MT Political Practices: Fair and Impartial?

I’ve written several columns about the Montana Commissioner of Political Practices over the past few years, so today when I read that “Political practices commissioner donated to Bullock campaign in 2009” after he had made a recent ruling in favor of Attorney General Steve Bullock, I just shook my head.

The new State Political Practices Commissioner Dave Gallik was asked why he did not recuse himself given the fact that he donated to Bullock’s campaign.  He said, “I don’t believe I need to recuse myself.”

That’s pretty messed up – and that’s putting it mildly. The office of the Commissioner of Political Practices for Montana reminds me of the referees used for Harlem Globetrotters basketball games.

Back in December 2010, I pasted into one of my columns the “Mission Statement” of the Commissioner of Political Practices:

To monitor and to enforce, in a fair and impartial manner, campaign practices and campaign finance disclosure, lobbying disclosure, business interest disclosure of statewide and state district candidates, elected state officials, and state department directors, ethical standards of conduct for legislators, public officers, and state employees, and to investigate legitimate complaints that arise concerning any of the foregoing.

That Mission Statement is still on the website this morning. You cannot give the public any reason to think that you are not being fair and impartial.  The new commissioner just did.

It would have been very easy for Commissioner Gallik to recuse himself on the Bullock complaint and let Montanans know that he was setting a higher standard for the office.

He didn’t – and that shows us a lot…

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