In an unprecedented move, Montana Secretary of State Christi Jacobsen weighed in on Cascade County’s hiring process to fill an open election administrator position.  The move by Jacobsen casts further doubt on the selection process in the County.  The action provides further evidence of the corruption and incompetence of Republicans in our state and county. has written extensively on the mess in the Clerk and Recorder’s office after Sandra Merchant was elected.  Due to Merchant’s incompetence, the county commission removed election duties from her office and began the process of hiring a qualified employee to administer elections.  Four finalists were interviewed by the three commissioners, and Terry Thompson was selected.  Two other candidates, Rina Moore and Lynn Deroche, were passed over despite having much more experience and training for the position. Each had approximately 16 years of experience administering elections.  WTF406 and others objected to the process, because Merchant’s crony Commissioner Rea Grulkowski participated in the selection process despite being directed by county resolution not to participate in decisions affecting the election office.

Now, thanks to excellent reporting by The Electric, we find out that Republican Secretary of State Christi Jacobsen weighed in on the hiring decision. Specifically, in an email from a state email account dated February 14th to county commissioners, Jacobsen wrote, “please do not hire Ms. Moore or a member of her administration as Cascade County’s Election Administrator. Doing so would directly undermine the voters of Cascade County, among other reasons.”

The  Electric followed up on the story after observing Merchant and Grulkowski going into the Secretary of State’s office on March 1st.  The Electric requested information from Merchant and Grulkowski about the reason for the meeting and whether public funds were used in their trip to Helena.  They did not respond.

County Commissioners Joe Briggs and Jim Larson both said that they were surprised by Jacobsen’s email but both added that it did not affect their decision, because it was a scored “structured” hiring process.  That may or may not be true, but Grulkowski also scored the applicants and her score alone was likely enough to jimmy the system in favor of Terry Thompson. And if we know anything about Rea Grulkowski, it is that she does whatever she pleases without regard for the rules and law.

So the liability for the county (and us taxpayers) continues to mount thanks to the arrogance of Grulkowski and her far right allies in their effort to control elections in Cascade County.  Both Rina Moore and Lynn DeRoche would have had strong political belief discrimination complaints before the Jacobsen email.  Now those complaints would be even stronger, and the state of Montana can also be brought into any legal action.