Local Government Officials Running For Cover
By Tim Ravndal
The Constitution of Montana provides for the citizens to have the right to know and participate in proceedings of government. When an elected official infringes on these rights, the public trust is violated under the law.
According to Broadwater County Attorney Cory Swanson, Montana Attorney General Tim Fox moved to appoint Gallatin County Attorney Marty Lambert as special counsel to assist Broadwater County.
The need for prosecution assistance arises from ongoing complaints against Commissioner Laura Obert for violations of the public trust.
Last week, there was an agenda posted at the county courthouse for a meeting that would appoint the special counsel. Without giving any reason, the agenda for the meeting was pulled.
Bobbi Meehan, owner of the Broadwater Reporter, addressed the commission asking them why the meeting was canceled without public notice or reasons. Commission Chairman Mike Delger declined to answer and referred the question to the County Attorney Cory Swanson.
Delger then declared the meeting was canceled because the commissioners are awaiting legal directives from Montana Association of Counties.
Complaints on file include claims of official misconduct by Commissioner Obert. Based on Montana law, Swanson is not in a position to investigate the claims or bring charges against the commissioner due to a conflict of interest clause.
There are other complaints pending as well against the Broadwater County Commission based on Title II Chapter 2 violations.
Broadwater County Commission has been regularly holding closed door meetings claiming privacy matters that are not of public interest.
Recently a closed door meeting was held between the commission and the Broadwater County Trust Board. The trust board oversees a million dollar funding account for use in the county. Federal funds are involved, putting an additional layer of public transparency that is required under the law.
Broadwater County is currently undergoing the fiscal year budgeting process. All meetings where the budget is discussed are supposed to be open to the public. Open meeting law violations are part of the complaints on file.
Because a request for documentation on matters of public are consistently denied by the county commissioners, Redoubt News has filed a direct request for all documentation associated with the matter from the Montana Attorney Generals office.
In an official Montana Redistricting Commission meeting, Montana Legislative Attorney Ginger Aldrich explains the Montana open meeting law and the public official’s duty to the people of Montana.
Due to the fact that Broadwater County has a history of corruption it is unknown how long it will take for the wheels of justice to move the latest claims to conclusion. We will keep the citizens updated as information becomes available.
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