We read with interest your recent report that John Morrison may be considering a return to politics. We have known John Morrison and worked with him for many years. He is one of Montana’s top public interest lawyers and most effective public leaders.

Unfortunately, the story — about a poll testing the waters for a run by Morrison — contained a significant factual error. It stated that Morrison had an affair “with a woman who was at the time married to a defendant in a securities fraud case Morrison’s auditor’s office pursued.” That statement is untrue. The 2006 story that is linked to the article makes clear that the two-month relationship occurred in the 1990s, several years before Morrison was a public official, and the woman did not marry the defendant until years later. We are glad to see this error has been corrected in the article online.

In addition to setting the record straight on this fact, we think it is important for your readers to know that Morrison properly handled the case in question when he was state auditor. We know from personal experience that John Morrison is a highly ethical attorney and public leader. For more than 20 years, he has held the highest peer rating for legal ability and ethics and he has never had a verified ethics complaint against him — as an attorney, political candidate or public official — for anything, ever, including the case in question. In fact, John Morrison has been appointed by State Bar presidents for many years to serve on the committee that advises Montana’s 3,000 or so lawyers about ethics.

The case that was publicized in the 2006 Senate race is no exception. We have seen the written statements of nearly every person who worked on the case, including auditor employees and outside attorneys, saying it was handled properly in every way with no interference from Morrison. A bipartisan group of former top Montana officials: a Supreme Court justice, an attorney general, a Republican state auditor, deputy state auditors, a commissioner of political practices, a U.S. Attorney, a Republican county attorney (who also worked on the case), an ethics professor and others reviewed the file in detail, and all said the case was properly handled by Morrison and the Auditor’s Office in every way. As reporter Mike Dennison said in his recent book "Inside Montana Politics," “Morrison did the proper thing: he acknowledged he’d had relationships with people connected to (the case) and didn’t try to influence the investigation at all.”

John Morrison has spent his career as a lawyer and public leader fighting for consumers, workers, small business owners and other everyday Montanans. He led the creation of Healthy Montana Kids and the Montana Health CO-OP, increased access to public lands on the Land Board, curbed financial industry abuses and brought new businesses to Montana. He has taken on insurance companies, big tobacco, big pharma and the federal government when they break the law and has recovered hundreds of millions of dollars for Montanans.

John and his wife Cathy have been married for 28 years and raised two daughters in the Montana public schools who have become outstanding young women and very good, caring people in their own right. Like most of us, John and Cathy’s relationship has had challenges, but they have worked their way through the tough times and remain devoted to one another — and to Montana.

Our purpose here is not to endorse John Morrison for any particular office. It is just a reminder that he is one of our best and if duty calls him back into public service it will be good news for Montana.

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Linda McCulloch is a former Montana secretary of state and superintendent of public instruction; James Regnier is a former Supreme Court justice; Gordy Higgins is a former commissioner of political practices; and Sherry Matteucci is a former U.S. Attorney.

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