Mayoral candidate Lisa Triepke — who touts her experience making ends meet during her divorce — bought a car and a motor home while on public assistance, as well as two houses, according to public records.
Thursday, in a terse phone call, Triepke said she was done commenting on this period of her life.
“I’m just gonna say that I have given you guys a lot of time, willingly and ably,” Triepke said. “I’ve probably done my last talking about these issues. It is what it is.”
Katherine Leonard, Triepke’s media contact at Spiker Communications, told the Missoulian on Wednesday that Triepke was unavailable, but was “open to being transparent,” about the issue.
The Missoulian reported Tuesday that public records showed Triepke bought two houses, one in Missoula and a rental property in Gulf Breeze, Florida, in the two months after her $300,000 divorce settlement was finalized in March 2016.
At the time, she was still receiving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Low Income Energy Assistance Plan (LIEAP) benefits.
After that report was published, the Missoulian was given records from the Montana Motor Vehicle Division showing that Triepke, in the wake of the divorce settlement, also titled and registered a 2007 Yamaha T25 motorcycle in late March and a 2010 hybrid Toyota Highlander and 2006 Dutchmen motor home in April.
Triepke said the motorcycle was hers as part of the divorce settlement, but said in an interview Thursday with KGVO radio that she bought the car and motor home, both of which were used.
All three vehicles are still registered in her name, according to the records provided by an attorney who identified himself as a supporter of Triepke’s opponent, incumbent Mayor John Engen.
During her campaign for mayor, Triepke has criticized the city of Missoula for wasteful spending and a failure to prioritize, touting her budgeting experience during her divorce proceedings, when she said she learned to save and spend responsibly and “make ends meet.”
Triepke told the Missoulian she bought the houses as stabilizing investments to keep her family comfortable in Missoula, with the rental property providing savings for her children.
She said she attempted to end her public assistance payments as soon as her divorce was settled, but she said the state told her to let it run out over the next few months. According to Triepke’s recollection, the $150-per-month SNAP benefits stopped coming in August 2016.
According to Jon Ebelt, public information officer for the Department of Public Health and Human Services, SNAP is renewed on a monthly basis, while LIEAP benefits automatically run out in June each year.