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County attorney says investigation under way

 

By Michael Howell

Before the County Commissioners could hold their meeting to discuss instituting an investigation into treasurer Valerie Stamey’s allegations made public at an update meeting last Tuesday, January 21, County Attorney Bill Fulbright had already instituted his own investigation. He told the commissioners on Thursday that their decision to undertake what may appear to be the same investigation was “administratively awkward.” He told them that it was not necessary for the board to take a position on it.

“I’m taking this action out of the office of the county attorney and the elected county auditor,” said Fulbright. “Because these are accusations that have a component that involves members of the board, I want to make sure that the board is not involved in directing the investigation, deciding who is doing it, or anything.”

The commissioners all concurred that they were in agreement with his action.

Michael Howell, publisher of the Bitterroot Star, asked Fulbright if his investigation would include the allegations by the newspaper that the treasurer had violated state law and that those violations might amount to official misconduct.

Fulbright told the commissioners that his investigation would be comprehensive and include looking into all allegations, including Mr. Howell’s. He said that Stamey’s statement would be the starting point of the investigation.

“It’s like someone calling and saying someone broke into their house,” said Fulbright. He said the investigation could have a criminal component and also some allegations involving county policy.

“We will make some determination about what is fact and what is speculation,” he said.

He said his office was currently in the process of looking for the most appropriate investigative agency.

Commissioner Greg Chilcott wondered how the commissioners’ investigation, based on their supervisory duties, would dovetail with the county attorney’s investigation.

Fulbright said the investigation his office was instituting in terms of an audit would be comprehensive and thorough. He said it would provide the kind of information the commission might be looking for as well.

Chilcott said that they were also looking at some of their statutory obligations related to the Bitterroot Star’s allegations.

“They would be pertinent to us,” said Chilcott.

2 Responses to County attorney says investigation under way
  1. Bill laCroix
    January 29, 2014 | 7:00 pm

    Fulbright is himself guilty of financial shenanigans which led to a default of payment of hundreds of thousands of dollars in the form of a bankruptcy before he was elected on the wing nut ticket of 2010 (this includes the first of three clueless treasurers) that should have ethically disqualified himself for the job of county attorney. He’s not done his job well since then, and should not be trusted to do a good job with this. Expect a cover-up or an obfuscation from this quarter. Given how these people have been behaving since they took office, what else can we expect? Sorry all you “fair and balanced” folks, but anyone who voted for these people owe everyone who didn’t a deep and sincere apology. That’s the place to start fixing this.

  2. Ed Harrison
    January 29, 2014 | 2:40 am

    I am afraid that if the County Attorney gets to call the shots, it could be the first step in a whitewash of a problem that the County Commissioners and other folks involved in county government/ administration created. I would like for someone outside of the county to come in and look at what is going on here. The citizens of Ravalli County deserve better government and better handling of their tax dollars. I understand a zero-defect mentality that might drive some folks’ decisions in the short term because I served in the military for 20 years, but you HAVE SIMPLY GOT TO BE KIDDING ME to think that anything associated with this Treasurer’s Office debacle is indicative of good government in Ravalli County. That’s why I think we need outside eyes on the problem. I think that a state agency should investigate the Ravalli County Treasurer’s Office. I don’t think that Ms Stamey’s office is necessarily a “crime scene” as her letter suggested, but it is surely a Fiscal Super Fund site.

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