“I Will Not Be Silenced by Bullock” [GUEST OPINION]
I've had a few callers over the last couple weeks ask me if I had seen the guest opinion column written by the Green Party candidate for the US Senate in Montana.
Wendie Fredrickson is not only the Green Party candidate for US Senate in Montana, she's also a former state employee.
For those who haven't seen it, here's her full guest opinion column.
Guest Opinion: I Will Not be Silenced by Bullock
“What cannot be said above all must not be silenced, but written.” These words deeply resonate with me.
As a Green Party candidate for Montana’s U.S. Senate seat, I’m saddened and disgusted by the efforts of the Democratic Party, led by Governor Steve Bullock, to silence me. I have been the subject of character attacks and had questions regarding my integrity and motives that are not just inaccurate, but flat out insulting. Recently, these smear efforts culminated in a lawsuit filed by the Montana Democratic Party to try and have me removed from the ballot. As the party that claims to promote equality, inclusion and acceptance, their efforts have been no less than shameful.
Let me be abundantly clear: my run for U.S. Senate as a candidate of the Green Party is about truth and transparency in our government – and I refuse to be silenced, like so many others have, through either bullying or non-disclosure agreements.
In fact, my resolve to run for U.S. Senate has only been strengthened by the Democrats’ attempts to remove me from the ballot. I will continue to use my voice to fight for greater transparency in our government – the same transparency that I saw deteriorate before my eyes when I worked for the Bullock administration.
Before being forced into retirement in 2014, I was a proud government employee for 20 years at Montana’s Department of Health and Human Services. I enjoyed the job and ended up spending more than two decades analyzing the state’s financial books. However, I ran into a few experiences during my time that gave me pause, beginning with the state’s handling of potential fraudulent businesses.
As a person of integrity, I always believed and expected that with any business, administration, or agency that was flagged for potential fraud, those claims would be taken seriously and swiftly investigated. Unfortunately, this was not my experience with the Bullock administration.
In 2014, I noticed what appeared to be fraudulent payments in the state books – money given to undocumented welfare recipients on Fort Belknap Reservation. When I tried to raise this issue, I came under intense pressure to sweep it under the rug. But I refused to look the other way - something I’m proud of to this day.
Unfortunately, as a result of my refusal to stand down, my job was threatened and eventually, I was stripped of my responsibilities and later forced into retirement.
My story is hardly unique. In the Bullock Administration, several other auditors came forward with red-flags, reporting concerns to their superiors about questionable financial payments. Like me, they were given orders to continue making these payments and stay silent—intimidated into ignoring fraud.
This should not be the role of our government: fraud, intimidation, looking the other way, forced retirement. The government works for the people of Montana, and we deserve responsible and competent leaders who we can trust and are accountable to the truth. Anything less than this is a danger to our democracy.
As Montanans, we cannot sit back and accept this threat to our lives. We need more people who have witnessed the intimidation of the Bullock Administration to stand up to the Governor – especially women.
We’ve seen Bullock retaliate and strip his former female Lt. Governor Angela McLean of her duties, eventually forcing her out of her job, due to issues that he refuses to discuss to this day. We’ve also witnessed Bullock cover for his close friend and senior advisor Kevin O’Brien’s sexual harassment accusations, refusing to warn a future employer of his troubling history. While Bullock tried to defend his actions by saying he believed O’Brien wouldn’t do it again, his friend went on and sexually harassed another woman.
I’ve had enough of the bullying, cover-ups, and smears that run rampant through this administration. That’s why I’m running for the U.S. Senate, to restore trust and integrity in those we elect to represent us.
As a proud woman, and as a proud Montanan, I will not let Steve Bullock silence me.