BILLINGS — The Yellowstone County treasurer, under fire for racist emails sent using his government email account, has offered to resign at the end of the year if the county will pay him the $90,000 he would have earned in 2014 if he completed his term.
Max Lenington made the offer to county commissioners in an email sent Friday. The proposal is on the agenda for the county commission's meeting on Tuesday.
Commissioner Jim Reno provided the Billings Gazette with a copy of the email.
Lenington, 69, recently came under public scrutiny after a Billings Gazette public information request revealed instances of him using his government email account to send messages that used derogatory terms for blacks and homosexuals.
Lenington's sister had forwarded him an email last year opposing Obama after his re-election. Lenington responded in an email that used derogatory terms for blacks and gays that he was baffled over the president's re-election, the Gazette reported on Nov. 1.
County Attorney Scott Twito has said his office was investigating whether a statement from the email amounted to grounds for holding a recall election.
"I feel that The Billings Gazette is censuring my First Amendment Rights as it pertains to my personal political opinions and dogma; however, I don't want to embarrass the Yellowstone County who I have faithfully served and whom I dearly love," Lenington wrote in his offer to commissioners.
"Buy out my last year of the term and I will submit a retirement letter effective Dec. 31, 2013," he wrote. "I will retire as gracefully as possible — you will have solved the problem."
The Gazette sought Lenington's emails after learning in August that he submitted a letter to the editor in June that included lines and ideas from another writer's column without giving credit. A conservative pundit accused Lenington of plagiarism, but did not pursue the issue.
In the letter to the editor, Lenington wrote, "the truth is I do hate the Obamas. I hate what they represent, their policies, their legislation and their ideology." That excerpt diverted from the other writer's column.