Missoula City Councilor Reports Levy Flier to Political Practices
Missoula, MT (KGVO-AM News) - Missoula City Councilor Sandra Vasecka has filed a complaint with the Montana Commissioner of Political Practices over a flier that was mailed out to thousands of Missoula County residents in support of the Crisis Services Levy.
KGVO News reached out to Vasecka who explained her actions.
She Believes the Mailer was Improper because it was not just Informational
“There was a Crisis Services Mill Levy mailer that the city and the county sent out,” began Vasecka. “It was a green mailer that went to over 40,000 households in Missoula County, and you are allowed to send with taxpayer dollars. You’re allowed to send out a mailer if it's informational only as long as it's not for the levy or in opposition to the levy. You can't be biased either way.”
Vasecka said, in her opinion, the mailer was definitely biased toward the passage of the $5.5 million per year levy.
She said the Mailer Cost over $20,000 in Postage
“This mailer was obviously in support of the levy and was not just informational,” she said. “So I did file a complaint with the (Commissioner) of political practices. I filed a complaint against Missoula city and the county because it was over $20,000 of our taxpayer dollars that was sent out that was used for with folks that may not be in support of the levy and I think that that is inappropriate and illegal use of our taxpayer dollars, and I want those funds to be reimbursed.”
Vasecka said she received informational comments from Missoula Mayor Jordan Hess.
“Seeing when I first saw the mailer, I reached out to Mayor (Jordan) Hess and told him I was frustrated about it,” she said. “He was very quick to give me the numbers and very quick to let me know how much time was allocated towards it, and has not given me any pushback. So he's working really well with me. I'm not holding a grudge against anyone in particular. I just want to make sure that the money goes where it's supposed to go.”
Vasecka said she has done her Part in Filing the Complaint
Vasecka said she feels she has done her fiduciary duty for the citizens of Missoula city and county.
“I just wanted to bring awareness to the proper authorities and in this case, the proper authority is the Commissioner of Political Practices,” she said. They will follow Montana Code Annotated and do whatever disciplinary action or reimbursement that is in the state code, and it is all up to them. I just brought awareness to it in a very formal manner and that's all I can do.”
Read the language of the mailer from the photos in the story.
Vasecka said fellow Missoula City Councilor Daniel Carlino, who is in favor of the levy, was in agreement with turning the matter over to the Commissioner of Political Practices.
KGVO also reached out to City of Missoula Communications Director Ginny Merriam for a statement from Mayor Hess. He provided the following.
“The City and County sent an informational mailer to help voters make an informed decision about the Crisis Services Levy," Hess said. "While we believe the mailer was appropriate, we’ll fully cooperate with the Commissioner of Political Practices as this complaint is resolved.”
KGVO will provide more information about this situation when it becomes available.