Missoula Sheriff Says Opponent’s Complaints Are ‘Political’ and ‘Shameful’
At the beginning of October, Missoula County Sheriff’s Deputy Travis Wafstet filed a Human Rights Bureau complaint against Sheriff T.J. McDermott. The situation is complicated by the fact that both men are also political candidates running for office against each other. In the Complaint, Wafstet accuses McDermott of political retaliation in the form of refusing a job promotion after Wafstet announced that he was going to run for Sheriff as an Independent candidate. McDermott believes the complaint itself is politically motivated.
"We are disappointed that Mr. Wafstet would use the HRB," McDermott said. "It is a mechansim held dear by labor to try to address work place mistreatment for political purposes. We completely deny the central theme of his complaint and ironically by it's timing, it is political in nature.
A very similar scenario played out after McDermott was voted in as sheriff nearly four years ago after defeating former Undersheriff Josh Clark. McDermott believes some of the same forces are at play again this time.
"I think it is shameful," McDermott said. "All of the complaints that have been filed against me or the Sheriff's Office have come from the same group of folks that lost the election in 2014. Despite coming up empty handed each time, they continue to waste tax payer money, our time and energy, and try to obstruct the operation of the Sheriff's Office."
Right now, the Sheriff’s office is dealing with at least two Human Rights complaints, one from Wafstet and another from Sgt. Jonathan Stineford, which was filed in September. The sheriff’s office has seen no shortage of complaints or settlements over the past few years, McDermott was even granted a settlement himself after filing a discrimination complaint against former Sheriff Carl Ibsen.