Ted Dick left his post Tuesday as director of the Montana Democratic Party. He either resigned or was fired, depending on who’s telling the story. Jim Elliott, the MDP chair, sent a note around saying that Dick had chosen to depart after several years of good service. Later in the day, board member Jim Larson sent an e-mail disputing Elliott’s account.
Either way, Dick deserves some credit for presiding over turbulent times, including big wins for Jon Tester and Steve Bullock in 2012 with also some tough losses in other races. In the 2004 election he helped pull the Montana House to a 50-50 draw, something we might not see again for a while.
The good comes with the bad. Timing is everything in politics. We wish Ted well.
An interesting letter to the editor in the Billings Gazette this week asks about the conflict of interest incurred by state Senator Jason Priest, Montana’s own crony capitalist. Priest is sponsoring a bill that could reap financial benefits for the medical debt collection industry he comes from.
For years Sen. Priest was the CEO of a company that specialized in collecting unpaid medical debts owed to hospitals. The LTE reads:
State Sen. Jason Priest is the founder and president of Medipent, a New York company that relies on the huge mountain of personal debt generated by our broken health care system for its existence. Yet, as a representative of the people, he aligns himself in opposition to health care reform — a program that intends to eliminate the debt that sustains him and his company. How is his involvement not a conflict of interest?
The Montana Democratic Party also asked the question in a statement put out by new Democratic Party Executive Director Ted Dick last week:
There are a lot of questions about Sen. Jason Priest’s financial stake in the attempted repeal of the health insurance reform law and his likelihood of financial gain from the medical debt that would follow if the law is repealed. Sen. Priest likely profited from this business and presumably still has ties to the industry. It’s disingenuous that Sen. Priest failed to disclose these business interests to Montanans and the Legislature.
Priest is sponsoring several other bills this session, and it will be interesting to see what others relate to the personal financial gain of Priest or his cronies.