Is Missoula County Attorney Fred Van Valkenburg Strategizing With Arizona’s Maricopa County Sheriff Arpaio?

by jhwygirl

Updated below

NBC KECI news reported last night that Missoula County Attorney Fred Van Valkenburg is refusing to cooperate with the Department of Justice investigation into the handling of rape and sexual assaults by the University of Montana, the city police and the Missoula County Attorney’s office.

You’ll remember that Mr. Van Valkenburg was “deeply disturbed” over the investigation when the DOJ came knocking back in May.

Some of you might be familiar with Sheriff Arpaio and his latest civil rights violation? The arrest of a 6-year old which also violated a Presidential executive order?

Most Montanan’s probably don’t realize the connection that both Fred Valkenburg and Joe Arpaio have..and if history is any indicator, Mr. Van Valkenburg might want to reconsider his relection bid for Missoula County Attorney in 2014.

First off, remember Thomas Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice? Not only is he heading up the civil rights investigation into the University of Montana/Missoula rape and sexual assaults – announced May 1st – he’s the same guy who’s been investigating Sheriff Joe Arpaio since 2008 for civil rights violations. That’s back when George Bush Jr. was president.

Small world, huh?

In that investigation, Perez has recently filed suit against Arpaio’s department for a “pattern of unlawful discrimination” by law enforcement officials.


Leading up to that – keeping in mind the DOJ has been down in Maricopa County since 2008 – Perez has dealt with a very uncooperative Sheriff Joe Arpaio, having to sue the guy into cooperation. The New York Times reported “Obama administration officials called the suit the first time in 30 years that the federal government had to sue to compel a law enforcement agency to cooperate with an investigation concerning Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.”


Looks like Fred Van Valkenburg is gearing up for the same sort of lawsuit – and one has to wonder just how much his bloviating reticence is costing the taxpayers. Not only that, what does he have to hide?

Why wouldn’t an attorney cooperate with the deputy of the highest law officer in the United States?

Is this how a county attorney should behave? Why should I, for example, cooperate with Fred Van Valkenburg if he came knocking? Is this really the example of a county attorney that we want here in Missoula? In Montana?

And again – Where in the world is Montana’s Attorney General Steve Bullock on this DOJ civil rights investigation? Doesn’t Montana have civil rights laws?

I’ve also always been told that a county attorney is also a deputy of the state’s attorney general. If that is the case, what does Bullock have to say about Van Valkenburg’s lack of cooperation?

Bueller? Bueller?!?

And consider that last April Fred Van Valkenburg welcomed the feds into town as they came in a attacked the state’s medical marijuana laws.

Add him to that hypocrite tag, I guess.

Per the KECI report (make sure to watch, as Fred is in fine form whining about how he’s not going to be bullied) reporter Will Wadley waves around letters from both Van Valkenburg and the Department of Justice. Kind of a shame that he doesn’t link them on line. It’s not like they were one liners – he shows multiple pages with lots of little words and legal arguments. Would be nice if KECI would share that with the general public. I kind of think Fred’s letter would be quite interesting. Let’s see the guy’s defense.

Hell – Maybe Fred should put his response to the DOJ up on his website. Inquiring taxpayers want to know!

Still, Wadley breaks a good story – and I’m glad to have seen it. Frankly, I hope the national media picks up on it, too.

For Missoulians? This is your tax dollars at work. It’s also your vote at work, since Van Valkenburg is an elected official, accountable to the voters.

We’re in for a long haul folks – I’ve had numerous conversations and most people seem to be operating on an assumption that we’re going to seem some resolution to this investigation sometime in the near future – the end of summer…soon. If history is any lesson here, Perez is going to be coming to Missoula for many many visits…and with Van Valkenburg pulling an Arpaio on the whole DOJ investigation, the DOJ is going to be at it for years.

Missoulian reporter Jenna Cederberg has her report on Van Valkenburg’s refusal to cooperate with the DOJ. Her story includes links to the letters between Van Valkenburg and the DOJ.

  1. KC Whistle

    Where’s the AG? is right. And Fred sounds more and more like some 1960s Mississippi sheriff dealing with the FBI investigation of the KKK.

  2. Pogo Possum

    Two quick points:

    1. With regards to welcoming “. . . the feds into town as they came in a attacked the state’s medical marijuana laws.”

    Don’t forget it was Attorney General Steve Bullock who is the person responsible for helping the feds coordinate the statewide investigations and the raids throughout Montana while telling a number of MM grow operators they didn’t have anything to worry about. Bullock made certain each county attorney was “on board” to welcome in the Feds.

    2. Fred is not running for re-election. He made the decision to retire at the end of this term long before the DOJ issue developed.

    Fred has always been a stubborn guy willing to do battle with anyone who dared him to do so. Democrats cheered him on when he gave Republicans hell in the legislature when he thought he and his party were right and the GOP was wrong. He hasn’t changed. Whether you agree or disagree with him, this is a matter of principle to Fred. He isn’t doing this to hide anything. He doesn’t feel he or his department did anything wrong and doesn’t like being accused of something he feels is based on political grandstanding by the DOJ.

    • I don’t forget that Bullock had his role. But you are good to remind.

      Are you sure about Fred not running for re-election? I seem to remember a news report to the contrary. But I also can’t find it, either.

      The idea that this is political grandstanding by the DOJ is utter nonsense. As if the DOJ doesn’t have anything better to do?

      Was it political grandstanding to investigate Arpaio? Or the Seattle PD? The DOJ doesn’t waste its time looking to shadow box.

      Perez is serious business. People that try and pass this off as some sort of political agenda (what? Get the Democrats in Missoula? Or is Perez making a name for himself investigating Missoula? What evil political agenda are we talking about?) leave me wondering if they even know what a political agenda is.

      And I know you aren’t saying that it’s a political agenda..I realize Fred’s got those ghosts in his own little head. Yeppers – it’s a conspiracy against Fred Van Valkenburg and he must stand up to the injustice of having to confirm he didn’t violate anyone’s civil rights.

      Is that how he’s working that one out?

      What I want to know is who is paying for his malfeasance. And who’s going to foot the bill when the DOJ drops a lawsuit on the Missoula County Attorney’s office?

      • It’s not just the U of M investigation. I have sent a very large package to Mr. Perez about the vindictive prosecution of my son who has been in the Missoula County Jail for 494 days. I had no response from Mr. Perez. Also on court record the comments Mr. Vanvalkenburg made in court. Venom dips from his mouth and yells and insults me and my son’s attorney. The fowl language he uses and lies., He is an evil man. In one instance after court he told my son’s attorney, “F You and was heard by my attorneys associate and me. The last time he said in court, “I can’t believe my son’s attorney would call me and a man in a wheel chair to testify. Man in wheel happens to be a quadraplegic and a good friend. After court he said to me, with an evil look on his face, “Your son is an angel.” My answer was and so are you and I hope you burn in hell.The firswt time I ever meet this man he laughed and said, “Oh I should have been talking to you your the money lady.” Well now he is wrong because all the money is gone to the city and state. So now he wants to keep my son in jail and get money that way and the tax payers are paying for that. He set my son’s bail at $500,000 for bail jumping and reduced to $250,000 i’VE LOST EVERYTHING.He even intimates the Judges and they don’t even say anything about that and lets him get away with it. His ego is so big and thinks nobody can touch him…FRED is the worst kind of person to have in that position. Your right he is just like that sherriff in Arizona. He violates all rights. I wish ACLU would step in and the Missoulian would write a factural story about him but they have not helped. IT’S ALL ABOUT POLITICS AND MONEY AND CITIZENS DON’T HAVE A SNOW BALLS CHANCE IN HELL.

    • Pogo Possum

      My source on Fred not running for re-election is as good as it gets. But then again Fred has been known to change his mind if he gets riled up enough.

      I have to admit though, that as a Republican who’s party has taken a lot of shots from Fred over the years and as someone who has personally seen him explode (to put it mildly) in meetings and been on the receiving end of at least one of those explosions, I still down deep like the guy and respect him as a person. Just my opinion for what it is worth.

      • Steve W

        I like Fred too, Pogo, but he hasn’t been doing his job since he was elected.

        In my case back in the 90’s he didn’t bother to look at or listen to the evidence the sheriffs had in the evidence locker. The same evidence that the judge saw in court presented by a sheriff’s deputy when he granted us a permanent Order of Protection. Instead Fred let the perps go with deferred prosecution and Fred broke state law by failing to notify us (the victims) of the change of date of the court proceeding. This was after telling us for months that there would be a trial on the lone misdemeanor charge Fred had filed unless the perps switched their plea and pleaded guilty.

        We were fine with that. We just wanted a paper trail and restitution from the perps, which of course Fred stole from us.

        We were the victims of many violent crimes from the perps, and Fred completely failed us.

        So I know how those women must feel, violated by the perps then violated by the DA.

        It doesn’t give a person a whole lot of confidence in their County DA is all I can say from my experience Pogo.

  3. Yep this might cost Missoula County Big Bucks.. This smells of a man, who like I have said in Comments elsewhere, never told Bullock he was in over his head …..when these rapes and attempted rapes took place.

    He’s protecting someone at the university,or in Missoula law enforcement … or maybe himself, cuz he didn’t do his job the first time, second time, who knows.

    But what he has done……. by trying to stop federal investigation, is hes pulling your counties tax money up to shield himself from wrongdoing or whoever from liability, and the county of Missoula’s Population do not deserve that.

    Politically charged investigations and legal reprisals involving the Maricopa County’s Sheriff’s Office, County Attorney’s Office and Board of Supervisors have cost taxpayers at least $28 million since the infighting began in 2008, and the tab is expected to grow by millions more before the disputes are resolved.

    An Arizona Republic analysis found the costs were primarily incurred as the county defended itself, elected officials and other employees against lawsuits, investigations and legal claims related to the political scrapes.

    It is based on payments by the county’s Self-Insured Risk Trust Fund and the County Attorney’s and Sheriff’s offices from fiscal 2008 through April, the most recent month for which figures are available.

    That’s 8 million a year in stupidity, does the county really want to pay that much if you let this guy be anything like The nutty sheriff.

    And what about your County board? Has anyone ever asked them if they are willing to allow this guy, Fred Van Valkenburg to spend your Tax cash to keep covering up Justice from being done for Women in your County?

    Id say Start making the phone calls to find out just who he thinks he is protecting, cuz Most Missoula Folk I know, dont like corruptive people leading them.

    • By the way I don’t care if this guy was a Democrat. Even though I am running as one down here In Dillon

      Fred had a Fiduciary duty to follow state law as these horrible cases started rolling onto his desk.Sex crimes against women, are now and have been for years,a Federal Crime as well.

      If he thought he was over his head, he had a fiduciary mandate in Montana Law to contact the AG of the state. My educated Guess is this Guy might not have done his Job. And he never Contacted the State AG..

      He, and the College are playing Chicken with a woman’s rights to Justice in this state. No football glory,can be bigger then the college’s original Mission… and that was to prepare the Young men and woman of our state, to be successful in their professional choices upon Graduation.

      Rape was not/nor ever will be on the course list, it is a state and federal crime!

      • Pogo Possum

        I will stack VanValkenburg’s ability to “do his job” up against Steve Bullock’s any day.

        • I’ll respect your Opinion but I totally disagree. A Good legislator does not necessarily mean a Good Lawyer.

          I was a researcher for a federal rights attorney for Fed civilian workers in California for 5 years. This lady attorney, Elaine Wallace, was so good the Feds set up one office of 12 Lawyers, plus researchers just to refute her in her cases against the Federal Government. Those Fed attorneys are good, and official thugs. Elaine was just better then they all were.

          I also did 5 years with attorneys before her, in an office, in Santa Rosa. Attorneys specialists, who did death row, Criminal, Real estate, DUI, and Divorce.

          What I found out in all of this is there are a lot of attorneys who aren’t court room attorneys.Some lawyers have never really spent enough quality time in the court room Their good paper lawyers though,

          Good court room attorneys let alone AG’s are hard to find. I think Fred fits that paper Mold. I think he got caught in deep water here!

          If Fred has no real federal court time as an attorney he is gonna be a goldfish in a shark tank. If he has nothing to fear he would have had this handled by now, as a capable attorney.and cases would already be on the docket,… The feds would have helped him in the clean up! Nope somethings up!

          As for him versus Bullock no chance. Bullock is already a better prepared and seasoned in the fire lawyer then Fred could ever be!

  4. young adult

    Kirsten Pabst laments that “the unfortunate reality is that the officials in charge of setting the record straight have their hands tied by the Montana Confidential Criminal Justice Information Act.” And here is those officials’ opportunity to set the record straight and be exonerated by this investigation should it be true that there was no wrongdoing. And Fred refuses to cooperate.

    t appears as though those in charge are hiding behind the guise that they must keep their lips sealed because of confidentiality, and as a result are unfairly being publicly accused of misconduct by a bunch of anonymous “disgruntled young adults”. This confidentiality claim protects our officials as much as it does the accused.

    So why not welcome the investigation (or at the very least, cooperate) so that those with their hands tied can have a voice to speak their truth? Perhaps the truth is not what they want to be heard.

  5. County Attorney Fred Van Valkenburg

    No government agency at any level, county state or federal, should try and exceed its authority. If I, as the County Attorney, “came knocking” at your door, demanding to search your house without a search warrant or to interrogate you without even telling you what you were accused of doing wrong, you not only would have the right to refuse to cooperate, but I would be shocked it you didn’t..

    Our office has nothing to hide. If you think so, please consider the following portion of my most recent letter to the US DOJ Civil Rights Division (DOJ) where I said:

    “Finally, we are as concerned as you and your superiors purport to be about the issue of sexual assault in our community. We are working on a daily basis to actually seek justice with respect to alleged sexual assaults. Responding to your repeated and legally unjustified demands simply takes time way from our effort to seek justice in our community If you are sincerely interested in understanding our work and proposing suggestions as to how we can do our job better, I suggest that you drop your threats of suing us and work cooperatively to improve the delivery of prosecution services in sexual assault cases. In that regard, if you have received complaints about how we have handled sexual assault cases, tell us what those complaints amount to and I will pledge that we will fully inform you of the reasons we have made decisions applicable to those cases and, in addition, consider any suggestions you may have as to how we can better respond to legitimate complaints.”

    Equating the arrest of a 6 year old girl by Sheriff Arpaio in Arizona with the unwillingness of our office to prosecute a case in which there is insufficient evidence to base a charge or to prove a charge beyond a reasonable doubt to a unanimous jury – which we believe to is the essence of the DOJ’s concerns about our office – is totally unfair. We cannot file a charge in order to satisfy anyone, whether that person is a victim of a serious offence or “the deputy of the highest law enforcement officer of the United States.” We can only file cases in which there is probable cause that a crime occurred and where there is sufficient evidence which will enable the State to prevail at trial. Prosecutors are required to strive to seek justice regardless of the outcome of a case. We are obligated to not only hold offenders accountable, but to also safeguard the rights of everyone including both victims and defendants, and that is what we try to do on a daily basis.

    Regarding your charge of hypocrisy, I neither “welcomed,” nor participated in the federal investigations regarding medical marijuana. I had no involvement in those matters whatsoever.

    Finally, we are eager to see a constructive resolution of the issues the DOJ has raised in our community. Regardless of what the DOJ or our critics may believe, we are committed to a continuing dialogue, both in the criminal justice system and the community at large, about everything we do and especially the issue of sexual assault.

    • if fred had been as concerned with prosecuting rapists and sexual offenders toward women in missoula as he has been concerned with his winning percentage in court, the DOJ would have no reason to look into this.

      it is time that one man’s ego step out of the way so that Missoula can go forward with an agenda that puts victim’s rights first. it is time for fred van valkenberg to resign his position. His childish tantrums are embarrassing Missoula and his stonewall tactics only further hinder an investigation long overdue to put offenders behind bars so that women can feel safe in their community again.

      • Smokey

        PB, have you actually reviewed the cases you speak of? Do you know anything about bringing charges towards someone where the evidence is lacking?

        From your statement, you sound so unbelivable igronant about the process of WINNING cases of this magnitude. So, untill you have all the fact in front of you, stop your monday morning querterbacking.

  6. For what’s worth, Fred VV is my brother. And his political viewpoints are POLAR OPPOSITE of Sherriff Joe Arpio. Fred VV was 1st MT County Attorny to endorse Barrack O’Bama in 2006 (not Hiliary but O’Bama). Fred VV and I don’t don’t see eye to eye much in Politics- BUT I DO HAVE HIS BACK Covered. This story is BOGUS as Bogus can be. The U of M Football player charges fall under the City of Missoula – NOT Missoula County -Get your Facts right. FRED VV has nothing to do with the investigation. If anything, the investigation should be kicked an impartial party like the MT AG’s office or MT Dept of Public Safey. Sincerely, Gerard (Jerry) W. Van Valkenburg -Austin Tx.

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