Representative Kirk Wagoner has either found a conscience or is carrying on the work that Greg Gianforte proposed when he announced he’d create an office of ‘Government Accountability’. Two of Wagoner’s seven bills this session are written to increase protections for state employees, also known as ‘whistleblower’ bills. Seems reasonable until you take a look at his record and then the idea that there’s probably an agenda behind the two bills.
Wagoner earned an unimpressive 14% from the Montana AFL-CIO for the 2015 session. To earn a 14% he only had to vote ‘Right’ on two bills which really doesn’t point anyone in the direction of a pro-worker representative. For example, Wagoner voted ‘Wrong’ by voting AGAINST the state employee pay plan when the House held a blast vote to bring it out of committee. Just twenty minutes later he voted ‘Wrong’ again when he voted FOR Representative Art Wittich’s Right to Work bill in a second House blast vote. Hardly the indicators of a legislator who’s chief concern is the welfare of the many state employees in his district.
House Bills 202 and 208 provide for protections for state employees who believe they are on to corruption they’ve uncovered in the work place. By no means is this meant to insinuate that it doesn’t happen. The problem is that Wagoner was only able to produce one, yes one, former state employee who may, or may not have, lost their job after having ‘blown the whistle’. Exhibit A, Carol Bondy ,is currently exercising her right to challenge her firing which she believes took place with out cause. Bondy also referenced a subordinate who was terminated but is represented by a union and filed a grievance. It’s important to point out that Wagoner mentioned that employees represented by a union have these protections already but that a small percentage of state employees belong to a union. No doubt the unions view their over 60% state employee membership as small considering they would much rather be representing 90%.
Of course there’s more to a story like this so here are some dots to try to connect.
Bondy may or may not have passed information on to Representative Tom Bernett and others around the time of the Medicade expansion efforts in the 2105 session.
Tom Bernett was the subject of a 2012 campaign complaint alleging he had illegally coordinated with American Traditions Partnership.
Bondy is being represented by James Brown. James Brown represented American Traditions Partnership in 2012.
The activities of American Traditions Partnership in 2012 were the basis of SB 289 to reform Montana’s campaign finance laws. Wagoner, of course, voted against that bill.
Or maybe none of those dots connect and it’s all just coincidence.
Wagoner’s sudden concern for state employees is a complete departure from his past record and alliances. It’s unfortunate that a handful of Democrats have been duped into believing his efforts are sincere when in reality this is nothing more than a shot at the Governor and his administration. It would seem high time for the D’s in the House and Senate to circle the wagons and protect their own.
Finally, there’s an oddity here. During the 2015 session Wagoner championed gun silencer bills. In 2017 he’s carrying whistleblower bills. Can’t wait to see his 2019 theme, if we are all so lucky to be graced once more with his presence.
‘Maybe all men got one big soul ever’body’s a part of.’