Archive for February 25th, 2014

by lizard

Someone needs to take the figurative shovel away from Fred Van Valkenburg, because he clearly doesn’t have the good sense to stop digging the hole he’s in.

On Sunday, some new wrinkles appeared in Missoula County’s scandal-ridden county attorney’s office, sparking anger from apparently uninformed county commissioners:

At midweek, the county commissioners turned to Montana Attorney General Tim Fox for his take on the Justice Department report, which cited specific cases where victims said their allegations had been ignored or discounted by prosecutors. What they learned surprised them.

While he was still attorney general, Montana Gov. Steve Bullock struck an agreement with the DOJ in June of 2012 – at the outset of the DOJ’s investigation into Missoula’s and the University of Montana’s handling of sexual assault allegations.

The pact called on the DOJ to turn over to the state attorney general – whose office oversees all county prosecutors – any new allegations of sexual assaults or new information about previously reported sexual assault allegations.

Fox, as the current attorney general, sent a letter to the DOJ on Thursday requesting that information, citing the DOJ’s allegations that new evidence had been uncovered and that past cases had been mishandled or inappropriately dismissed.

The 2012 agreement wasn’t made known to county commissioners until last week, a fact that has Landquist livid. She had voted with fellow commissioners Curtiss and Bill Carey to approve a $50,000 appropriation from the county’s general fund for Van Valkenburg to challenge the DOJ’s investigative jurisdiction in U.S. District Court.

If Van Valkenburg knew about this agreement, then he had a responsibility to inform the commissioners before they gave him a $50,000 dollar check to start his legal war against the DoJ. Of course Steve Bullock, who made the agreement back in 2012 when he was the Attorney General, could have also reached out to Missoula County Commissioners, but I guess that’s asking too much of a Governor busy grooming his choice for the US Senate.

Now that Van Valkenburg has been emboldened by the commissioners, it appears there is no target too petty for Fred to take on.

After this online letter to the editor was published a few days ago, written by some obnoxious Californian, Van Valkenburg apparently began an angry email correspondence with the guy while still on “vacation”. That story is hitting the Missoulian today:

A California lawyer is crying foul after Missoula County Attorney Fred Van Valkenburg sent him “vitriolic” emails in response to an online letter on Missoulian.com – attacks he said could have a “chilling effect” on First Amendment rights if leveled at other critics.

Jim Ghidella, a San Francisco-based attorney and Missoula enthusiast, wrote a letter published on Missoulian.com that was critical of Van Valkenburg’s decision to use $50,000 of public funds to sue the U.S. Department of Justice.

Ghidella received the first email, then responded, citing the “vitriolic tone” of Fred’s initial email. Here is how Freddy responded:

“You regret the vitriolic tone of my email?” Van Valkenburg wrote. “You ought to be regretting the arrogance you showed by claiming to know something about our suit against the DOJ which you obviously don’t know.”

“I don’t think you know what the word regret means,” Van Valkenburg added.

That sounds like a threat to me. And with this latest embarrassment, the hole just gets deeper and deeper. Van Valkenburg needs to be stopped from creating any more wreckage in the wake of his incompetence. That vacation he’s on should be extended indefinitely.

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