Our Interview with Shane Morigeau: Restoring Accountability and Transparency to the Auditor’s Office

State Representative Shane Morigeau is committed to restoring transparency and oversight into the office of Montana’s State Auditor and sees the position as an essential one that protects the economic interests of the people of Montana, and through its seat on the Land Board, one that can help protect Montana’s public lands.

In an interview with the Montana Post, Morigeau talked about his experience in the Legislature, highlighting two bills he was proudest of passing in a Republican-dominated body: one, the Montana Promise Act, a measure to ensure access to college for low-income Montanans, and the second a measure to allow survivors of childhood sexual assault to bring civil cases and criminal cases to court by extending the statute of limitations, a bill that required fighting through insurance company opposition to pass.

If elected, Morigeau promised to make transparency a priority:

One of the big ones is transparency. As I’ve traveled all over the state talking to Montanans about things they feel are as important in regard to insurance and securities and public lands, and one of the big ones I continue to hear is issues in regard to transparency, pricing and what people are paying or going to end up paying.  As I mentioned, I grew up in a low income family. And I know this is a reality for so many people in Montana, not just me and my family here in Montana, but know so many people go to the doctor and they have a visit and you don’t know what your bill is going to be until you get it.

We also discussed the budget cuts of seven full-time positions that have taken place under the current Auditor, Matt Rosendale, and how those have impacted oversight:

And you know what’s problematic about that?  When it comes to a consumer protection agency such as the state auditor’s office, the last thing we should be doing is saying cut money from this agency when it’s already spread then and really understaffed in so many ways. One of the things that I think is really lacking in that office is really the investigative arm of the agency. This is the former state auditor, Monica Lindeen did a really good job of and [John] Morrison. They both did a really good job of really ramping up the investigative side of the office to make sure Montanans were protected and making sure that we have staff to review and do the research to make sure that data is reasonable, in fact, for these rate increases. And that’s something that I’m going to go back and ask the state legislature to restore.

We also discussed the dangers of the hodgepodge of short-term and health share ministry programs that Rosendale, has promoted:

But to really to promote those programs puts people at risk. And people oftentimes don’t understand that those short term plans really do almost nothing for you if they don’t cover a lot of needs in the long term and they [consumers] might not recognize that. It’s scary to see that those are being promoted by the current auditor. And, you know, obviously, they have been identified as scams by former auditors because they… where they can deny women certain health care needs, they can deny people coverage altogether. They can deny you coverage if you don’t go to church, if you’re not a good Christian. And again, people sign up with these because they think this is a good deal, and then they find out later certain things are not going to be covered.

For more from our interview, including discussion about how Morigeau sees the role of the Auditor on the land board, talk about the likely impact of COVID-19 on insurance rates and more, be sure to give the interview a listen.

If you have more interest in the campaign, be sure to visit his webpage. In the interview, he also provides his phone number, saying that it’s part of what makes Montana the place it is:

I believe in hearing from people. I think that’s what makes Montana so special is that we’re accessible. And I think that’s one of the things I really appreciated about being a state legislator is that people can call me and it’s just me.  I don’t have a bureaucracy of five people who are blocking them from being able to actually talk to me about the issues I care about. And I believe that’s what makes Montana unique.

And if you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to our podcast anywhere you listen to them.

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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About the author

Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba has been writing about Montana politics since 2005 and teaching high school English since 2000. He's a 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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