HELENA – Gov. Steve Bullock said Friday night that departing Lt. Gov. Angela McLean’s perceived frustrations with the role of lieutenant governor were "disruptive."
In a statement to Lee Newspapers, Bullock said: "This happens every day in businesses across the country, where the fit just isn’t right. Angela is smart and ambitious, but seemed frustrated with the role of lieutenant governor, and that was disruptive to our work for Montana. But I have no doubt that she has talents that will serve the Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education well."
Emails between Bullock and McLean that were released to MTN News late this week detail the rocky relationship between Bullock's administration and the departing lieutenant governor.
Those emails were also requested by, but not released to, Lee Newspapers. Attempts to reach Bullock’s chief legal counsel, Andy Huff, who earlier acknowledged receiving Lee’s request, at the Capitol on Friday were not successful, nor were attempts to work with Bullock’s staff Friday to get the documents.
On Nov. 30, state officials announced McLean was leaving her job to become the director of American Indian and minority achievement and K-12 partnerships in the Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education. She starts that job Jan. 4.
Bullock is now searching for a new lieutenant governor. Whoever he picks will be the third person to fill that role. Bullock appointed his first lieutenant governor, John Walsh, to fill a U.S. Senate seat vacated by Max Baucus, who became ambassador to China.
Walsh, made an incumbent by the appointment, later dropped out of the Senate race when it was found he plagiarized a paper he submitted to the War College.
When it was announced McLean was leaving the lieutenant governor position, Bullock said the departure was the result of her seizing on an opportunity to work on education issues and that she wasn’t being forced out so Bullock could pick a new running mate for the 2016 election.
In a statement to Lee Newspapers on Friday, McLean said, "I loved every part of my job as lieutenant governor. I worked hard every day and in every part of the state to advocate for my fellow Montanans and earn the salary they paid me."
But according to the MTN report, emails between Bullock and McLean reveal a deteriorating relationship – and a situation in which McLean was frozen out of Bullock's inner circle and given essentially nothing to do.
“Following our meeting, I received a call from (staffer) Dave Parker whereby he asked me to imagine a workplace if I stayed in my post, but the governor took away my initiatives and my ability to serve the citizens of Montana,” an Oct. 2 email from McLean to Bullock read, MTN reported.
MTN reported emails showed that shortly thereafter, McLean was locked out of her lieutenant governor Twitter account and her meetings with the governor were canceled.