Upon publishing this story (original story below), some Montana Republicans have come forward, saying despite there not being any formal complaints made, there is a questionable history within the Governor’s administration.
The following information has not been substantiated by Montana Right Now, but is instead a compilation of reports over the last several years.
In early 2016, Bullock’s then Lieutenant Governor Angela McLean resigned from her position, after emails were released suggesting McLean, a Democrat, was being phased out of the office. While rumors have swirled as to what may have led to the fractured relationship, nothing has ever been confirmed.
We did reach out to McLean for comment; she has not returned our messages.
Later that year, it was revealed Governor Bullock had used state resources to fly with the Commerce Director Meg O’Leary to the Kentucky Derby and a Paul McCartney concert in Missoula, among others.
Then, it was discovered in 2019 that Governor Bullock failed to inform officials in New York that their new aide, Kevin O’Brien, had been fired from his job at the Democratic Governors Association for sexual harassment claims while under Bullock’s employment. O’Brien went on to be accused of sexual harassment by two other women in New York.
When later questioned by the Billings Gazette, Bullock admitted that he was “naïve” and “probably should have called.”
In July, Green Party Candidate Wendie Fredrickson wrote an op-ed piece in the Great Falls Tribune, detailing an alleged cover-up by the Governor’s office regarding fraudulent payments on the Fort Belknap Reservation. In the article, Fredrickson says she was forced into retirement as a result of her questioning.
"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."
Most recently, a woman posted a now-deleted TikTok video claiming Gov. Bullock “grabbed her butt” while taking a photo with him several years ago.
There is currently a petition circulating online calling for Bullock to suspend his campaign until more is investigated.
Superintendent of Public Instruction Elsie Arntzen has now suggested on at least two different occasions Governor Steve Bullock does not like working with her because she is a woman in power.
“I firmly believe being a female in Montana and in America right now is a challenging thing to be,” says Arntzen.
First at the Vice President’s rally in September, and again during a sit-down conversation, Arntzen says her relationship with the Governor is strained.
“It hasn’t been two-way… I am the highest elected official, a female, in the state. I also lead not just a large budget component of the state, but I lead our future. Prior to the pandemic, good two-way conversation, a great relationship. But when the pandemic began, it’s been a one-way conversation.”
Arntzen says she’s had five phone calls with the Governor in the last six months.
While the Governor didn’t specify how many phone calls he’s had with her directly, he says the communication has not been one-sided.
“My staff has worked literally every week of COVID-19, been on a call or meeting with the Superintendent. I asked my chief of staff to have regular meetings with her chief of staff, gave her my cell phone and said anytime please use it,” says Bullock.
We asked: has anyone ever suggested before that you don’t like working with women in power?
The Governor responded, “No, and literally six of eight years my chief of staff is female…I call this the silly season, where people do things to get the eye off the ball of what we’re all trying to accomplish.”
Political motivations or not, gender discrimination in 2020 is a big accusation. So, we began looking for a paper trail to see if anyone, at any point, has filed a formal complaint against the Governor. The response: “Human resources has not received any claims of discrimination against Governor Bullock.”
When pushed further, Arntzen admits the Governor has never said anything in her presence which would lead her to believe he doesn’t like working with women. But she says she still questions it.