Somebody at the Secretary of State’s office needs a timeout.
Following an editorial in the Billings Gazette that raked Secretary of State Corey Stapleton over the coals for a serious of “questionable decisions” and calling on the Legislature’s State Administration and Veterans Affairs Interim Committee to exercise oversight over the flailing office, Stapleton went to his personal Facebook page to have a little tantrum.
One wonders whether Stapleton, who later in the day, warned county elections officers to watch for foreigners during election season, understood that no one is criticizing his unfortunate staff but the leadership in his office. It strains belief to imagine that Stapleton would ever sit down with any reporter to discuss the ethical, practical, and legal failures of his short tenure in office.
He certainly doesn’t even seem to understand the basic concept that an editorial is hardly an anonymous hit job or that it’s unseemly for a political leader to claim “slander” (sic) when the press simply does its job.
The Gazette editorial laid out a strong case against Stapleton, strong enough that Montanans should worry about his ability to conduct an election impartially or competently. They note:
- Stapleton’s fraudulent claim of massive voter fraud in Montana.
- The massive number of people who’ve left his office (though the press hasn’t done any actual reporting on this).
- The $265,000 waste of Stapleton’s folly when he sent out a full-color Voter Information Guide that wasn’t proofread and had to corrected.
- His decision to hire a personal friend to do the rush print job instead of the low bidder.
- His decision, mocked by the Republican Attorney General, to hire an outside law firm to defend his quixotic, political attack on the Democratic Party.
- His subsequent admission that his motives were “political” and that he hired the wife of his old friend the printer to fail in the case.
- Other irregularities about the spending in his office (something reported here, and not anywhere else in the Montana press).
It’s almost as if the editorial board of the Gazette has a subscription to our site, though they did miss my favorite Stapleton story, that he spent thousands of dollars producing an ad that told Montana voters to invalidate their absentee ballots.
They also didn’t even mention the ongoing scandal of Stapleton using his office’s mailing list to send political messages to Montanans who surely don’t appreciate his illiterate screeds littering their inboxes.
Montanans have every reason to be concerned about Stapleton’s ability to oversee an election, though. During the primary, political observers found themselves wondering how outlets like the New York Times and Washington Post were able to have results that were more frequently updated than the official Secretary of State’s page in Montana, and those close to the office tell me that the mass rush to leave the office after Stapleton and his regime swept in has drastically undermined their faith in the ability of the SoS to do the job well.
So, while Mr. Stapleton is busy on Facebook having a tantrum, maybe he should be in the office, righting his own ship before he makes such a mess of the election that’s just days away that even another video produced at taxpayer expense won’t save him.