Arntzen is paying staffer $187,000

If Republicans are indeed “fiscally conservative,” nobody has told this to Elsie Arntzen, the GOP state superintendent of schools who was elected last year to a four year term and has so far made a spectacle of herself on multiple occasions. She has seen fit to hand out public funds to just about every old friend she can think of, including a contract to a crony to “study” something that didn’t need to be studied.

But now she’s outdone herself, in shocking fashion. She has hired an advisor onto her personal staff by the name of Patrick Beddow Sr., and is paying him $187,200 according to the state salary website. That comes out to $90.00 an hour. As a point of comparison, starting teachers in the Montana school system, which Arntzen presides over, make around $20,000 a year if not less.

Heck, the governor only makes $111,0000 and that’s the upper limit of pretty much any politician, cabinet member or personal staff salary. In fact Arntzen’s ace staffer Beddow (whose advice we can be sure is worth every dollar) probably makes more than almost any state worker except maybe a few doctors at state medical facilities. He is listed in news reports as having been hired to advise Arntzen on issues pertaining to the Land Board, on which she sits.

The obvious question–what in God’s name is an elected official thinking when she does something like this–is one I cannot answer. But I think the people of the state could answer it in two ways: by a voter recall of Arntzen, or an impeachment by the legislature. In addition to removing her from office, there should be passed the “Elsie Arntzen Compensation Limitation Act” that would limit the size of state salaries for cronies.

Her payout to this friend comes at a time when the state is trying to find revenue to pay for essential services, such as compensating firefighters for job-related illnesses, housing low income seniors, repairing roads and bridges, and funding the University so that tuition need not be raised. So unless I’m missing something, I think we can safely say that what she’s done here is so outrageous that perhaps it’s an indication that there is something fundamentally wrong with her, maybe a few french fries short of a happy meal. Regardless, she needs to go.


40 Comments on "Arntzen is paying staffer $187,000"

  1. This is BULLSHIT on her part. With schools facing financial problems across the state, just how does this bimbo think that we are in a financial position to pay ridiculously high salaries?

  2. Who is Patrick Beddow? If she’s hiring him to “advise” her on the Land Board, that’s ominous. Who is he and what ties does he have to land-theft outfits?

  3. Google him!
    Business and Minerals Attorney in Billings!
    Any quid pro quo?

  4. What do we taxpayers pay ‘Devos Lite’?

  5. Aren’t these salaries set by the State? How does she get to determine an outrageous salary like his? He makes three times my salary as a 27 year veteran of teaching with a Master’s degree plus some!

  6. Lawyers, the ultimate bottom feeders!

  7. I’m a cardiac RN, I work on saving lives every day at work. I make less than one third of this amount. For $187k, what does this man do? This offends me.

    • JEALOUSY WILL GET YOU NOWHERE!! Maybe you need a career change!! Take “Heart,” you could do what Patrick Beddow Sr. does & make 3 times as much as you do now if ya had the qualifications!!!

      • Hey Joe- In your need to defend the absurd, you completely missed Christiana’s point…it is YOUR interpretation that she’s jealous. More likely, she is attempting to stimulate some self and cultural examination of the values inherent in any person or society that believes and engages in the rewarding of one life endeavor that serves society’s people, over another… one whose job it is to take from the people’s assets – whether public lands or public education!.

  8. Here’s some info on him: “About me

    A significant portion of my practice focuses on real property related issues, including mineral transactions, mineral and title curative, perparation of title opinions, lease and contract negotiation, and asset protection and planning in Montana, North Dakota, and Wyoming. I enjoy assisting and working directly with individuals and entities whether their issue(s) be large or small. I have experience assisting both lessors and lessees in the drafting and negotiation of complex agricultural and mineral leases throughout the region. My practice also includes the areas of estate administration and probate, trust formation and administration, and business entity formation and governance.”

    • Also from Martindale Hubbard: Mr. Beddow JD from UM 2011. Worked for premier O & G Attnys Crowley and Fleck. Recently most Junior Partner in another Attny Firm often representing O & G interests seeking to secure Title, cure or fix a defective Title.

      A deeper search will disclose past Beddow clients.

      Likely Beddow is working for personal clients, also the State of Montana, but in what percentage?

      If he is on the career path to work with active and Quiet Titles with MT O & G this may or may not boost his climb rate.

      My concern relates to who selected and defined Beddow’s job,or ?retainer type, description. What the deuce are his Staff responsibilities??

      Same fellow who imported/Appointed/ Lawrence Van Dyke from Texas to write specious briefs for Montana re discrimination and religous rights of “right thinking people.”

      Oh well, may this is just another simple case where our OPI Super is billing us for amateur sleuth to identify and short list defects from previous OPI chief and staff. And protecting Montana School Land revenue.

      On the third hand, maybe Beddow was tabbed by private and Public Attorneys primarily to fight for strong, current Montana rights in ongoing cases before the Land Board.

      Hoping at least a third of OPI Super’s central staff are not a faith-based platform with a broken fourth leg.

    • Kathleen Williams | April 17, 2017 5:44 PM at 5:44 PM |

      who cares u are not worth what she is paying, and u are not a needed voice for her, although she should just be impeached so we can get someone in the supers office who really knows what they are doing and do not need another attorney to help them. God help the state of Montana if we do not do something about this and do it quickly

  9. Sometimes it’s not what she is thinking but what she’s feeling. I worked with another team like this. The female supervisor was obviously smitten and the man was next to incompetent. Let’s hope Beddow falls into this category and he’ll soon be gone.

  10. Matthew Koehler | April 17, 2017 1:49 PM at 1:49 PM |

    Just pointing out that according to MEA-MFT, the beginning teacher salary in Montana is $26,734. Yes, that’s not a lot, but it’s also about 33% higher than the claim in this blog post that “starting teachers in the Montana school system, which Arntzen presides over, make around $20,000 a year if not less.”

    • Teacher salaries are negotiated by district, and are not uniform across the state. The MEA/MFT salary figure is most likely an average.

      • Matthew Koehler | April 17, 2017 4:59 PM at 4:59 PM |

        I agree, and figured the same thing regarding the MEA-MFT $26,734 figure being an average from across the state. For the record, I also think teachers should be paid more…especially starting teachers.

        • Many districts have a starting first year salary that is never paid as they start their new teachers at the third year on their salary matrix. For example say the first year is $32k, second year is $33.7k, third year is $35.4k. The new teacher is paid $35.4 the first three years then in their fourth year they are given tenure and are then paid $37.1K and from then on will be paid on the salary matrix based upon steps and lanes.You may say these numbers are high, but they are pretty close to what the AA districts in Bozeman, Missoula, Helena, Billings and Kalispell pay.The low pay comes from the B and C districts and drive the numbers down statewide, although some of these districts provide housing and utilities as partial payment. Also many new teachers at the middle and high school level receive stipends for coaching extra curricular activities, this can add another $3k-$5k to their yearly income. Throw in summer work and these 22 and 23 year old kids are making over $40k a year. In reality compared to the average wage of workers in Montana it’s not that bad. And before you all jump on me for being anti teacher I will tell you, I come from a family with multiple educators in it and I am the proud father of a Montana public school teacher.

  11. Old Line Democrat | April 17, 2017 2:15 PM at 2:15 PM |

    While the starting salary is outrageous, it is probably more important to look into the significance of hiring someone with type of legal expertise in the OPI.
    Given the low rates ranchers pay for grazing on state land sections, it would appear that this might be an indication of a change from agricultural leasing to something more like mineral exploitation with an eye toward sales. It would behoove us all to keep an eye on how this gentleman is going to pay for his keep.
    Pm the bright side it could be a boon for other state attorneys. A one percent raise on that salary is pretty attractive.

  12. There is no attorney worth that hefty salary. But Wow you voted for her and she,like #45 raping our nation, will rape the state

  13. I wish Arntzen would get her glasses repaired. That adhesive tape on her bows is terribly distracting.

    • And you, Whipperlasher, I wish you’d get your vocabulary repaired — and expanded — so that you can make a coherent argument instead of delivering playground insults.

      • James – Do you not see your projection? (That old ability we humans have to comment on the splinter in the others’ eye while having a log in our own!) Specifically, you REALLY think to comment on the adhesive on her glasses represents a coherent argument? Wow!

  14. Montana’s Palin.

  15. Rodney T. Hammer | April 17, 2017 5:25 PM at 5:25 PM |

    I hope everyone realizes that there is more than one Pat Beddow in town, and the guy hired by Artzen isnt an attorney.

    • Yeah, you are all barking up the wrong tree. Maybe do a little bit more homework before you start freaking out and inundate the poor guy with phone calls and emails.

      • Pat Beddow, the one currently siphoning our tax dollars, owns a mineral company in Billings and was a top donor to Arntzen’s campaign. In every other industrialized country this would be illegal…

  16. If she wasn’t comfortable with her own skills making decisions for the citizens of MT–knowing that one of her job duties would be to work as part of the Land Board-she should not have run for office. Instead, we mow pay high rates for her lack of preparation.

  17. While the post may be interesting, it’s also factually inaccurate — especially this text, “In fact Arntzen’s ace staffer Beddow (whose advice we can be sure is worth every dollar) probably makes more than almost any state worker except maybe a few doctors at state medical facilities.”

    Fact Check:

    * Clay Christian, Commissioner of Higher Ed: $309,212.80 /yr (with the next 6 under him making $102-165k)
    * Lawrence Hubbard, Montana State Fund: $305,011.20 / yr (next 12 people under him make $130 – $221k)
    * 4 Highest in Dept of Justice: $203k – $237k
    * 5 Highest paid in Dept. of Administration: $121k – $138k
    * 5 Highest paid in Dept. of Corrections: $192k – $202k

    Keep in mind, this is just based on their hourly rates — not including the substantial perks like taxpayer vehicles, deferred compensation income advantages, etc.

    Anyone can access the official state database here:

    • Well done Ryan. It is so disconcerting when opinions are thrown around as facts.

    • Old Line Democrat | April 18, 2017 7:07 AM at 7:07 AM |

      While it is true he is not the highest paid state employee, that wage is a phenomenal starting point for someone who is not a highly trained and experienced professional in an area like law, psychiatry, medicine or the like. A state attorney with about 20 years experience with the state only makes around $46.00 per hour. This is a combination of campaign payback and an opening for a run on our public lands held in trust for our school system. This is a hire that needs media scrutiny. Too bad we don’t have a functioning press in this state anymore.

    • You’re likely right about the first two being overpaid (not surprisingly, these entities set their own pay), but let’s take a look at your other “counterpoints”:

      At Justice, the explanation is simple: 4 doctors.

      At Admin, the 5 top earners are three lawyers, who based upon their longevity bonuses have probably worked for the state for quite some time; a division administrator with decades of a experience; and the state’s CTO. The CTO would likely early twice what he does working for the state if he went into the private sector.

      The 5 highest paid Corrections officials are four doctors and a dentist. They would likely earn much more in the private sector.

      In other words, the examples you cite are normal high-earners who probably take a pay cut to work in public-sector jobs that require these licensed professionals. The next highest-earning lawyer in the bunch of all your examples is Bill Gianoulias, who runs the division defending the state in any sort of tort lawsuit. By way of the difference between his base and actual pay, you can tell that he’s been doing this job for likely 25+ years. Yet here comes here comes the new guy at OPI making $62,000+ more than the longtime lawyer from Admin who has been defending the state for decades. No number of apples to oranges examples excuses this egregious abuse of taxpayer money. A few commenters appear to laud your dishonest effort, but they are indeed the ones throwing opinions around as facts.

  18. As a frequent reader, I hate to torpedo the headline, but in my sleuthing around, it appears this man works and advises at this hourly rate for less than the equivalent of 1 day/week. The State doesn’t say he makes $187,000 per year, but $90 per hour. So, the actual yearly amount appears to be much less.

    • Old Line Democrat | April 18, 2017 7:57 AM at 7:57 AM |

      So, what exactly is he advising on that the current state employees are not consulted about?
      Could it be that the facts don’t line up with the plan or preconceived ideas about state lands?
      A simple request for public information should tell us something whether it is stonewalled or coyly responded to.

  19. Perhaps not as outrageous as it first sounds if he has not been hired as a full-time employee. $90 per hour for a part-time consultant is not an unusual amount. Still not a fan of Elsie’s, but let’s try not to inflame issues in order to get people all hysterical, please.

  20. Ugh. Do your research next time Progressive Cow. Misleading articles such as this one give credence to Trump’s “fake news” allegations.

  21. Methinks Arntzen has discovered sockpuppeting.

  22. Sloppy reporting, Cowgirl. This was easy to fact-check, as others have mentioned.

    Incoming superintendent of public instruction announces appointments
    ERIN LORANGER Dec 30, 2016

    Patrick H. Beddow, contractor, to advise on State Land Board matters: Beddow, a consultant minerals landman from Billings, has been involved with oil, gas, hard minerals, coal and land-title related issues for over 38 years.

  23. Top donor to his campaign? He donated $400. Not exactly a quid pro quo when you look at the very public donor list.

  24. Also the state salary website link in the post leads to no information. Searching “Beddow” shows he’s at $90/hour, nowhere says 187k per year? Is this just bad math in the article title or how did this get calculated? It’s still about 172k at 40 hours per week which is sky high, but I believe the newspaper says he advised for 40 hours per month.

    Pay record:

  25. Some how the point is lost in exorbanent compensation. The State Land Board has a large contingent of attorneys and others of issue expertise. What else Artzan looking for?? Must be a connection elsewhere?? W Bell

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