HAMILTON, Mont. - Appointed Ravalli County Treasurer Valerie Stamey has been elusive in most public meetings.
She is on paid administrative leave since January for failing to provide financial reports on time. But on Wednesday, she testified before county commissioners over a reorganization plan in her office.
Commissioners looked at a proposal to eliminate the chief deputy position. They ended up keeping it, but they made changes.
Stamey's appearance in the audience may have been a surprise.
But before Stamey was removed from office she had been working on a plan to eliminate the chief deputy job and to replace it with two supervisors for each department. The chief deputy helps oversee both taxes and motor vehicles.
"I believe I should have the opportunity to be involved in this staffing recommendation," said Stamey.
Stamey is concerned that Montana law leaves the county liable if its clerks are called deputies. Human resources doesn't see a problem. Commissioners kept the chief deputy position, but won't fill it at this time.
Two supervisors or "leads" in taxes and DMV will get stipends for additional work they are doing.
Stamey said FBI agents have interviewed her at her request about corruption she alleges in the treasurer's office.
"My attorney and I met with agents for over five hours," said Stamey, "reviewing the evidence and the documents that I already have."
Stamey said she should not have been put on administrative leave. She said evidence in investigations should "prove beyond a shadow of a doubt" that she did not commit a crime.
Commissioners have sued Stamey over late reports.
She remains on the primary ballot for treasurer.
"I believe my chances are strong," she said. "I am a supporter for our citizens' rights."
Stamey said she has no plans for filing any additional lawsuits at this time. But she said there will be more forthcoming once the FBI finishes its first review of the evidence.
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