Character Counts

“Whoever is careless with the truth in small matters cannot be trusted with important matters”
Albert Einstein

Montanans are generally pretty forgiving folks, but they do expect their public officials to at least keep their corruption private.

Unfortunately, Pam Bucy, the Democrat candidate for Attorney General, was so anxious to let the voters know about her campaign activities on Facebook that she forgot that sometimes too much information can bite you on the butt. In Pam’s case, her FB posts confirm that she committed fraud by claiming sick leave for hours she used for campaigning.

A press release from the Montana GOP (which will never be published by the LSM in this state) lays out the specifics:

– On May 24, 2012, Pam Bucy announced on Facebook that she gave an interview with National Public Radio at the Lewis and Clark County Courthouse. The same day, Pam announced on Facebook that she “Had a great time talking with local Democratic leaders and activists over our party’s statewide weekly conference call.” She recorded her time that day as 8 sick hours.

– On April 19, 2012, Pam Bucy attended a Planned Parenthood lunch event. She recorded her time that day as 6.5 regular hours, 1.5 sick hours.

– On March 22, 2012, Pam Bucy attended a Missoula Wine, Women and Politics event, which ran from 5:30-7:30pm. She recorded her time that day as 4 regular hours, 1 vacation hour, and 3 sick hours.

[Emphasis added]

Here’s the full graphic of Bucy’s FB posts and the corresponding time sheet reports:

The payroll information was obtained from the Department of Administration as a result of a Right to Know Request for time sheets for the first half of the year.

So what’s the big deal, you ask? Well, first of all, Pam is a long-time state employee who makes around $90,000 a year in her current job at the Department of Labor & Industry. She’s been around long enough to know the rules, which are pretty dang clear and easy to understand:

Sick leave abuse occurs when an employee uses sick leave for unauthorized purposes or misrepresents the actual reason for charging an absence to sick leave. As provided in 2-18-618, MCA, sick leave abuse is cause for dismissal and forfeiture of the lump-sum payment.

The argument can be made that this only happened these three times, but that does sort of beg the suspension of credibility – The only times she broke the law was when she published evidence of her infractions??? I suspect a thorough audit of her time sheets for the entire year would turn up some other questionable occurrences where she claimed to be sick and was seen at some political event in apparent good health. But that’s not the biggest issue. Nor is the fact that she cheated the taxpayers out of about $600 bucks. If she had taken those hours as “annual leave” she would have been paid – unless she had used up all her vacation and comp time and would have been relegated to “time off without pay”. In which case she does owe the taxpayers some money.

The real issue is much bigger – and more serious: It’s about character and ethics.

Here we have a person who is seeking to become the chief law enforcement officer for the state of Montana and she is either too stupid to understand the state sick leave policy (the law!) or too arrogant to think she has to obey the law. Other state employees are disciplined – some even fired – for fraudulent use of sick time.

This is nothing short of a game-changer. If you can’t trust a person to do the right thing on the little things, how can you trust them to do the right thing on the big things? And if the head of the department plays a little fast and loose with the laws, can you trust that the corruption won’t trickle down through the ranks? If Bucy is elected, will the Department of Justice become a haven for tiny frauds? Will defense attorneys be able to focus the spotlight on the law enforcers instead of the law breakers? How many felons will be freed on technicalities because the officer just fudged that itty-bitty piece of evidence? Will Montana suffer through the national disgrace of a major crime lab scandal?

It’s interesting that both the Billings Gazette and the Bozeman Chronicle have endorsed Bucy. Assuming the editors of those papers were unaware of this story, I wonder if they will now withdraw their endorsements in light of this information? Or maybe this is an effort on the part of these papers to insure four years of juicy stories about corruption and scandal in Montana’s Department of Justice…

The Attorney General is an important official in the state of Montana. The office is not a ceremonial one. If the top law enforcement official doesn’t adhere to the highest ethical and moral standards, the state will ultimately pay a huge price. Pam Bucy has shown that she does not hold herself to the level of accountability that the citizens of this state deserve and will presumably be held to.

Senator Alan Simpson put it another way:
“If you have integrity, nothing else matters. If you don’t have integrity, nothing else matters.”

Pam Bucy does not have integrity. She is not worthy of public office.

It matters. A lot.

8 thoughts on “Character Counts

  1. Oh, so I actually asked what was happening, and Pam, being a good mother of young children, was dealing with sick kids and doctors appointments on those days. So yes, there is a good reason for this. It’s not a lack of integrity, it’s the fact that it’s 1) no one’s business but Pam’s family’s, and 2) not something that a timesheet should ever disclose. If there was a problem with this, and the story was brought up by the media, her supervisor was not only aware of the issue, it was already noted internally as it should be.

    This post should be taken down or redacted, especially because you are a mother and know exactly how often unplanned sickness of kids looks like something completely different to outsiders.

  2. And if you’re buying that story Kevin, I have a bridge to sell you. I will submit that the first example destroys the assertion of “sick kids”. She claimed 8 hours of sick leave – a full day- and posted on FB that at least part of that workday was spent campaigning. If that was indeed the situation, she could have claimed part of the time (the part that she actually spent with her sick kids) as SLT and the rest as vacation leave taken (VLT).

    State employees are given generous vacation and sick leave benefits, but there are specific policies that govern the appropriate use of each. Sick leave cannot be taken for time that is spent on political activities. And Pam is smart enough to know this. If her supervisor was aware of this and approved her time as submitted, knowing that ir was false, the supervisor could also be subject to disciplinary action.

    The post stays. Your hearsay is not sufficient to refute the evidence as submitted.

  3. On May 24, 2012, Pam Bucy announced on Facebook that she gave an interview with National Public Radio at the Lewis and Clark County Courthouse. So unless NPR chose to conduct the interview after business hours, she did that interview during work hours. In fact, the county courthouse is likely closed after business hours. (The interview aired on May 25, http://www.mtpr.org/podcast_feed/4.)

    The same day, Pam announced on Facebook that she “Had a great time talking with local Democratic leaders and activists over our party’s statewide weekly conference call.” Who knows when the call was, but most business conference calls are scheduled during work hours.

    She recorded her time that day as 8 sick hours. So according to her time sheet, every single business hour, she was being paid by the state for sick leave. From her own statements, it seems very likely that she was actually involved in partisan politics during those eight hours.

  4. I wonder if Helena operates like the many federal offices that dot our countryside. I have often challenged, “call any federal office in your hometown after 3:30 M – Th, or after 1:00 on Friday, and see who is there.” In my experience, federal offices are all empty by 3:30, unless there is a dignitary around. And Friday afternoon? Fahgettaboutit!

    Most federal employees (who are paid at least double what they would be in private jobs) work about 30 to 33 hours per week. They start at around 9:00 and usually the phone receptionist is the only person there after 3:30, everybody else is “away from his desk” or “out of the office”.

    Try my experiment with a local federal office some time. I have done it many times. I hope state offices aren’t that bad – are they?

  5. Each agency takes on the culture of its head. If the boss is in the office at 8 (or before) the worker bees will be too. The boss ducks out early, the underlings find reasons to leave before quittin’ time too. If the management staff is committed to customer service, the grunts will deliver customer service.

    And that’s kinda the point of this post. The boss determines the ethics, the integrity, and the culture of the whole agency. A leader who cheats begets an agency that cheats.

  6. Didn’t Bucy make some high minded complaint about the AG office is so important that they should never accept contributions from someone who the AG has prosecuted? Seems as though her high mindedness only applies when it’s in her favor.

  7. Why did Pam Bucy cover up union corruption in the recent $250.000.00 butte central labor council/pipe fitters case? Why has Bucy not disclosed her conflict of interest with IOUE local 400 anf union corruptIon.

    • Bill – Tell me more about this. I’m really starting to discover Ms. Bucy’s ethics are questionable at best. The voters need to know.

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