Before we get into the meat of some concerning personnel changes at the Cascade County Clerk and Recorder’s office, we need to remind ourselves that hiring political cronies and firing or harassing people because they worked for political opponents is illegal. Got that?
Senior Election Administrator Leaves Merchant’s Office
Since defeating long-time Clerk and Recorder Rina Moore by a mere 31 votes, Sandra Merchant has begun remaking the office to fit her conspiracy-laced agenda. First, Election Supervisor Lynn Deroche, who has worked in the Clerk and Recorder’s office for 16 years, has taken another job in county government at a much lower salary. It’s not clear whether she resigned or was fired. Deroche said that she provided notice that she was resigning after being frozen out of interoffice communication by Merchant.
As an example, Deroche said she was not allowed to participate in interviews to fill an open election specialist position, a position she supervised. Deroche said that after a month of being isolated in the office and just three days before she was scheduled to leave her position, Merchant asked her to explain how to conduct some up-coming elections. Deroche says she told Merchant three days was not enough time to teach Merchant how to administer an election. Some time later Deroche says she was summoned to the Human Resources Office and told she did not need to return to the Clerk and Recorder’s office but would still receive her last couple of days’ pay. End result is that the election supervisor job has been left vacant.
New Election Specialist – Connection to Merchant and Commissioner Grulkowski
In the meantime, interviews proceeded to fill an elections specialist position in the office. There was an applicant who was already in a temporary position in the office. She subsequently withdrew her application. The job was listed with the County Human Resource Office. County Commissioner Rea Grulkowski and Sandra Merchant were interviewers. Grulkowski, who also came into office in the last election, is an election denier who’s bizarre conspiracy theories were the subject of a New York Times article in October of 2021. (WTF 406 covered Grulkowski’s conspiracy theories and the New York Times piece in a previous article https://wtf406.com/2022/09/facts-no-match-for-fear-in-county-commission-race/ )
When the election specialist interview process was completed, the position was given to Devereaux Biddick. WTF406 has previously written about Biddick’s participation in the election denier group active in Cascade County. Last fall we reported, “On July 29 County Commission candidate Rae Grulkowski was back in front of the County Commission, this time presenting a letter from Devereaux Biddick. In this letter Biddick alleged that the county primary election did not conform to standards set by the Secretary of State. She requested two precincts be ‘reviewed for reconciliation.’”https://wtf406.com/2022/09/the-big-lie-in-cascade-county/
The election specialist job which Biddick received has starting pay of almost $40,000 per year and includes a full benefit package. The qualification statement for the position included a High School Diploma, GED or HSE, and three years of progressively responsible office experience in a team environment that preferably includes one year in an election-related environment and one year of legal experience and terminology.
WTF406 does not have access to Biddick’s application materials yet, but we would certainly hope that her experience dogging county officials with election fraud mythology was not included as “relevant” experience for the elections specialist position. That would be kind of like putting a flat earther in charge of NASA.
Is This Just the Beginning?
The fact is that recently elected County Commissioner Grulkowski and Clerk and Recorder Merchant, who have worked extensively together on their election denier mythology prior to being elected, have now offered a full-time permanent position to a friend of theirs who worked on the same effort. Biddick could be just the beginning of Sandra Merchant’s opportunities to move her cronies from the election denier crowd into government jobs at the Clerk and Recorder’s Office. The election supervisor job will be open thanks to Deroche’s resignation. In addition, the office has traditionally hired additional temporary employees to help during the election cycle.
We began this article by pointing out that this kind of cronyism is illegal. Specifically, the Governmental Code of Fair Practices prohibits discrimination in government employment based on political beliefs. If any of the unsuccessful applicants for the position decided to file a complaint under that law and won, we would all get to pay for the insider dealing of our newly elected county officials. We’ll stay tuned and keep watching.