2018 Election Featured Matt Rosendale Montana Politics Senate Race 2018

News Apparently Not Fit to Print: Matt Rosendale Is Abusing His Office, Campaigning on Your Time and Your Dime

Matt Rosendale likes to depict himself as a small government conservative. After all, he’s so opposed to the government spending money that he voted against expenditures for firefighters, veterans, school children, and infrastructure in his own community. But that fiscal conservatism does not seem to extend to his own office as the State Insurance Commissioner in Montana, where Rosendale has, since announcing his campaign for the Senate, refused to come to work, campaigning day after day across the state or begging for money from D.C. elites in Washington and not doing the mundane, but important work of his office.

And that refusal to lead his agency has left it in disarray, an office where supervisors with inappropriately close relationships with subordinates let some leave work for hours at a time for personal matters and in some cases, not come to work at all. Former and current staff at the Auditor’s office have described a work environment where “favoritism rules over experience” and where “seemingly inappropriate relationships between members of the appointed staff and workers directly under their oversight” have created resentments and a challenging work environment in which important tasks are left undone while staffers and their bosses “spend time at the gym taking videos and selfies.”

It makes sense that Rosendale would not be aware of these challenges, as he almost never comes to work.

Rosendale’s refusal to oversee his office was well-documented by the Tester campaign. In a public records request, they got a copy of Matt Rosendale’s actual work calendar, which shows that, since Rosendale announced his candidacy for the Senate, he’s done little more than hold the occasional staff meeting or lunch. Since the announcement, Rosendale has had few or no events on his calendar for almost half of the work days since. In the 207 work days between Jul 31, 2017 and May 27, 2018, Rosendale had little or nothing on his official schedule on 102 days.

Rosendale, who clearly ran for Auditor to launch his bid for the Senate, even repeatedly admitted that he didn’t think much of the job as Commissioner. In an interview with KINX radio on August 21, 2018, he said that he campaigns “seven days a week.”

Even Republicans piled on. Troy Downing told an audience that Rosendale was “an opportunist, career politician…” who “looks like somebody that’s in it for themselves, especially in a state where, you know, we put him in office to do a job and he’s already looking for another one.”

A pack of former Republican leaders, including two former governors and two former Congressman, argued of Rosendale that “Montanans deserve more than a U.S. Senator whose top priority is climbing the political ladder.”

We reported back in April that Rosendale timed a tour of Montana for the primary election, and even Republicans like former GOP chairman Will Deschamps and Judge Russ Fagg agreed with our assessment that Rosendale was campaigning on our dime and our time.

And it’s only gotten worse in the past few months, as Rosendale, when he’s not headed back to D.C. to beg for money from Mitch McConnell, has been at rally after rally across the state, Monday-Friday, with and without special guest stars like anti-public lands advocate Mike Lee. Even a cursory glance at the events on his campaign’s Facebook page shows someone who is far more interested in attending workday “Meet & Greet” events in Columbus” than in doing the job he’s been elected to do.

It may not take long to rubber stamp every insurance hike that comes across the Commissioner’s desk, but Rosendale owes it to us to show up, to not put industry lackeys in critical oversight roles, to not fail to check the scams and fraud that so many elderly Montanans fall prey to.

And the media owes it to us to ask why he’s not doing his job. Other than a brief mention of Judge Fagg’s criticism of Rosendale campaigning on the state dime, there’s been no attention in the mainstream press to Rosendale’s empty calendar and failure to meet his responsibilities.

We’re all smart enough to understand those who have political jobs often campaign more than they should on our time, but Rosendale’s egregious abuse of the public trust is so self-evidently wrong that it’s hard to understand why no one in the media asked for his schedule or asked for an explanation once it was made available to them.

Matt Rosendale might not have time to come to work, but the press still has time to let us know just how little he does. Isn’t that their job?

If you appreciate an independent voice holding Montana politicians accountable and informing voters, and you can throw a few dollars a month our way, we would certainly appreciate it.


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Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba is an 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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