HELENA – State Rep. Jonathan Windy Boy (D-Box Elder) has been identified as the legislator who was the subject of a harassment complaint last year – a complaint that legislative leaders said played a role in establishing a new anti-harassment policy this year for the Legislature.
The Associated Press reported last Friday that Windy Boy is the lawmaker referred to in a March 2018 investigative report on the complaint, which was filed by a female legislator in early 2018.
The report, publicly released for the first time last week and obtained Monday by MTN News, is heavily redacted, but includes details on text messages sent by the legislator in late 2017.
The investigator, Great Falls attorney Jean Faure, called the texted comments “inappropriate” and said legislative leaders should take action.
“At a very minimum, a written directive/warning and mandated training would be appropriate,” she wrote in the report, which was submitted to legislative leadership last year.
According to the report, the lawmaker who was the subject of the complaint texted the female legislator that “you are gorgeous as always” and that “you’re always a wonderful sight for my sore eyes.”
Legislative leadership at the time requested the investigation, after receiving the complaint in early 2018.
Former House Speaker Austin Knudsen, R-Culbertson, told The Associated Press that leadership from both parties discussed how Windy Boy should be disciplined, and that they considered removing him from the chairmanship of the State-Tribal Relations Committee.
Windy Boy decided last year to resign the chairmanship last spring, citing “work-related commitments.”
Windy Boy declined to comment Monday to MTN News.
The current House Democratic Leadership said in a statement that they are “shocked and disappointed to learn that a member of our caucus, an elected official in a position of power, harassed another individual.”
“This behavior is completely unacceptable,” they continued. “While we continue to gather the details about the report, we are committed to respecting the privacy of the individual who brought this complaint.”
Legislative leaders agreed to a new anti-harassment policy two weeks ago that allows confidential reporting and investigation of harassment claims against legislators and or staff, and penalties for violators.
Senate Majority Leader Fred Thomas, R-Stevensville, revealed earlier this month that the complaint filed last year convinced lawmakers that they needed a specific anti-harassment policy.
The version of Faure’s March 2018 report released to MTN News is heavily redacted, at the request of those involved, who asserted their privacy rights. It does not name the complainant or legislator who sent the texts.
House Speaker Greg Hertz, R-Polson, also told MTN News Monday he wasn’t involved in the incident, since he was not speaker at the time – and that no further action is planned.
-Mike Dennison reporting for MTN News