BILLINGS – One day after a high-ranking Office of Public Instruction hire drew criticism for social media comments attacking the sexual orientation of Democratic politicians, newly-elected Superintendent of Public Instruction Elsie Arntzen announced that he would not join her administration.
Randy Vogel, a retired Billings police officer and longtime GOP operative who most recently worked for U.S. Rep. Ryan Zinke, was initially appointed as senior policy adviser by Arntzen. Vogel has no professional background in education.
On Friday, Arntzen said that she was unaware of the comments Vogel made on his Facebook page in October criticizing the sexual orientation of outgoing Superintendent Denise Juneau and suggesting that Hillary Clinton was a lesbian. She called them "unprofessional" but said they wouldn't affect Vogel's employment status.
A press release sent out Saturday evening said that Vogel had decided to decline the position, "stating that he does not want his political background to hinder the Superintendent’s ability to serve students," according to the release.
Arntzen accepted the decision.
“My primary goal is to put Montana students first," she said in the release. "I thank Randy for his service as I prepare to take office, but as Superintendent I will be depoliticizing the Office of Public Instruction.”
The two posts Vogel made were criticized by the Montana Human Rights Network.
“Montana is not ready to send to Congress a self proclaimed female lesbian alcoholic, according to the Gazette,” says a post Vogel made on Oct. 17.
Another post about Clinton cites longtime Clinton aide Huma Abedin, a woman whose role gained prominence when the FBI reviewed a batch of her emails as part of an ongoing probe.
“The house of cards is falling, but remember, she's a snake, and has been called the Anti-Christ by a sitting Congressman,” reads a post from Oct. 29. “She won't go down easy. I still say that after the election she's going to dump the dead weight, as in Bill, and her and Huma will be a real 'thing.'”
Several other Arntzen appointees also had political experience. Sam Rubino, director of policy and planning, working as deputy political director for the Montana Republican Party. Susan Kohn, senior office administrator, worked as the constituent casework manager for U.S. Rep. Ryan Zinke. Dylan Klapmeier, federal policy director and media assistant, worked as an education liaison and field representative for U.S. Sen. Steve Daines.
Arntzen is slated by be sworn in on Monday.