Financial Troubles Haunt New Republican County Commissioner

The Republican Party claims to value fiscal restraint. However, Flathead Republicans have appointed a new County Commissioner who not so long ago couldn’t manage his own budget.  Republican Cal Scott declared bankruptcy after racking up hundreds of thousands in loans and credit card debt.  The new Commissioner replaces a commissioner who died unexpectedly this spring.

Mr. Scott had touted his budget and financial planning experience as among the reasons he should be appointed to the post.  In a letter to the Republican Central Committee tasked with nominating candidates, Mr. Scott touted his financial counseling and planning experience as among the reasons he should be chosen. It appears as though he has an interesting approach to planning his own finances and budget, relying heavily on credit card transactions, which have resulted in a bankruptcy declaration several years ago.

As one of his first acts as an interim commissioner, Mr. Scott voted with the other Republican commissioners to increase the Commissioners’ pay, the Flathead Beacon reported.

Mr. Scott was selected as interim commission by the remaining County Commissioners, who were aware of his past financial troubles, the Daily Inter Lake reported. Scott says the bankruptcy is irrelevant, but voters tend to want to have a sense of a candidate’s personal ability to tackle the job.  How will she or he deal with millions of dollars of tax payer money?  How well does she or he understand budgets and prioritizing? Basically, voters want to know if candidates can manage their own affairs. If they can’t, voters will wonder how they can manage the county’s.

Mr. Scott will fill the post until November, when he must face Democrat Gil Jordan in the general election.

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12 Comments on "Financial Troubles Haunt New Republican County Commissioner"

  1. It’s rather interesting to note that Mr. Scott has been dubbed “Credit Card Cal” in the Flathead valley.

  2. Gosh, I don’t know who to vote for….a guy who attended OWS events in Kalispell, or the guy who ORGANIZED the event? Certainly not the latter.

  3. So True:

    “The other thing that I think needs clarification is that it’s wrong to think of conservatives as having a single argument for their preferred policies. What they offer instead is more like an onion, with layers inside layers; every time you strip away one excuse there’s another one inside.”

    http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/07/21/the-conservative-onion/?smid=tw-NytimesKrugman&seid=auto

  4. Three of the four candidates for county commissioner in the Flathead have experienced bankruptcies. In the Kalispell district, GOP candidate Gary Krueger went through a medical bankruptcy 20 years ago (his wife died from cancer). His opponent, Democratic candidate Clara Mears-LaChapelle, filed for bankruptcy earlier year. And as reported above, GOP nominee Cal Scott emerged from a recent bankruptcy. The InterLake has the story: http://dailyinterlake.com/news/local_montana/article_90be7256-a74e-11e1-9b8f-0019bb2963f4.html

    Scott has been reticent about his financial difficulties, but I attribute this to a sense of shame rather than an attempt to cover-up anything.

    This is not an issue that Democrats should try to exploit.

    • Two things. Regarding the bankruptcy of the democrat who had medical debt from when his wife had cancer. That would happen to any one of us whose spouse was stricken with the disease. Credit Card Call ran up $200 grand in credit card debt. That’s a completely different story. I know a couple where the wife got cancer and their doctor told the couple to divorce so they wouldn’t lose their home in the (inevitable) bankruptcy. So I think the situations are very different.

  5. earlier this year, not earlier year

  6. Discretion is no doubt the better part of valor, but since my good name is involved, I’d like to offer a few clarifications.

    1. Regarding Mr. Scott becoming interim commissioner: the Republican Central Committee who submitted the nomination and the two Republican commissioners who made the appointment, neither were aware at the time they made their decisions of Mr. Scott’s financial difficulties. The bankruptcy came to light just nine days before the June 5 primary election where Mr. Scott prevailed by a slim one and a half percent, presumably on the strength of absentee ballots filed before the public disclosure. The two commissioners said after the fact that knowledge of Mr. Scott’s problems would not have made any difference in their decision, as one might expect.

    More troubling than Mr. Scott’s 22 credit cards and (depending on which account you accept) between $173,000 and $195,000 of unsecured debt, in terms of how it reflects on his character, is the fact he chose not to reveal his bankruptcy to his own party in interviews before they made him the party choice for commissioner.

    And as Cowgirl points out, Mr. Scott barely had his new Commissioner chair’s seat warm before he voted for an INCREASE in commissioner pay (perhaps understandable for a man just emerging from bankruptcy). If elected, I pledge to vote to REDUCE commissioner pay to previous levels, and I’ll turn down the free car the County offers in exchange for mileage on my perfectly good personal vehicle, all to save taxpayer’s hard earned funds and re-direct them toward citizen service.

    2. Despite its record of effectiveness, I dislike negative campaigning—voters should be allowed to choose based on candidates actual qualifications, not distorted attacks from the opposition. So in that sense I agree with James Conner that we should not exploit Mr. Scott’s financial difficulties. That said, Flathead County commissioners administer a $75 million budget, and it seems reasonable to inquire why Mr. Scott feels he can be responsible with the taxpayers’ money when he was so irresponsible with his own (and that of his creditors, who were left in the lurch). That’s not an attack, but a question about the facts.

    I can ask that question with a clear conscience since I have zero debt, both personally and with the business I run. I use one credit card, which for thirty years I have paid off in full every month without fail, thus never having paid a nickel of interest. I am a cash and carry kind of guy—if you can’t afford it, don’t buy it. The non-profit organization I direct had substantial debt when I was hired in January, 2005, and one of the first things I did was pay it off, and we’ve been debt free ever since. That’s how the County should be run as well. It is reasonable to ask why Mr. Scott obtained 22 credit cards and amassed nearly $200,000 in unsecured debt.

    3. Regarding my involvement with the Occupy Flathead rallies in Kalispell, I am proud of, and own, my participation, but when they began October 15 of last year, I was not among the organizers—I heard about it and showed up along with 100 other citizens. Since then a small core group of ten to twelve people have continued to hold the noon to 1 PM gatherings for 41 weeks in a row, committed to the idea that it is important to keep the Occupy issues in the public conversation.

    Confirming the inaccuracy of stereotypes of Occupy participants, contrary to those stereotypes, we are responsible retired folks or still gainfully employed, who worked hard for what we have achieved, and feel strongly about getting money out of politics and leveling the playing field for the 99% by amending the incongruous Supreme Court decision that corporations are people. It is significant that among the core group of ten folks, fully half, five of us have made the community service commitment of running for public office. We’re not sitting on the sidelines complaining, we’re stepping up to serve.

    We are encouraged each week at the rallies by the enthusiastic support from passing motorists who give us about 25 to 1 (we count them) positive response (thumbs up, horn honks, waves, smiles, the peace sign) vs. negative (thumbs down and the occasional one finger salute—such a thoughtful response). We are standing up on the line for the 99% and the vast majority of people passing by clearly get it and approve.

    If voters are interested in my publicly stated positions as a commissioner candidate on relevant issues (job creation, planning, property rights, representation, rural identity, water quality), please check out http://www.jordanforcommissioner.wordpress.com

    I would urge, and hope, that the dialogue on these issues remains civil—we’ve had enough of name calling and polarization. It’s time we start talking to one another, and more importantly, listening. I pledge to do that as your next Flathead County Commissioner.

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