Update: According to public documents released on May 29, “the Montana Department of Justice, Division of Criminal Investigation received a written request by Glacier County Attorney Terryl Matt on March 22, 2019, for assistance in investigating financial irregularities of Glacier County.”
Glacier County officials were notified last week an investigative subpoena was served by the Montana Department of Justice on Black Mountain Software, Inc. See related story on page 1 of this week’s issue.
An item on the Browning School Board meeting on May 29 involved considering options available to the District other than having funding move through Glacier County.
“The Cut Bank Pioneer Press mentioned that Glacier County got a loan from the District, which is untrue,” said Browning Superintendent Corrina Guardipee-Hall at the meeting. “It was taken from an invoice from a legal counsel in Bozeman about a call to Bob Denning. I have an email from Bob that says he’s not aware of any loan arrangements with Glacier County.”
The Browning School District received a subpoena from Great Falls attorney Lawrence Anderson, who represents Jeff Gottlob, Elaine Mitchell, James Childress, et al, in a class action lawsuit against the county. Anderson was seeking documents related to the “loan” listed on County’s attorney’s invoice. (Pictured at right.)
According to Guardipee-Hall, “Our lawyers said on receipt of the subpoena that the District will not provide it (documentation) because no such documents exist. We have never loaned money to Glacier County ever, so we have nothing. I don’t know why they did this, but it caused hard feelings with the Tribal Council.”
She explained the District is in talks with the Blackfeet Tribal Business Council (BTBC) over waiving Tribal Employment Rights Organization (TERO) fees for their new construction, and this makes it appear the District has sufficient funds not to need the waiver. She has reached out to the BTBC to clarify the situation, she said.
“There was no loan to Glacier County,” Board member Brian Gallup said. “The Commissioners said they never borrowed money from us, and I agree with Corrina. The audit was clear; the line items matched with Glacier County so we would be pulling our money for a political reason, and we need to support Glacier County and the community.”
“I’m not against the county or the paper,” Board Chair Donna Yellow Owl said. “My concern is the feud between them, and it’s drawing us in so I have to ask what’s best for the District. This has been on the table for eight or 10 years. Is it time for the District to manage our own funds? That’s the reason I put it on the agenda for the Board to discuss.”
Some members said they need more information to make a decision. “Are we only pulling investment money?” Gallup asked. “What money is it?”
“I have the same concerns,” James Evans said. “The work load, more people and how much money? I want more information.”
“The reason the Commissioners said they want to keep us in is that the District is an asset to the County,” Vice Chair Wendy Bremner said. “The problem is it’s a political fight – we’re all aware of the fight with groups in Cut Bank. Pulling our money is part of their political agenda. I don’t know the reason for the Cut Bank Pioneer Press article except as political grandstanding…We had problems with County money before Mary Ann Boggs [was treasurer].”
“There have been no loans to Glacier County whatsoever,” Yellow Owl concluded.
While the agenda did not call for a vote on any new proposals, members did not appear inclined to alter their relationship with Glacier County.