Former Lawmaker Leaving Post as Public Service Commission Director

Brad Tschida is the utility regulation agency’s second executive director in the two years since the position was created

By Arren Kimbel-Sannit, Montana Free Press

Former Missoula GOP lawmaker Brad Tschida is leaving his post as executive director of the Montana Public Service Commission, a commission spokesperson confirmed to Montana Free Press Friday. 

Tschida, who served in his role for about eight months, was the commission’s second executive director in as many years. He plans to step down in September said the spokesperson, PSC Chief Legal Counsel Lucas Hamilton. The five-member commission regulates and sets rates for Montana utility companies. 

Reached by phone Friday, Tschida said he wasn’t leaving for any particular reason, and that a release with more information would be coming in the next few days.

The PSC created executive director position in 2021 in the fallout of a blistering legislative audit that highlighted an “an unhealthy organizational culture and ineffective leadership,” sloppy accounting, improper travel and an attempt by a commission staffer to provide auditors with falsified records. That and other changes would help improve the “tone and tenor at the top” of the commission and set it on a “glide path to success,” newly elected PSC President James Brown said at the time. Brown did not serve on the commission during the time span covered by the audit. 

The executive director acts as a chief of staff for the commission, participating in staff hiring, budgeting, managing caseload and other administrative functions, Hamilton said. The director is also tasked with carrying out PSC policies and initiatives “according to state law, administrative procedures, and applicable regulations,” per the commission’s website.

The first director was former Townsend schools superintendent Erik Wilkerson, who left the commission shortly before the 2023 legislative session to take over as the superintendent of the Jefferson High School district. 

Hamilton said that Tschida had always planned to serve as director in a “transitional” capacity to get the commission through the legislative session. Tschida, who served four terms in the Montana House before losing a race for a Senate seat, is a Republican hardliner who has spearheaded claims of election fraud in Missoula County. 

“It is a demanding job with a significant amount of internal and external pressure,” PSC member Jennifer Fielder said in a press release at the time of Tschida’s hiring. “We needed someone with the right mix of professional skills who is also capable of shouldering those types of demands. Mr. Tschida is very well-qualified with his legislative leadership experience and diverse background in management, finance, education, and public policy spanning over 40 years.”  

A posting for the position is already on the PSC’s website. The full-time job includes benefits and pays a minimum $90,000 annual salary. 

This story originally appeared in the Montana Free Press, which can be found online at montanafreepress.org.