Yellowstone treasurer uses racial epithet in email
November 1, 2013
BILLING (AP) — A Yellowstone County employee says his use of slurs in an email expressing his disbelief that President Barack Obama was re-elected is no reason for him to resign.
County Treasurer Max Lenington said he won't resign over what he called a personal message to his sister. He did say that possibility was raised in a discussion with county Attorney Scott Twito on Thursday.
Twito's office is investigating whether there are grounds to recall Lenington for comments made in an email sent from his work computer last year, The Billings Gazette reported Friday (http://bit.ly/1bJtc24).
Lenington's sister had forwarded him an email opposing Obama. Lenington responded in an email that used derogatory terms for blacks and gays that he was baffled over the president's re-election.
Lenington wrote: "It must mean there are more lesbians, (gays), Indians, Mexicans and (blacks) than the rest of us!"
Twito assigned the civil division of his office to review the recall process that may allow for Lenington to be removed from office. Under state law, an elected official can be removed from office for "physical or mental lack of fitness, incompetence, violation of the oath of office, official misconduct, or conviction of a felony offense."
Lenington has worked for county government for more than 40 years. He also serves as county assessor and superintendent of public schools. His term ends on Dec. 31, 2014.
Twito said he was offended by Lenington's statements.
"All of the words that were used (in the email) were inappropriate," Twito told The Associated Press Friday. "All of them were offensive to me, the way they were used."
Lenington told the newspaper he was upset about the election's outcome and said he "probably" regrets the email. He also told a reporter that "you've got to get out with the real people because you'll see that people still use that word periodically," the newspaper reported.
The Gazette obtained the November 2012 email as part of a public records request made after it was learned that Lenington had submitted a letter to the editor that included lines and ideas from another writer's column without crediting the other writer.
In the letter, Lenington wrote, "the truth is I do hate the Obamas. I hate what they represent, their policies, their legislation and their ideology." That excerpt diverted from the other writer's column.