A big brouhaha erupted this weekend at the Office of Political Practices.
On Sunday, John Adams of the Great Falls Tribune broke the story that four workers at that office, permanent state employees, went to Adams and told him that Gallik was committing ethical violations because he was mixing his public duties with with his private law job.
According to the Adams story and subsequent reports, the four women, pictured below, alleged that Gallik sent e-mails on the state system in which he conducted his private legal business affairs, which is not permitted. The four clerical employees also alleged that Gallik had not properly filled out his time sheet, and was crediting himself for more hours than he had actually worked. Gallik did send emails to his law office, the Tribune article revealed, and he admitted to having filled out his time sheet improperly but said it was done under a misunderstanding of the rules of state compensation. He said he subsequently corrected the error after receiving guidance from these women and from the governor’s chief advisor.
There was a definite buzz going around the web after this story appeared. Some said it was Gallik’s folly to try to juggle these two careers. Some bloggers sensed a fishy smell surrounding the entire situation. Highly discussed on several blogs were various suggested motives of the employees to have gone through Gallik’s office and take photos of the content of his desk as they did.
Also a big topic of discussion was the photo of the four women, glaring out at readers in a marinade of rage, with a dash satisfaction, several of their faces exhibiting a barely detectable yet unmistakable smirk. Predictably, some sexist comments made their way around the blogs. Here we stick to business and facts.
Tipsters to this blog, and commenters elsewhere, have suggested that these women had it in for Gallik. That’s certainly possible.
Even though Gallik had clearly done some nos-nos, it’s hard to imagine that an entire workforce would try to bring him down in such a methodically lethal way, essentially declaring him a criminal, for some modest infractions that seem to stem more from Gallik’s ignorance of the rules than anything else. Plus, there are probably many state workers who make occasional use of state computers to send personal e-mails. Whether Gallik’s use was pervasive enough to require a termination is an interesting question.
Also, these women could not possibly know how much time, outside of the office, Mr. Gallik put toward his government work. Perhaps Gallik worked nights at home. Gallik had evidently kept up with all of his work and issued decisions at a fast pace, and without incurring the expense of having to hire the outside attorneys (because he is one himself) that previous commissioners used, and says he thus saved the state some money.
Gallik also says he had butted heads with these staffers, in his attempt to convert the office of political practices–a notorious bog of bureaucracy, inefficiency and futility–from a paper system to an paperless one, an online digital filing system for candidates, lobbyists and the like. In essence, Gallik seems to be saying that these gals were were resisting a modernization of an operation that they have overseen for many years, and wanted him gone.
There are two other items that should raise a flag, which emerged in Mike Dennison’s account of the matter. First, after the story broke, Gallik was in the Political Practices office and stepped out for a bit. During that time, the women decided to put in a call to the police. Why? They say that they thought he’d be talking to the press and thus the police should be alerted “in case he got upset.” They admitted, however, that they didn’t think he could ever present any sort of threat. I’d say the call to the cops was frivolous, and maybe worse.
Second, the attorney retained by these gals is a big-time Schweitzer opponent, Tom Budewitz, who has clashed publicly with the Governor.
At any rate, after the phone call to the police, Gallik called it quits, announcing that he believed these women were out to ruin him and that he could not afford the damage they were seeking to do to him. Clearly, reading between the lines, these women were probably not enjoying having to report to him, for whatever reason.
No doubt more exciting information will be dribbling out, as it always does. But the facts are that Gallik is out, but the staffers will continue on as part of the permanent government. A new commissioner will eventually arrive, and will have the pleasure of dealing with these cheery-looking folk.