Montana Politics

Were the Police Called to the Office of the Commissioner of Political Practices?

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As I mentioned the other day, one of the elements of the Commissioner of Political Practices1448 story that made the least sense to me was the decision by the Commission staff to call the police on Tuesday afternoon.

After reading press reports about the decision, I’m even more confused, because it seems that Mary Baker told one reporter she did call the police out of fear of “a verbal attack” and another reporter that she didn’t.

From the Helena Independent Record, January 19:

Mary Baker, program supervisor at the office, said office staff called police Tuesday because they felt Gallik left the office in anger and were worried what he would do when he returned.

“You can imagine how tense the office is; we were just concerned about safety,” she said. “I don’t think he would physically harm anyone; we were more concerned about an escalated verbal attack. … I think the tensions were high enough that we were concerned he might be pretty upset.”

From the Great Falls Tribune, January 17:

Program specialist Mary Baker said the staff did not call the police, but called Capitol security to "give them a heads-up."

"We knew he was going to be talking to press people today so we alerted Capitol security there was a potential that he might get upset," Baker said. "We were just nervous and wanted them to know what was going on. We didn’t make a report or anything of that nature."

The most important question is certainly whether or not Mr. Gallik used his office improperly as Commissioner and why the state doesn’t have a better system of oversight in place. There’s no question that the state should have stepped in sooner to investigate the allegations against him.

But details do matter. Everyone involved in this story deserves to have facts that will affect his/her reputation reported correctly.

Given that Independent Record already incorrectly reported that Gallik kept a private and state computer at the Commission office when those computers were actually at his law office, it’s important that the facts be accurately reported.

About the author

Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba is a eighteen-year teacher of English, former debate coach, and loyal, if often sad, fan of the San Diego Padres and Portland Timbers. He spends far too many hours of his life working at school and on his small business, Big Sky Debate.

His work has appeared in Politico and Rewire.

In the past few years, travel has become a priority, whether it’s a road trip to some little town in Montana or a museum of culture in Ísafjörður, Iceland.

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