Supreme Court Upholds Firing of Tourism Director

Agency said director left millions of dollars unspent each year

By Molly Priddy

HELENA — The Montana Supreme Court has upheld the 2010 firing of a former state tourism director.

Elizabeth “Betsy” Baumgart served as administrator of the Montana Tourism and Promotion Division for eight years and received satisfactory or better performance reviews.

In August 2010, the new Department of Commerce director fired Baumgart. The agency said Baumgart left millions of dollars unspent each year, opening the possibility for the Legislature to revert that money to the state general fund.

She sued, arguing her firing was politically motivated. The Supreme Court rejected that argument and ruled Tuesday the budget issues were adequate grounds for firing.

Two justices dissented, saying only in the world of government budgeting can an employee who is achieving results and winning awards be fired for not spending enough of the government’s money to do so.


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