Gov. Steve Bullock (D-MT) is being accused of intimidating auditors of his state’s department of public health over concerns of potential welfare fraud on a prominent Native American reservation.
The Washington Free Beacon reported on Wednesday that the Democrat Senate hopeful is facing allegations that he attempted to silence Wendie Fredrickson, a former audit reviewer in Montana’s Department of Public Health and Human Services. Fredrickson claims that Bullock “intimidated” state officials within her department into “ignoring fraud” after they discovered a substantial number of “fraudulent” welfare payments going to the Fort Belknap Indian Reservation.
Fredrickson, who is now running against Bullock for the United States Senate on the Green Party line, told the Beacon that individuals within the governor’s administration sought to prevent her from reporting the alleged fraud to ethics officials back in 2014.
“When I went to write the report, they put me in a room with no phone, no internet. They did that with quite a few auditors, anyone they weren’t happy with,” she told the outlet, adding that she was further warned not to speak to anyone outside the administration about the alleged fraud. “And if I did talk… they threatened to sue, so I was scared to death to bring things forward.”
Fredrickson claims she was forced to retire in 2014 after being stripped of her responsibilities within the department. She also told the Beacon that “several other auditors who did try to bring things forward” were fired and “paid” to sign nondisclosure agreements.
Bullock’s staff, for their part, have claimed that ethics officials investigated the matter when it was first brought up and were unable to find any “evidence of fraud, waste, or abuse.”
Fredrickson’s allegations come as polling shows the governor increasingly within striking distance of ousting Sen. Steve Daines (R-MT) this November.