath contemptible, but so typical of YOU, Mr, “I’m a Democrat, so anything I do or say is justified”. It’s good to know many democrats who don’t share your lack of moral compass. You assert to Craig that any means to your goal is justified, You might take some time to read up on that.

        • Pogue Mahone

          I’m with you on this one. Free speech SUKS! Problem is, thought, that this IS a state office. Hence, it IS relevant to all of us. And some of us don’t LIKE this thing being tried in the press. So, I put in a change of venue. I MOVED the trial to the court of public opinion, the blogosphere! Sorry that you don’t like that. Very sorry.

        • Pogue Mahone

          p.s Just WHAT was the “malfeasance”? In detail please.

        • Pogue Mahone

          p.s.s And I SERIOUSLY doubt that Larry is a blogger.
          Commenter yes, but where is his blog? Please do try
          to be more correct in the future.

        • Larry’s a blogger now? News to me.

          I’d sure hate to think that a site would be judged by every single idiotic comment.

          Get what I mean?

          • Mark Miwertz

            I do see what you’re saying. And I’m not judging your site by a couple of frequent, okay, “commenters” (my lack of internet sophistication is showing), but you’ll notice that Larry/Pogue is challenged here by the people who “blog” on this site?

            But in addition to Larry, you did check out the cowgirls’ site pounding away at the women in the office. Surely they are “bloggers”?

            I’d work with these women in a heartbeat. How they look, in the picture or otherwise, is a huge topic on your site, on the cowgirls’ site, and it’s not something you’d condone if right wingers were talking about big butts in the white house, is it? You justify this to Craig by saying, “I’m a Democrat”. That doesn’t cut it and you know it.

            Anyway, I’d work with these women. I admire their courage. The attacks on them are atrocious and unjustified, and they are not just aimed at them, but at all women who work for the state.

            So I got a little pissed off at the “dishonest argument” comment and I apologize for being so personal at you. The dishonesty here is the attack on the staff’s appearance and the attempt to deflect the discussion to that, or their supposed motives, or John Adams supposed motives, or that “the other guys do it too”. I know the other guys do it too.

            But if both sides do it, it’s just pot calling kettle black. I think we can try for better than that. Claiming that anything goes as long as it’s for the party is just plain wrong.

            • Here’s what frustrates me and why I responded the way I did. I absolutely do not accept/tolerate/promote sexism in my personal or professional life. I took the time to wade through what, to be honest, was a sea of incomprehensible nonsense to try to ferret out sexist remarks and edit them.

              I resented the implication that I was a part of that.Even in this comment, you’re suggesting that I am condoning these remarks. That’s entirely unfair. If I’ve missed specific comments that I should have moderated, I’ve even added the ability for people to report comments that are offensive. Let me know and I will look at it.

              I do have some questions about this story–none of which have anything to do with the sex of the state workers involved in the dispute.

              My sense of what happened is that it’s somewhere between what the OPP staff alleged and what Mr. Gallik claims. The fact that there are still conflicting press accounts of some of the details, for instance, troubles me.

              And I do think Republicans bear some responsibility, in their refusal to treat the process seriously. They nominated joke candidates in the first round, rejected a qualified woman candidate in the second round, and now they’re braying about the integrity of the office and attacking the system?

              It’s rank hypocrisy.

              So, I think we can disagree about whether or not it’s fair to look at the Republican officials who helped create this mess, but I’d really appreciate it if you’d be willing to acknowledge that I am not engaging in nor condoning sexism.

              I’d appreciate that.

              • Mark Miwertz

                “Seriously now, this APPEARS to be all the world simply a case of some ladies who do NOT like the fact that they have a BOSS! (male boss at that) They have been state workers for just a wee bit to long, and appear to have gone native! They don’t LIKE taking orders any more! Happens all the time!”

                Well, “some ladies” who do not like they have a “male boss” who are ‘state workers” for “too long” and have “gone native”. “Happens all the time”.

                Every bit of which is offensive, and every bit of which you’ve left on your site all week. If you don’t condone it, you have a funny way of showing it. You’ve left it up, and haven’t argued against it.

                Perhaps your rethink who you allow to dominate your website?

            • I can’t reply to the last comment, so I’ll leave it here.

              Seriously? Your standard is that I condone every remark on my site that I don’t personally respond to or edit?

              Did you respond to it over there, or did you scurry back here to try to score in a points in this debate? Given your apparent passion for fighting injustice, one would assume that you’d have responded. That’s the standard, right? I mean, you saw blatant sexism and let it go because arguing with me was more important.

              • Mark Miwertz

                I would work with those ladies anytime. State workers are a frequent target of this administration, but I’m here to say that for the most part they’re the equal of any worker in the private sector. I would feel confident of this staff, walking into this job and making this office work for the public and for candidates.

                I also don’t doubt, not for a minute, their dedication to better campaign reporting. I don’t think for a second that they’re nasty nutcutting old harridans who nobody wants to work with and who don’t like computers. But that seems to be the drumbeat.

                I’d like to hear from some of the candidates or elected officials who read this, who post here, who have run campaigns and have had to work with this office. I’d guess their experience with the Office of Political Practices has been positive, helpful, courteous, and their issues dealt with using knowledge and skill.

                Their behavior, and John Adams behavior, has been far better and more open and honest than the people criticizing them or “speculating”.

              • Pogue Mahone

                Uh huh. WUSSY bedwetter debater! HEY, that’s OK, marky. It’s better for guys like you to play in the minor leagues. Oh excuse me. I meant T-BALL! Come on over to Pogie’s site and see how well you fair.

              • lizard19

                Pogue, your mudslinging is incredibly ineffectual. the extent of your “debating” skills is the CAPS key. go plague the cowgirl with your antics. “she” has a better playground for your schoolyard bullying bullshit.

              • Larry? Please leave the comment portion of this entire blog. We’ve had this discussion before. What it comes to is that the general consensus in this chat room/blog/etc. is that you are not someone with whom we want to engage.

                You are a misogynist. You pick fights. You YELL WAY TOO MUCH.

                I’ve asked you nicely – and I’m trying to say this as nicely as possible. Consider this a request in the sense of someone asking you to leave their property. Do you choose to stand in trespass or do you turn and leave?

                I’m not telling you to leave the internet – or even the Montana blogosphere. I’m just asking you to stay off the lawn that I and fellow bloggers/readers/commenters (we are all one community, I believe) weed and seed and feed and mow.

                I wish you the best. I know you’ve stood for things that I believe and feel strongly about. My request does not cheapen that. You and I may agree about some things, but there are other things that simply make me the type of person that would have to avoid you in real life.

                Feel free to email me anything you have to say. My email contact is over there on the left.


        • I have to love the person talking about ethics putting quotes around something that I never said.

          Maybe some day you’ll learn how to have a real argument, with evidence and logic.

          As for me? I’m not going to judge this site by the quality of this person who comments here. That seems like a fair standard.

      • Matthew Koehler

        While no official left-leaning blogger has used the type of sexist language to the extent that Larry K has, I do feel as if there has been an undercurrent of this type of behavior over at the Cowgirl blog, which is sort of ironic since in the past the Cowgirl has pulled out the sexist card on various commenters.

        I have to wonder how these four whistle-blowers, and this entire story, would have been treated if the allegations were against a former Republican legislator who was a GOP-appointed Commissioner of Political Practices.

        If that would have been the case, would these four whistle-blowers have been treated as heroes? Would Cowgirl have spent time dissecting the photo of the whistle-blowers, focusing attention on their appearance?

        “the photo of the four women, glaring out at readers in a marinade of rage, with a dash satisfaction, several of their faces exhibiting a barely detectable yet unmistakable smirk.”

        “A new commissioner will eventually arrive, and will have the pleasure of dealing with these cheery-looking folk.”

        Would these four whistle-blowers be referred to as “gals,” which in this context seems to be a sort of put-down.

        “the attorney retained by these gals”….”Gallik seems to be saying that these gals were were resisting a modernization of an operation”

        Would Cowgirl have made an issue out of the fact that these four whistle-blowers alerted the Capital security? (By the way, not the Police, as Cowgirl claims.)

        “I’d say the call to the cops was frivolous, and maybe worse.”

        I have to believe that when Cowgirl wrote that they were aware of John Adams’ post over at ID in which he provided more background information, including this info about Capitol security being alerted:

        “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.”

        Again, if these four whistle-blowers would have given Capitol security a heads up about a GOP-appointed Commissioner of Political Practices would Cowgirl have claimed it was “frivolous, maybe worse?”

        The point I’m trying to make here is that maybe of us find it rather curious how some left-leaning bloggers deal with big news items in this state. They waste no time going after anyone with GOP ties; however, when someone from the Dem Party, or with Dem ties, steps out of line, does something illegal or unethical, we are treated to a series of defensive “yeah, but’s,” if the issue is even covered at all. For those of us who clearly see problems with politicians of all shapes and sizes this very blatant, politically-motivated one-sidedness is intellectually insulting. Thanks.

        • From John Adams:

          Program specialist Mary Baker said the staff did not call the police, but called Capitol security to “give them a heads-up.”

          From Mike Dennison, two days later:
          Mary Baker, program supervisor at the office, said office staff called police Tuesday because they felt Gallik left the office in anger and were worried what he would do when he returned.”

          These guys are both pretty solid reporters, I’d argue.

          • Rob Kailey

            It should be noted, but likely won’t be, that Capital Security are a fully functioning police force, with all authority and legal weight of the Helena PD.

    • Pogue Mahone

      HEY, the adams’ story pretty much speaks for itself! There is really no need for “minions” now, is there? Guess well see how this thing fially plays out. But mikey, just WHAT was Gallik’s crime?

    • Hector

      WOW, I made “minion” status. I was not attempting to be a minion. I think Galik’s hands are dirty. I just think the level of insubordination and refusal to do assigned tasks is more appaling than Galik mismanaging 2 jobs. Also I don’t understand why the fact that Mrs. Baker was nominated for Galik’s job by the republicans is not considered pertinent information.

  3. Mark (or whatever your real name is)

    Seriously man. Stop lying.

    That one commenter on a blog said the things you’re saying does not mean it’s “the drum beat.” It means that one person said them over and over again.

    That you are more interesting in broadly attacking people for things they haven’t done rather than engaging in substantive discussion, is telling.

    Every time I have responded to your allegations and taken the time to prove that your arguments don’t hold up, you keep changing the ground.

    That suggests your motives are not quite what you’re pretending they are.

    • Mark Miwertz

      Nobody’s lying. I accurately quoted comments on your website. Numerous people have made similar comments, on at least a couple of different websites, and others, like Mr Adams and Mr Koehler have made similar observations to mine.

      Everything I’ve quoted and written is dead on accurate. If you want to man up and apologize to the state employees for what you’ve allowed on your website, I’m sure they would appreciate it.

      My last comment was 100 percent in support of the state employees. This situation is a helluva lot more about them, than it is about you or me. Perhaps you should reflect on that before you continue to try and engage in some stupid message board nerd fight like your pal Larry always attempts to do.

  4. lizard19

    oh Jeebus, let’s reduce the drama to a simple acknowledgment that politics is a game that entails maximizing the opposing teams mistakes while minimizing your team’s mistakes. if you go to partisan sites, that’s what you’re gonna get.

    • Mark Miwertz

      Did you watch the republicans debate the other night, for the nomination for Governor? Jim Lynch did a pretty good job. Is he a democrat or a republican? Did he do a good job for MDOT? I can’t tell.

      Maybe it is time for a blog that isn’t a “partisan site”, just as it is time for some candidates, like Mr Lynch, with independence as well.

      Anyway, I yield to your better judgment, L19

  5. Mark Miwertz

    2-2-121. Rules of conduct for public officers and public employees. (1) Proof of commission of any act enumerated in subsection (2) is proof that the actor has breached a public duty.
    (2) A public officer or a public employee may not:
    (a) subject to subsection (7), use public time, facilities, equipment, supplies, personnel, or funds for the officer’s or employee’s private business purposes;

    Did he sit in his office, during office hours for which he was paid, and work on private business? Well, I think he said not only that he did, but also that the Governor gave him permission to do so.

  1. 1 Montana Blog Roundup 22 January 2012

    […] piece by the Great Falls Tribune’s John Adams. Jhwygirl weighed in, wondering why there isn’t greater oversight of Political Practices and James Conner suggested that moving the entire office to the Secretary of […]

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