A Gazette investigation last week revealed further evidence that Yellowstone County Treasurer Max Lenington has a history of using his government email to send and receive racially charged messages.
Over the last year, Lenington, 69, has sent or expressed agreement with at least a dozen racially and politically charged emails in opposition to President Barack Obama and his policies, according to emails provided in response to a Gazette public information request.
In one of those emails, Lenington, the Yellowstone County treasurer, assessor and superintendent of schools, used the N-word and singled out minority groups.
On Nov. 13, 2012, he wrote that Obama’s re-election must have been because “ … there are more lesbians, queers, Indians, Mexicans and n——— than the rest of us!” (The Gazette has chosen not to reproduce completely the word that Lenington wrote.)
The comment, which Lenington said he made to his sister, was in response to a forward purportedly quoting a newspaper out of Prague, Czech Republic.
Lenington has apologized for his response to that email, and says that he is not racist. The NAACP, Yellowstone County Commissioner Bill Kennedy and others are still calling for his resignation.
Another forward Lenington received said, “Effective Jan 1, 2013, Aspirin will be taxed under the Obama-Careprogram (sic).” The explanation was that they are white and they work. No other reason was given.
Lenington replied to the message on Jan. 29, saying, “Thank you….Well said…..”.
One 850-word email forward Lenington received stated of Obama: “It is not the color of his skin that is a problem in America. Rather it is the blackness that fills his soul and the hollowness in his heart where there should be abiding pride and love for this country.”
He forwarded the email to someone on Sept. 30 with the comment: “Attached are some additional ‘truths’ about your sweetheart President.”
The Gazette made the public information request that turned up these emails as part of an investigation into Lenington’s conduct after it was discovered in August that two anti-Obama letters to the editor submitted by Lenington appeared to be plagiarized.
The authors of the original material ultimately chose not to pursue the issue with Lenington.
He used his government email account to submit at least one of the letters to several newspapers, including The Wall Street Journal, The Bozeman Daily Chronicle, The Casper Star-Tribune and The Helena Independent Record.
A county attorney investigated whether Lenington’s use of his work email account and computer to circulate those letters to the editor violated county policy. A report released on Sept. 16 found that Lenington was not making undue use of county resources.
The County Attorney’s Office has launched another investigation into Lenington’s conduct following the exposure of these other emails, and the revelation that Lenington also spent several months using his work email to negotiate an $11,000 transaction for a customized Triumph Thruxton motorcycle.