by William Skink
UPDATE: I was incorrect when I said the Missoulian did not cover this, an article did appear on December 4th.
If Democrats want to win back the OPI office after Melissa Romano lost to the barely literate Republican, Elsie Arntzen, in 2016, then they might want to find a candidate without a drug abusing husband who was arrested for possession of multiple illicit drugs, including meth and LSD, last August.
There are lots of questions raised by the report that Melissa Romano’s husband, Eric Lehman, is facing criminal charges for drug possession. Here is some of that reporting:
The charges against Eric Lehman, who resigned his teaching post at Hawthorne Elementary School as of Nov. 1, said the drugs were found in a bag in his vehicle after a traffic stop and vehicle impoundment in late August in Helena.
Prosecutors told MTN News they’ve been negotiating a plea deal with Lehman, who is expected to plead guilty. An arraignment is scheduled next week in District Court in Helena.
In a statement to MTN News, Romano said Tuesday that it’s been “a very difficult time for our family,” but that Lehman is “taking responsibility for his actions, seeking treatment and making amends.”
The first big question is why the hell was this drug abuser allowed to continue teaching kids after being caught with a smorgosbord of drugs? He was busted in August, but only resigned November 1st? Really? If my kid had this guy as their teacher I would be livid with the school district for keeping him in the classroom.
The second question is how this incident was kept quiet for so long, especially when newspapers are so quick to plaster mugshots of alleged criminals every day on their flimsy corporate pages. Is there some special treatment going on for the husband of a political candidate? The optics aren’t good.
The report I linked to came from KBCK in Bozeman. The Missoulian STILL has not reported on this, though the Missoula Current did, but not at the top of their webpage, where most new news stories appear before dropping down.
What remains of the blogosphere has shown interest because this is a significant story. James Conner has a post up about it, as does Strandberg. Not surprisingly the partisan Montana Post is so far mum on their candidate’s PR problem, probably because they are too busy promoting anti-Russian xenophobia as a cudgel against Gianforte. Pathetic.
Personally, I don’t think Romano has all that much to worry about here. Missoula’s Mayor Engen had a literal intervention due to his alcoholism, and he was able to turn his personal troubles into a successful reelection campaign.
The more troubling part of this story is the seeming cover-up that happened for months to keep it out of the public eye. Poor people charged with crimes don’t seem to have the same consideration given to them that this hubby of a candidate did since his bust in August.
The apparent cover-up could be more problematic for Romano than the actual charges her husband is facing. Regardless, this will now be a very convenient line of attack for her opponents, and will make winning the election next November incredibly difficult.
The one chance that the Montana Democrat Party had for holding on to a state level office just went down the drain with this story breaking yesterday on Lehman drug charges. The party leadership had over two months to address this head on but felt that a cover up was the best route to go. I am sure Monica Lindeen ,Executive Director and Melissa Romano,wife of Lehman and candidate for OPI are friends. One would assume Romano told Lindeen about this or as Helena is a small town many knew of it. So why not attack it head on which would of at least appeared to give it standing this was serious or at least to save face urge Romano to drop out and find a replacement candidate. So did someone really think this was going away. How can the Montana Democrat Party look anyone square in the face and say only the GOP does cover ups. No wonder the younger voters hate both parties. I am a former school board member and if I sat on the Helena School Board I sure as hell would be asking the Superintendent why was Lehman not suspended in August but allowed to teach until November but if the board did know shame on them. Then how is it law enforcement and county attorney just sit on this to work out a nice deal for Lehman. That certainly gives off a foul smell. Lastly Romano has to now answer when she knew of Lehman’s drug problem and what she was trying to do about it. She can not hide behind family matter due to being a candidate for office that runs Montana Public Schools. The whole situation is scandalous on so many levels. I could forgive the pot but cocaine is expensive and the usage of Meth by a elementary teacher makes me sick to my stomach. I doubt Mr. Lehman’s drug addiction started this past summer so I truly feel for this family that has now been pushed into the spot light by drug addictions. I am glad Mr. Lehman is getting help but I strongly feel Romano has no choicebut to drop out of this race to protect her family from attacks that will certainly come soon.
thank you Dennis, I really appreciate your comment.
Unless you are separated from your spouse a person knows if their husband/wife has a drug problem.
That won’t sink her candidacy, this election cycle the ‘D’ behind her name will do that.
This post and your blog was mentioned this morning on the Flynt report (MT Talks).
I appreciate the acknowledgment
You’ve never done any drugs, right Skink?
I’ve never run for public office and I’ve never been responsible for the welfare of elementary school kids. if you want to distract from this scandal by coming after me for what I’ve written in the past about my use of marijuana, go for it.
you posted this comment pretty late at night, Pete. how many bourbons did down before making that comment? nothing illegal about being a drunk, just ask our Mayor. but the things you do when intoxicated, well, that can get you in trouble.
I try not to blame people for their spouse’s shortcomings, nor throw stones at glass houses.
That’s an aptly mangled metaphor!
I prefer to think of it as a new twist on an old platitude. 🙂
Did you ask James Conner if he does meth, Pete?
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