Keila Szpaller

(Daily Montanan) The second executive director of the Montana Public Service Commission in as many years is on his way out.

Brad Tschida’s last day at the regulatory agency is Sept. 14, according to the Public Service Commission.

Tschida, of Missoula, is a former Republican legislator who described himself as semi-retired prior to taking the helm of the PSC in January.

The outgoing director did not return a voicemail for comment this week. However, the PSC’s Lucas Hamilton said Tschida submitted his resignation, and the Public Service Commissioners didn’t ask him to step down.

In a statement posted to the PSC website, Tschida praised the agency.

“Despite (having) gone through some difficult times in recent years, current PSC leadership has placed this agency on a track of exceptional governance, and the citizens of Montana can be assured that commission leadership continues its pursuit of becoming a model of outstanding governance,” Tschida said in the statement. “My time, albeit limited, has shown me that there are extremely competent and dedicated staff members, and commissioners, working for Montanans at the PSC.”

Tschida was previously in the limelight for leading allegations of wrongdoing by the Missoula County Elections Office in the 2020 election, although the local GOP conducted its own review of practices and said voters should have full confidence in the county’s elections results.

In late December 2022, the all-Republican PSC voted 4-1 to support Tschida’s hire; Commission President Jim Brown confirmed at the time he cast the vote against the appointment but declined to state a reason.

In earlier statements posted on its website, Public Service Commissioners thanked Tschida in a joint statement for his “interim” work on “provisional” duties in the “transitional” role.

However, when the PSC hired Tschida, the agency expressed hope for stability in the role moving forward.

His offer letter, the closest equivalent to a contract at the PSC, did not describe an interim or temporary assignment; the letter described his starting salary this January at $90,000 and said it would increase to $97,000 on July 1 and $105,000 in January 2024.

“You serve at the pleasure of the commission,” the letter said.

Tschida has a house in Missoula, but at least initially, the PSC expected him to work out of the agency’s Helena office.

The PSC reorganized to hire an executive director after it received a problematic audit in spring 2021, although Brown said at the time it was shoring up operations prior to the findings.

The first executive director left last summer after just one year.

The executive director position is being advertised, and Hamilton said it will be open until filled.