Lieutenant Governor’s Emails Show Tension with Bullock Staff

Bullock's administration released hundreds of emails in response to records requests

By MATT VOLZ, Associated Press
Lt. Gov. Angela McLean speaks to the Rotary Club of Kalispell. Connor Welles | Flathead Beacon

HELENA — After the governor’s second in command vowed to stay in her position despite tension with her boss and his staffers, an administration official threatened to take away her policy initiatives, according to emails released in a public-records request.

Weeks later, Lt. Gov. Angela McLean applied for a job with the Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education. She announced last month that she would begin her new duties in January.

Gov. Steve Bullock’s administration released hundreds of emails in response to records requests by The Associated Press and other news organizations. They show the long-running tension and frustration between McLean, Bullock and members of his staff leading up to her announcement.

Bullock previously said McLean wasn’t the right fit and her frustration with the role of lieutenant governor was disruptive. He plans to appoint a new lieutenant governor — his third in three years — by the end of the month.

The tension seemed to come to a head after a Sept. 27 meeting between McLean, Bullock and the governor’s senior adviser, Dave Parker, and an Oct. 1 meeting with the governor. In the first meeting, Bullock and Parker said the governor did not believe McLean could be happy in her job, according to a message she sent from her private email account to Bullock’s private account on Oct. 2.

McLean told the governor in their Oct. 1 meeting that she believed the best path forward was to name her as his running mate in his 2016 re-election bid, she wrote. As far back as May, McLean tried to get Bullock to pick her for the ticket, according to another private email she sent to the governor.

Whomever he chose, she planned to stay on as lieutenant governor until December 2016, she wrote.

“I stated regardless of your running mate I am not leaving my post,” McLean said in the Oct. 2 email.

After the Oct. 1 meeting, Parker called McLean and told her to imagine a workplace if she stayed in her post, but Bullock took away her initiatives and her ability to serve the people of Montana, she wrote in the email.

Three days later, Parker told McLean that the governor wanted her in a “more traditional” lieutenant governor role and that her policy initiatives would be handled by other administration staff, she said in an Oct. 6 email to Bullock’s state email account.

Bullock and McLean did not speak for more than a month after the Oct. 1 meeting, according to a Nov. 10 McLean email.

Subsequent emails describe McLean being excluded from administration meetings, being locked out of her official Twitter account and having her appointments with Bullock canceled. They include reprimands by Chief of Staff Tracy Stone-Manning for tweeting about Denise Juneau’s U.S. House bid and for a lengthy introduction of Labor Secretary Thomas Perez during his Montana visit in October.

In late October, McLean applied to be the director of American Indian and minority achievement and K-12 partnerships. She announced on Nov. 30 that she had accepted the job.

McLean did not respond to a request for comment Tuesday. Bullock spokesman Tim Crowe did not address the content of the emails.