Amid the state budget crunch, Corey Stapleton, the combative Secretary of State, remodeled his office with $58,000 of furniture and amenities from a local high-end interior design outfit called KR Office Interiors, according to the state transparency website that reveals all expenditures. I would encourage everyone to go through them in their entirety for the Secretary of State’s office for 2017. The interior remodeling and all other expenses be found in the checkbook accounts payable and the checkbook credit card.
You might think that $58K in interior upgrades is a grotesque extravagance for a state official to make in his first months in office, until you see the bigger number which is far worse: Stapleton in 2017 is on pace to spend $1 million more than Linda McCulloch spent in 2016 to run the Secretary of State’s office, which would be more than a 100% increase in the operating budget for the Secretary of State’s office. The expenditures are a litany of sushi restaurants, food for parties, cars, trucks, tires, five star hotels, a foreign trip, coffee stops, and lord knows what else.
Left unsaid in these documents is the exact purpose for some of these expenditures. Given Stapleton’s refusal to take press calls, I doubt we’ll ever truly get to the bottom of why, for example, he spent $1600 at the Hampton Inn one night or tens of thousands on airline tickets, hotels and innumerable travel related expenses and restaurant feasts, when you add them all up. And refreshment is an important thing to him and his staff. A tiny example, repeated dozens of times in similar ways, is $78 at Gloria Jeans coffee in Sky City, New Zealand. Why are taxpayers paying for coffee overseas when a strict per diem reimbursement is supposed to be made to any state employee on travel? As to the opulent furnishings from not only K R Office Interiors (a vendor that does not appear as a payee for any other state agency) but also tens of thousand more from Home Depot and Staples, I’m sure Stapleton will have a ready reason as to why they were necessary taxpayer expenditures.
Stapleton has spent his time in office accusing Montana voters and election workers of “fraud” but the fraud is entirely in his office. For he has taken the fees that business owners send his way to register their companies, and he has spent the money like a drunken sailor.