Fired Montana Tourism Director Files Lawsuit

By Beacon Staff

HELENA – Montana’s former tourism director who was fired last summer has filed a lawsuit in federal court contending her civil rights were violated.

Betsy Baumgart filed the suit Thursday in U.S. District Court in Missoula, arguing the state’s Commerce Department violated her First Amendment rights by firing her for political reasons.

She is seeking monetary damages for wrongful discharge, emotional distress, and humiliation. She is also seeking punitive damages and attorney fees.

The Great Falls Tribune reports that Baumgart in the lawsuit contends her affiliation with the Republican Party was a factor in her firing.

A department spokeswoman declined to comment.

A hearings examiner last month upheld the Commerce Department’s firing of Baumgart, ruling the agency had just cause.