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Below is a letter written to the Justice Court of Sanders County in anticipation of the court hearing the case of Women For a Better Sanders County versus Dick Wells. Due to issues of jurisdiction, the case was not heard and is being elevated to District Court. The letter refers to paragraph 7 of the settlement agreement between the Montana Commissioner of Political Practices and Dick Wells, which states in part, “The Commissioner has taken into consideration the principle of mitigation ... the Respondent’s status as a disabled Armed Services Veteran of limited resources.”

As a retired veteran from the U.S. Army who receives disability, I feel strongly that holding Wells to a lower standard than other citizens because he is “a disabled Armed Services veteran of limited resources” is offensive. Military veterans are generally held in high esteem in the United States because of our perceived attributes of patriotism and integrity. Wells's actions exemplified a complete lack of integrity and he acknowledges as part of the settlement agreement that he engaged in activities that were “a violation of the public trust.” The purpose of the ads Wells funded was to deceive the voting public into thinking the organization, Women For a Better Sanders County, was endorsing a specific candidate for election, which is something the organization does not do.

As a military veteran, I hold myself and my fellow veterans to a very high standard. We conduct ourselves with integrity to ensure we are valued, and valuable, members of our communities. Engaging in deception, especially involving the most sacred of American activities, voting, is beneath the dignity of a veteran of the United States Armed Forces. Under no circumstances should the fact that Wells is a veteran be used as a mitigating circumstance. Such a ruling demeans all veterans.

Ruth Cheney,

Thompson Falls

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