Saturday, December 30, 2006

AP reports on state hiring of Walt Schweitzer's wife

While the Gazette has much interesting reading today, there is little to merit commentary on Montana Headlines.

As a change of pace, it was worth dipping into the AP headlines over at the online Bozeman Daily Chronicle. One learns that Cindy Palmer, "First Brother" Walt Schweitzer's wife, has been hired by Democrat Attorney General Mike McGrath for an unadvertised position in the Dept. of Justice.

She has experience as a teacher, but has no law enforcement experience. She will be heading up the Consumer Protection Office, which is described in the AP report as investigating "alleged violations of laws intended to protect Montana consumers from abusive businesses."

She replaces a non-political appointee who had come to the job with 25 years of criminal investigation experience, so this represents quite a shift.

It is safe to say that a majority of businesses in Montana have Republican or Republican-leaning owners. The Montana Chamber of Commerce is generally happier with the voting records of Republicans than it is of Democrats.

While Ms. Palmer may do an outstanding and fair job at her new position, it is a position where the selection, timing, and intensity of investigations of a business can be used to make life uncomfortable for politically active Republican businessmen.

Republicans had experience under the Clinton administration with things like the use of selective IRS audits and selective use of RICO investigations to harass some political opponents and Republican-friendly organizations.

Political appointees of either party who are appointed to positions like this bear monitoring, and one assumes that the Chamber of Commerce and the state GOP will do exactly that.