BILLINGS - A day after a Gazette public information request showed he wrote a racial slur in an email, Yellowstone County Treasurer Max Lenington apologized for using the "N-word" — but even so, at least one county commissioner, the NAACP and others are calling for his resignation.

“It’s very, very disappointing that an elected official in our community would go to these extremes … as a member of this community, I would ask that he resign and move on,” County Commissioner Bill Kennedy, a Democrat, said of Lenington, the Republican Yellowstone County treasurer, assessor and superintendent of schools.

“It was not for public consumption. I do apologize,” Lenington said Friday of the email in question, which he sent using his government email account.

In the Nov. 13, 2012, email, Lenington wrote that President Barack Obama must have been re-elected because “... there are more lesbians, queers, Indians, Mexicans and n— than the rest of us!” (The Gazette has chosen not to completely reproduce the word that Lenington wrote.)

Thursday night he defended his use of the racial epithet by saying, “you’ve got to get out with the real people because you’ll see that people still use that word periodically. This is Montana ... this isn’t Chicago, this isn’t Washington.”

Rosemary Lytle, president of the Colorado, Montana and Wyoming conference of the NAACP, condemned Lenington’s words and called for his resignation.

“We know that ultimately, no matter who uses it, it’s always an insult,” she said of the N-word. “It always torments, just as it always has tormented African Americans and people of African descent in this country.”

She went on to say that Montanans, no matter their race or ethnicity, should feel insulted and rise against Lenington’s characterization of Montana as a state where such language is acceptable.

Eran Thompson, the head of Not in Our Town Billings, a grass-roots group formed in response to local hate crimes in the early 1990s, also called for Lenington’s resignation.

“Enough is enough ... I can’t believe that he thinks that little of our community,” he said. “And shame on our community if we allow him to get away with it.”

Lenington, 69, said he first started working for the county as a deputy assessor in 1969 and was first elected to public office in 1982. Since then he has been re-elected numerous times.

He said he goes back to “the old days in the '50s,” and that his parents used the N-word when he was a kid, making it difficult for him to break the habit of using it as well. Even so, he claimed, he has never used the word in public.

Thursday night he said he planned to serve out the rest of his current term in office, which ends Dec. 31, 2014.

When asked Friday afternoon if he had any plans to resign, Lenington said he is waiting to be advised by the Yellowstone County Attorney’s Office and by the Yellowstone County commissioners before making a decision.

Jim Reno and John Ostlund, the two Republican Yellowstone County Commissioners, both said Lenington’s words are unacceptable and that he at the very least needed to apologize.

The Yellowstone County Republican Party also denounced the official’s email.

“Mr. Lenington's language is repugnant, and his attempts to justify it are unacceptable. That kind of intolerance does not reflect the values of Yellowstone County,” Jennifer Owen, chair of the Yellowstone County Republicans said in a statement. “As an elected official, Mr. Lenington ought to be a model of civil discourse. Resorting to slurs and epithets like these is beneath the dignity of public office.”

County Attorney Scott Twito said Friday his office is investigating whether Lenington’s actions constitute official misconduct or if Lenington violated his oath of office as an elected official.

If so, a petition outlining Lenington’s misconduct could send the issue to voters, who would have the option of recalling him from office.

The civil division of the County Attorney’s Office could have a report on their investigation done by the end of next week, Twito said.

The Gazette’s public information request turned up dozens of questionable emails sent from Lenington's government account, including more racially charged forwards in which he indicated his agreement. The request also uncovered more than 30 emails over several months about Lenington's purchase of a customized Triumph motorcycle from a company in Iowa, which could violate the county’s email policy.

Sunday’s Gazette will feature a closer look at those emails and more on the legal process that could lead to Lenington's removal from office.

More from missoulian.com

(42) comments

NoturAverageBear

Today's conservatism: stupid and proud of it!

No rational adult can justify this kind of behavior.

glacierdude

Right you are. Obama does it by making completely ignorant comments as he did when Dr.Gates was insulted by the Cambridge police because they caught him breaking in to his own home. Gates pushed the race button, of course and then the head racist in charge, Barack Hussein Obama advised us all how stupid the police were before he knew the whole story. Remember? Beergate at the rose garden at the Whitehouse? Sorry! Screwed up again. Oh, but wait.....Then there was Trayvon Martin....remember how stupid the police were then and how Trayvon was like his own son. Remember all that? Then there's you, NoturAverageBear........Today's conservatism, stupid and proud of it. Are you swallowing your tongue yet??? You should.

NoturAverageBear

Right wing propaganda should come with a warning label like alcohol, tobacco, or drug abuse: This propaganda will cause a "Demented Sense of Reality!" As is evident here.

Objective observer

No kidding NoturAverageBear!

lightninsam
lightninsam

Just suppose Obama had lost, and a public servant blamed it on homophobic, racist bible-thumpers------ The cons. here would think that's OK?

Atheist Educator
Atheist Educator

lightninsam, they are already on it with their ranting about the "War on Christianity" nonsense.

Run - A- Mook

@lit
mind running that past me one more time

glacierdude

Didn't happen. Doesn't matter.

Chewy

Putting other issues aside this guy should be fired for being a moran (isn't that how the teabaggers spell it?). Seriously, who would be dumb enough to type such a variety of bigoted slurs on a government computer. I sure would not want this dolt handling the financial affairs of my community. His bigoted attitude toward other minorities is just as disgusting as his racist attitude.

PelosiGalore
PelosiGalore

Odd how the Missoulian freely allows racist slurs to be published in this comment section daily, yet automatically edits them out for one single race. I have also never seen the Missoulian refer to a rap album as racist, or label racists orginizations such as the United Negro College fund, or the NAACP for the racism that they were created to practice. Funny how liberals think that only certain races can be racist and that racial slurs are acceptable when aimed at one race, but not when aimed at another. This is why liberals are the biggest racists of all. I am also amazed by the hundreds of times the Missoulian has labled people "homophobic" but not once have they labeled someone "heterophobic."

Atheist Educator
Atheist Educator

PG, if you don't understand it, you are part of the problem.

Kahlotus

And you wonder why the Democrats keep winning elections. It's precisely comments and attitudes like yours and Max Lenington's that drive middle of the road folks away from voting Republican. You are your own worst enemy.

PelosiGalore
PelosiGalore

You two missed the fact that I never defended this guys actions. You also didn't bother to counter any of the points that I made. And no, I don't wonder why liberals keep winning elections. Stupid people will always vote for Santa Claus. Are education system is a liberal dunk tank where we soak our kids for their formative years. It is why people tend to get more conservative as they gain real world experience and move away from liberal theories. People today know more about the Kardashians and Miley Cyrus than they do about our country. Hell, we have a president who believes we have 57 states and that you pronounce the "P" in "corpseman." I don't support anyone using the "N" word. But your phony outrage is just that, phony, until you learn how to be outraged by all ethnic slurs. And BTW Kahlotus, Romney won more independents than Obama, so you might want to lecture an actual elected offical about driving away middle of the road folks. Facts are a tricky thing. But in liberal world theories always trump facts, as the stupendous magnitude of Obama's incompotence continures to demonstrate.

monstermaker

Of 13 comments on this story, four support a guy who, if nothing else, is misusing state computers. I'll never wonder why the rest of the world stereotypes us. In situations like this, do us all a favor and keep your opinions to yourselves.

stalker

The Tea Party wants to reduce federal spending and follow the constitution!? Yeah, OK, right... Anyway, this guy is no doubt a career fascist & a lifelong racist. It's one thing to speak out against the president or the current administration but how old are we now!?

LBS2010

2 points to consider when you get your head out of your behind--

1- "The Yellowstone County Republican Party also denounced the official’s email.

“Mr. Lenington's language is repugnant, and his attempts to justify it are unacceptable. That kind of intolerance does not reflect the values of Yellowstone County,” Jennifer Owen, chair of the Yellowstone County Republicans said in a statement. “As an elected official, Mr. Lenington ought to be a model of civil discourse. Resorting to slurs and epithets like these is beneath the dignity of public office.” His own party does not stand behind him, rather denounces his status as a public servant.

2- No where ind the article does it say he has ties to the Tea Party, not imply that the Tea Party supports or condones such behavior.

Nice demonstration of how your "progressive thinking" is a total crock. I haven't yet figured out how this article addresses federal spending and the constitution. The mindset displayed on these comment threads is indicative of the mentality that is crippling our nation and progressively crumbling from within.

Run - A- Mook

Wake me when it's over.

Groggy

I am sorry, the thing that bothers me the most is, all those who use racial slurs on the internet / face book, and whatever means, in a way to call him a black man, or African American, or worse yet, the " n" word, have failed to realize, he is as much white as black, hello ?????? one parent white, one black, whether a drop of blood or percentage doesn't class a person's race to one ethnicity. Seriously ? Some of you may be pretty surprised if you were dig up your family's " woodpile" and found other races mixing in, then what would you say ? on what grounds would you spew your hatred ? sad day some of you aren't smart enough to realize the reason of being different from you is a reason to hate some, applies in both directions !

yunfei

The people who say this guy should be "tarred and feathered' are no better than him. Also, it is interesting to see the liberal jump at the chance to smear the conservative Republicans, including the Tea Party, whose sin is that they want to reduce federal spending and follow the constitution. HOW DARE THEM!

Atheist Educator
Atheist Educator

So, we have Lenington and Cebull but let's not forget the head of the Yellowstone County GOP chairwoman and what she did:

Yellowstone GOP chairwoman won't seek re-election; posted racist Obama image

Rez Kid

WOW.. if you show a watermelon and Obama in the same picture you are a racist or hate monger. I remember all the nasty pictures and captions of Bush.. thousands...and no one ever complained. But if you are a half white - half black President, watch out. Anything said that is not liked by the left about our dear President will be used to call you a racist, bigot, hate monger, etc. It's a one way street for the hypocrites on the left. Get over it!!

Objective observer

No. It's simply this. You call the President the n-word and you are a racist. Or blacks who voted for him. Got it?

So let me get this straight. You're actually defending this language?
"In the Nov. 13, 2012, email, Lenington wrote that President Barack Obama must have been re-elected because “ … there are more lesbians, queers, Indians, Mexicans and n——— than the rest of us!”

Rez Kid

If this loser were a Democrat or a black man, this story would have never been released.

ouch

Right on, Commissioner. Nothing wrong with a person who speaks for what is on their mind rather than being politically correct. Gotta call a spade a spade, (which is also an old saying, not related to race.)

Objective observer

And I'm calling a racist a racist.

"Nothing wrong with a person who speaks for what is on their mind "

Let me translate that for you: Nothing wrong with being a racist.

lightninsam
lightninsam

ouch ---" Nothing wrong with a person who speaks for what is on their mind rather than being politically correct. Gotta call a spade a spade"--Ok, will you do that? Your comment paints you as a racist homophobe, that cannot be denied, you canNOT be blind to the ignorance and hate in that guys comment and not be a racist homophobe, ...Are you? I do agree with you, I have much, much more respect for those that have the integrity to express their true beliefs than those that hide behind PC....... " he claimed, he has never used the word in public"--Do you..

dsrobins

Why are so many public officials in Billings so racist and corrupt? Remember that judge named Cebull who emailed racist jokes about Obama. Clearly, the county treasurer in Yellowstone County has proven himself to be another racist bigot. Remove him from office immediately.

Deanne
Deanne

He needs to be tarred and feathered! Unfortunately I know Obama's racial status as our President is an elephant in the room in so many areas of this country. The GOP- Tea Party may have started out with high intentions of lowering taxes but now there is an underlying current of bigotry fraught in their party. They just can't stand to have a bi-racial man in the White House who looks so black. Their political party has always had the leadership of the southern, old, rich white men and now because of the still real racism in the south many Tea Party constituents have joined up as a faction of the Republican Party. When interviewed during one of their election rally's, most of them didn't even know what they were fighting against beside trying to sink the Obama presidency. The Black bigotry is only a apart of this. In the Nov. 13, 2012, email, Lenington wrote that President Barack Obama must have been re-elected because “ … there are more lesbians, queers, Indians, Mexicans and n——— than the rest of us!” (The Gazette has chosen not to completely reproduce the word that Lenington wrote.)`- Gazette. People! There is NO excuse for hatred among the races in this country yet it constantly rears it's ugly head. The US Constitution says, We are all created equal or haven't you read it. You should, it's an important part of your everyday life.

jus wundrin
jus wundrin

Then how do you explain Alan Keyes, Herman Cain, and Alan West?

"When interviewed during one of their election rally's, most of them didn't even know what they were fighting against beside trying to sink the Obama presidency."

Can you source this? Im sure its gotta be on Youtube, right? Are you sure you werent watching some goofballs from an OWS rally? Ive seen em, and I can source it.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MWfGKt0aZLI

glacierdude

I am so sorry, Ms Deanne but there is no place in the US Constitution where it states that all men are created equal. Your accusation of the letter writer falls on deaf ears when the accusations are without foundation. As for the "All men are created equal".........take a hard look at The Gettysburg Address by one Mr. Abraham Lincoln. It's hard to take you seriously when you accuse others of not reading something when you obviously have not read it yourself.

Objective observer

Glacierdude: Take a hard look at the first sentence of the second paragraph of the Declaration of Independence.

"Your accusation of the letter writer falls on deaf ears when the accusations are without foundation. "

I suppose that 'Barack Obama must have been re-elected because “ … there are more lesbians, queers, Indians, Mexicans and n——— than the rest of us!”' is not evidence of racial bigotry? Only in your warped mind!

VictimsAdvocate

What an embarrassment to the state of Montana. This man should be escorted from the building and fired on the spot. Period.

Amabo

Resign NOW! No, you are wrong! We do NOT TALK THIS WAY IN MONTANA! Get lost!

zena

Very well said. I never heard racial slurs in my parents home. It was not allowed/Has nothing to do with political parties. Also. the part many do not mention is he did all this on his work computer, which is an offense that gets many fired. Stand up for the real Montanans, and demand this bigot resign. Not a political thing, just a human thing

Peggy Cain

Readneck

This was not a private slip of the tongue. He wrote it on his government email account. The Republican party has turned completely to the dark side if it supports this bigoted loser.

John P Weber
John P Weber

It does not matter whether one's parents used the n word when that idiot Yellowstone county official was a kid or not. As a adult man he has the capability to know much better and he should have learned 30 years ago that the n word was not acceptable. And since I am also an openly gay man, I find it offensive that he thinks our president was elected in the manner he stated.. he is just another bigot trying to portray himself as if he were a human, which he is not. he should either resign and lose all accrued benefits or retire and lose all his benefits. he is not man enough to be worthy. he has however shown Billings just how much a lot of republicans are bigots.

glacierdude

Get lost, Weber. You are an absolute dork!

zena

Hate statements on his work computer, and you are defending him? Really?

Peggy Cain

glacierdude

Peggy,

Obama made hate statements towards the Cambridge police when they attempted to arrest Dr. Gates for breaking into his own home and then made hateful comments once again when Trayvon Martin, the thug's thug, earned his early dirt nap. Now you attack me for showing some support for this fool in Billings? Peggy, have you even taken a moment to consider the severity of the retribution being threatened??? Have you?? Yeah, he's a fool, but tar and feathers? You need to pick your battles more carefully if you want to be mayor.

Objective observer

And glacierdude doubles down by deflecting with some made up facts:

"Obama made hate statements towards the Cambridge police when they attempted to arrest Dr. Gates for breaking into his own home and then made hateful comments once again when Trayvon Martin, the thug's thug, blah blah racist blah..."

Objective observer

You are actually defending this guy saying this:
I"n the Nov. 13, 2012, email, Lenington wrote that President Barack Obama must have been re-elected because “ … there are more lesbians, queers, Indians, Mexicans and n——— than the rest of us!” "

That says an AWFUL LOT about YOU, glacierracist.

Realitychk

You sir, are a disgrace to the state! You are fired!

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