Stevensville Town Council member Dempsey Vick has filed an official complaint with the Commissioner of Political Practices against Mayor Brandon Dewey, claiming that Dewey has violated the law prohibiting a public employee “from soliciting support for or opposition to any political committee, the nomination or election of any person to public office, or the passage of a ballot issue while on the job or at the place of employment.” The law goes on to state, “However, subject to 2-2-121, this section does not restrict the right of a public employee to perform activities properly incidental to another activity required or authorized by law or to express personal political views.”
Vick states that Dewey called him in May and June to discuss running for town council as well as seeking appointment when a vacancy occurred in Ward 2.
“I was informed that he had done this same action with other candidates by Mason Buchanan (who was a candidate for Ward 1 appointment), and that he was asking people to run so the town could be run his way,” wrote Vick.
Vick claims that when he started his campaign, Dewey called him to his office to discuss campaign tactics and quotes Dewey as saying, “If you don’t run, then I will resign,” “If Jim Crews is placed on the council then Stevensville will go to hell in a handbasket,” and “Together we can work to make our lives easier here in Stevensville.”
Vick claims that in August, Dewey “attempted to sway my vote on the budget he had prepared and made the comment ‘if you and (council member) Patrick (Shourd) are prepared to pass this budget, then I will break the tie.’”
Vick states that, “Finally in October, in the presence of the Town Attorney Scott Owens [he spoke] to me pertaining to Economic development (conversation was due to Mayor Dewey sitting on the Main Street Association Board) He was asked if he would recuse himself as mayor during discussion and voting on the matching grant pertaining to the association, Dewey stated, ‘If I step back from the Mayor’s seat for this vote then how will it pass?’”
Montana Commissioner of Political Practices Jeff Mangan said that he initially received a complaint about Mayor Dewey of Stevensville that was determined to be an ethical complaint and not under his jurisdiction. He referred the complainant to either the local county attorney’s office or the local political ethics board if there was one as the proper jurisdiction.
Following that, he said, his office received the above referenced complaint last Friday. He said the new complaint appears to be more directly related to campaign finance laws and could be under his jurisdiction. The next step in the process, he said, is to determine if the referenced law is applicable to the claims being made and to seek a response from the mayor concerning the allegations.
“The complaint filed by Mr. Vick falls within the same category of antics deployed by former councilmembers, which is nothing more than an attempt to distract our citizens from the real issues in our community,” said Dewey when contacted by the Star. “The November 5th election has real potential to purge the personal agendas and demoralizing conduct that’s crippled Stevensville’s council for too long. I question Mr. Vick’s motives in lodging the complaint and his request to censure at the October 24th council meeting, neither of which hold any merit.
“Fundamentally, the complaint is frivolous and lacks any support. While the complaint alleges that I am an employee of the Town, both former and current City Attorneys have established that isn’t true. The meetings Mr. Vick refers to were informational for those seeking potential candidacy, including Mr. Vick. Those meetings in no way were to persuade or otherwise recruit any candidate for Town Council.”