Westad fails to get recall petitioners arrested

 

Beaverhead County Attorney Jed Fitch said his office has decided not to pursue criminal charges against three Dillon citizens spearheading a drive to recall three City Councilpersons, despite being urged to do so by City Councilperson Lynn Westad in an affidavit she filed earlier this year with Beaverhead County.

In the affidavit, Westad insisted that Raymond Graham had committed fraud by misrepresenting his place of residence on several documents, including a recall petition for City Council President David Spehar that Graham began collecting signatures on this spring.

Westad also urged the county to bring charges against Edith Fletcher and Jude Davis, for allegedly aiding Graham with the alleged fraud.

Fletcher filed recall petitions last month for Ward 4 City Councilpersons Swede Troedsson and Derek Gore, who, like Spehar, almost always vote the same way as Westad on issues before the City Council.

Davis was collecting signatures for a recall petition on Westad when she fell ill earlier this summer and was forced to suspend her efforts.

Westad claimed Graham committed fraud by listing an address within the City of Dillon while actually living outside city limits.

She sent a letter on April 27 to Montana Secretary of State Linda McCullough, urging McCullough’s office to investigate Graham.

Fitch said McCullough told Westad to file an affidavit with Beaverhead County, which she did on May 14.

After investigating the matter with Dillon City Police Chief Paul Craft, Fitch said he concluded Graham had fulfilled the requirements of establishing his residency at 136 W. Bannack Street in Dillon, the address he has listed on his voter registration since 2005 and which he used when filing the recall petition on Spehar.

“My voter registration says I’m registered to vote at 136 W. Bannack and have been since 2005, legally,” Graham told the Tribune in response to Westad’s claims.

“The elections administrator in 2005 recognized it as my legitimate residence. The county attorney back then recognized it as my legal residence. The attorney general they took it to refused to throw me out and I was able to serve on the City Council for two years from that residence. The political practices commissioner accepted my residence. All of them accepted that almost ten years ago. And now certain members of the City Council are trying to bring it back up.

“Why do you think that is?” smiled Graham, who found out this week that Beaverhead County Clerk & Recorder Debra L. Scott determined he had collected enough signatures to trigger a recall on Spehar.