A Montana legislator sent a female colleague harassing text messages in 2017 leading to his resignation as chairman of the state Tribal Relations Committee.
This information came to light today in an investigation reported by the Associated Press.
According to the AP, Democratic Rep. Jonathan Windy Boy from Box Elder was named by former Republican House Speaker Austin Knudsen as the legislator accused of sending harassing texts. The messages called the unnamed recipient “gorgeous” and "A wonderful sight for My Sore Eyes."
The AP’s Amy Beth Hanson is covering the story along with her colleague Matt Volz.
I asked Hanson what their report tells us.
Amy Beth Hanson: The report shows us that a complaint was made against Jonathan Windy Boy. An investigator looked into it, found it to have merit, and legislative leadership discussed it and former Speaker Austin Knudsen was talking about removing him from a committee chairmanship. Democratic leadership asked to be able to talk to him first, and he resigned before he could be removed.
Corin Cates-Carney: And when did this happen?
AH: The text messages happened between August and October of 2017. The complaint was made in January, and he resigned from the committee chairmanship in that spring, March or April.
CCC: You received some pretty heavily redacted documents about this investigation. Where did those come from, and what does that tell you about the extent of the content of these texts and who they were between?
AH: The report talks about two people that received texts from Windy Boy, one being a fellow legislator, which led to this report, and an earlier one that appeared to be a legislative staffer that I don't think was a formal report, but more of a "knock it off" kind of thing.
CCC: The redacted report doesn't actually say Windy Boy, but it was confirmed by Speaker Knudsen that that's who is being referred to, is that correct?
CCC: Rep. Windy Boy, what has he said since this has become public?
AH: He declined to comment. He referred me to his attorney, and I asked who that was. And then he just said I decline to comment.
CCC: And this is all coming out right as the Legislature has adopted its sexual harassment policies, discrimination policies. Did this case lead to those?
AH: This case helped move it along. Former House Minority Leader Jenny Eck said it helped push things along, Knudsen said it helped change his vote on the matter.
CCC: What isn't known at this point? What are you still looking into?
AH: Well the name of the reporting legislator is redacted, and we don't know, and really wouldn't intend to publish it anyway. And we don’t know who the staffer was, or who that person might have reported to and who might have, at that point, directed him to knock it off.
CCC: Amy Beth Hanson, thanks for taking the time.
AH: Thank you.