A Montana republican Yellowstone County assessor, treasurer, and superintendent of schools already under fire for sending plagiarized letters to the editor of a local newspaper added more fuel to the flame when it was reported he sent an e-mail from his government account using disparaging language against minorities.
The letter, written to his sister after the 2012 elections, was produced to the local Billings Gazette by county attorney Scott Twito after a public information request was made to search Max Lenington’s government e-mails. The requests were made after a pair of Lenington’s plagiarized letters – one which was titled, “Why I hate Barack and Michelle Obama” – were published by the Billings Gazette. Although entire sentences are written nearly verbatim to columnist Mychael Massie’s piece called, “Why I dislike the Obama’s,” Lenington denies any plagiarism violations.
In Lenington’s e-mail he sent to his sister using his government account, he wrote, “It still baffles me how (Obama) got elected. It must mean there are more lesbians, queers, Indians, Mexicans and [n***ers] than the rest of us!”
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, American Indian and Alaska Natives comprise 6.5 percent of the Montana population that includes seven Indian reservations. Montana Indians are currently in a lawsuit against the state aiming to give them satellite voting offices in rural Montana where some of the most heavily populated centers of the reservations still have to travel over 120 miles to vote.
When explaining his motivation to Billings Gazette reporter Eddie Gregg, Lenington responded, “…you’ve got to get out with the real people because you’ll see that people still use that word periodically. This is Montana … this isn’t Chicago, this isn’t Washington.”
The calls for his resignation have only grown louder since the plagiarism incident, while others took to the Gazette’s facebook to defend Lenington’s actions as free speech.
Leslie Kimble wrote, “Well, if Obama wasn't such a huge failure then being offended has merit, but right now… I’m inclined to agree with him. Obama is not even American, it’s like having Osama Bin Laden in office, why have we not revolted yet?” Another added, “This man spoke the truth. Why can't he talk to his sister and say what he wants to say. What are we becoming?”
Denise Lukins pointed out, however, “The e-mail expresses his contempt for Indians, too. Since Yellowstone County has a relatively large Native American population, he obviously is biased against a lot of his constituents. How is that not a problem?”
According to an article at the greatfallstribune.com Lenington “said he won’t resign over what he called a personal message to his sister.”