Recall that when Dave Gallik was forced out as Commissioner of Political Practices last year, there was a feeling among readers at the time that something didn’t smell quite right. His four employees had rummaged through desk and photocopied his notes, kept tabs on his comings and goings, and sent it all to reporters. They even called the police one time without any legitimate explanation. There was a feeling among many observers (and many commenters here) that something smelled fishy, especially when the now-infamous photo appeared on the front of the IR, the four women posing for the photographer, seeming to bask in the glow of their 15 minutes of sunlight.
Gallik has always maintained that he was framed by four people who were out to get him because he was a tough boss who forced them to change their ways, and they were resistant.
Well, yesterday Gallik got his day in court. And one of his chief accusers, Julie Steab, one of the employees who made some of the strongest accusations against Gallik in the press, was called to the stand.
To the shock of observers in court and the embarrassment of the attorney bringing the case against Gallik, Ms. Steab testified that she was the target of a surveillance operation, that “an unknown person or persons” were “following her” around, day and night, in the aftermath of Gallik’s resignation. She also testified that the other three women in the office were similarly tailed. But Mary Baker, one of the other employees, took the stand after Steab and stated that she had never been followed nor did she know of any case where any of the four employees were followed.
I’d say Steab’s bizarre testimony is grounds for the press and public to reconsider Gallik’s tenure and the events surrounding his departure. In my opinion, he was brought down by at least one woman whose credibility has been shattered, whose testimony yesterday clearly suggests to me some type of paranoia or tendency toward fantasy.
The attorney bringing the case was none other than the Tea Partier Art Wittich, suing Gallik on behalf of the Montana Policy Institute, the right-wing think tank. Wittich, like most GOP attorneys in Montana, spends his days suing the Governor, Steve Bullock, Commissioners past and present, and Democrats generally. Clearly his star witness, Steab, did not deliver, destroyed her own credibility, and caused Wittich some embarrassment. Poor guy. It’s kind of like calling a witness to the stand, who upon cross examination confesses to having been abducted by aliens, or having seen Elvis still alive in Hawaii.
Which leads me to a humorous final point, a general pattern of events the last few weeks:
It’s been a dry spell for GOP attorneys. A few weeks back, Rick Hill hired Bozeman Tea Party hot-head Monforton to give him legal advice. It it was Monforton’s idea to take the $500,000 donation, it was perhaps the worst legal advice in Montana political history, probably destroying Hill’s campaign. Then another of Hill’s lawyers, Cory Swanson, a young corporate lobbyist and lawyer who makes a living suing the Schweitzer administration, got his head handed to him in district court by three top-rank democratic lawyers, the judge barring Hill from spending the illegal $500k. Jim Brown, another conservative attorney who represents right-wing American Tradition Partnership, was caught on camera with a mouthful of marbles when presented clear evidence that his client broke the law by coordinating with GOP candidates; he had no response to the reporter, and turned red in the face. Brown had to then contend with a crowd of protesters outside his office the day after the PBS story aired (though he was a good sport about it, fielding questions from members of the hostile crowd). Now Wittich puts his star witness on the stand to make his case, and she says that big brother is watching her day and night. Bwahahahaaa!