It was really not a surprise when I happened to catch a tweet from the Great Falls Tribune (@GFTribune) last night that said, “Commissioner of political practices resigns.”
He did. Gallik’s parting shot in today’s Tribune tells it all: “This is a political, Republican-based fight against me,” Gallik said. “Not necessarily against me, against anybody who wants to get the job done down there.”
Who knows (or really cares) if the comments about Gallik by the staff of the political practices office are true or false. Anyone who takes that job is at a severe disadvantage because whatever side of the fence they come from it will be perceived they will rule for that side. It’s all about perception and the stakes are just too high in political campaigns these days to let this office operate the way it currently does.
Back in 2008 I wrote about the inability of the Montana Political Practices office to handle today’s campaigns. I’ve written several columns about it since then. In short, the office is a joke. The joke starts with a politician (the governor) appointing a commissioner (who may or may not be a politician or a donor) who is then approved by the senate (more politicians). The commissioner is then a referee and the perception is that whatever party he/she is from gets favors.
There are several ideas to make the office perform better (like having three or five member part-time commission rule on the complaints). Now is a great time to figure out how to modernize the office so that each side feels they will be treated fairly if/when they file a complaint or have one filed against them.
I am sure the Governor and the Legislative leaders will get right on this…
Follow Jack on Twitter @TheWesternWord.