Gallagher Fires Back at PSC Leadership

By Beacon Staff

The first few months of the new Public Service Commission have been bumpy for Bill Gallagher, who was elected last year to represent the Flathead and Helena areas.

Gallagher was recently removed from his chairmanship on the five-member commission after Republican Travis Kavulla joined two Democrats in reprimanding him and Republican Brad Molnar for keeping secret Molnar’s travel to Washington, D.C. to observe a settlement conference.

Kavulla, who has taken over the chairmanship, also penned an op-ed piece with Democratic Commissioner Gail Gutsche, alleging that Gallagher and Molnar breached the public’s trust by the flying to the nation’s capital on taxpayer dollars when Molnar was “not among those designated to represent the commission at these settlement talks.”

On Friday, Gallagher fired back at the new PSC leadership, alleging that it is trying to silence him and Molnar by restricting them from “fully participating in the commission debates.”

Gallagher also claimed he and Molnar were “cleared of any wrongdoing in (the) PSC travel matter” because none of his colleagues could cite what rules the pair violated.

“Of course no violations were cited by any of the commissioners because there was no wrong doing” Gallagher wrote.

Here’s Gallagher’s press release in its entirety:

Two issues of notable interest in this week’s Public Service Commission meeting.

1) New Majority Takes Control.

After taking control of the PSC, the new majority, Kavulla, and the two Democrats Gutsche and Vincent moved quickly to pass new PSC procedural rules to increase the authority of the new

Chairman and give the three person majority authority to cut off Commission discussion.

Former Chairman, Bill Gallagher argued vigorously against the new rule stating that “the only purpose for the rule is to gag the minority and to prevent the full and open discussion of issues by the full Commission.”

Commissioner John Vincent likened the new rule to his father’s leather belt strap which was kept hanging on the wall. Not to be used often but as a deterrent.

The message from the new majority seems clear: Behave and be quiet and we won’t have to whip you with it.

Commissioner Molnar opposed the new rules noting that in his six years as a minority on the Commission he has never been cut off or restricted from fully participating in the Commission debates and fully representing his District.

Gallagher summed up his feelings stating: “The voters sent a clear message that they had enough of the environmentalist left. It’s bad enough that Kavulla has given the PSC majority right back to them but to then move to silence the voters voice by silencing the other Commissioners is inexcusable.

2) Former Chairman, Bill Gallagher and Commissioner Molnar cleared of wrong doing in PSC travel matter.

Former Chairman, Bill Gallagher requested and held this week a PSC work session asking the Commission to “Determine what, if any PSC procedural or other rule(s) or statute(s) may have been violated by Commissioners Gallagher and/or Molnar with regard to Commissioner Molnar’s travel to the March 29, 2011 FERC Settlement Conference.” It was Molnar’s FERC travel that precipitated the recent leadership coup at the PSC.

At the work session Gallagher posed the above question to the other Commissioners and the response was silence. According to Gallagher’s work session request, had any violation been raised, he requested an independent investigation.

Gallagher commented on the work session. “Of course no violations were cited by any of the Commissioners because there was no wrongdoing. The innuendo of wrongdoing was just a smoke screen to cover Kavulla and Gutsche using the ever-absent John Vincent’s proxy to accomplish their takeover of the PSC. My name has been cleared and I am satisfied with that.”