What someone does in their private life is none of my business, we all have our own character flaws, sins and foibles. But when a local public official lies, cheats and tries to cover up to avoid accountability then it is my business. It’s your business too, literally, because it directly affects you, your family and everyone else that lives in this community.
That’s why when I learned that Tracy Houck has filed to run for another term as a Great Falls city commissioner I was very troubled.
By way of a brief reminder here is the record and legacy left by Houck in her tenure so far as city commissioner.
- Lied to the public repeatedly about the status of her campaign finances. Lied to the local press repeatedly about the same.
- Lied to the Montana’s Commissioner of Political Practices in her official written responses to the COPP about the status of her campaign finances.
- Was found guilty and fined $1200 for violating Montana’s campaign finance laws.
- Attempted to deposit left over campaign funds into the bank account of her employer, Paris Gibson Square.
- Used her position as city commissioner to get a do-over and change Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funding decisions to benefit her employer, Paris Gibson Square.
- Was named by the federal Department of Housing and Urban development, along with Bill Bronson and Bob Kelly, as one of 16 Great Falls individuals engaging in intentional conflicts of interest surrounding the disbursement of CDBG funds.
- Had to be warned and reprimanded in a hand-delivered letter from the city attorney for her blatant conflicts of interest concerning CDBG funding.
- Was brought up on an ethics complaint in February and found to have been engaged in an appearance of an ethical violation surrounding the improper use of her commission Facebook page.
This list is not comprehensive, nor is it simply an outline of my opinion. These are all documented, readily provable facts.
In addition, these examples are not exaggerations of innocent clerical errors, naive missteps or as Mayor Kelly put it, “pettiness”. No, these are examples of intentional dishonesty and corruption by a local public official who is now asking us to vote for her again.
To add insult to injury, Houck has never owned up, asked the public she deceived for forgiveness, or admitted to her blatant dishonesty.
And while there was a small measure of accountability when she was found guilty and fined for violating campaign finance law, there has been zero accountability for her repeated lies to the public about that matter and zero accountability for her continuing corruption and self-serving dishonesty.
Here’s Houck’s chance to take responsibility and salvage what little integrity she has remaining. I’m asking her publicly to answer these three questions honestly and truthfully:
- Do you still swear that you twice sent amended C-1 forms to the Office of Political Practices during your first campaign, as you repeatedly promised the public and local press including in a Great Falls Tribune article by Jenn Rowell?
“Houck told the Tribune on Monday that she did send an amended (C-1) form in mid-July by mail (to the Office of Political Practices)…Houck said she used a copy of that form to open a campaign bank account in July.” Or were you lying to us?
- Did you intentionally and fraudulently backdate official COPP finance documents and submit them to the state in an attempt to cover up the lies you told as mentioned in question #1?
- Who rejected your failed attempt to deposit your leftover campaign contributions into your employers bank account, and why was that attempt rejected?
These three simple questions are the first of several more to come.
And I hope Ms. Houck remembers that I have copies of all the pertinent documents obtained through public records requests that prove the truth about these matters beyond doubt.
If Houck doesn’t answer, or answers less than truthfully, I’ll immediately make all of those documents widely available to the public. They speak for themselves.
In the meantime I urge all concerned citizens who care about the direction of our community to contact Houck and insist she answer these first three questions ASAP. Here’s her contact information:
Tracy Houck, 781-8958, email@example.com