Montana PSC in discussions with former Missoula lawmaker Tschida for director position
Former legislator Brad Tschida confirmed Friday he is in discussions with the Montana Public Service Commission about taking a job as its next executive director.
Tschida, a Republican from Missoula, said he has not accepted an offer, but he is weighing several factors.
For example, he said his wife is retired, and he has been semi-retired for several years. He said he isn’t sure if he wants to move into the role at the same time his spouse won’t be working.
Tschida lost an election for a state Senate seat this year to Democrat Willis Curdy. Curdy took 54 percent of the vote to Tschida’s 46 percent.
According to Legislative Services, Tschida served as a state representative in the last four sessions and was House majority leader in 2019.
He has been a top critic of the Missoula County Elections Office and alleged wrongdoing in the 2020 election, according to reporting by the Missoulian newspaper.
The Missoula County Commissioners asked him to take his allegations to court if he believed his claims had merit, but Tschida did not do so, the newspaper reported.
The Missoula County Republican Party conducted its own review of the process, and the chairperson told the Montana Free Press in April that voters should have full confidence in local elections results.
In 2019, the state of Montana agreed to pay Tschida nearly $75,000 in legal fees related to a public records case, according to MTN News.
Tschida had challenged a law that prevented the disclosure of ethics complaints against state officials. He did so after the commissioner of political practices said he broke the law by speaking of his 2016 allegations, later dismissed, against former Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock.
MTN News reported the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals struck down the law Tschida allegedly broke and described it as an unconstitutional restriction on free speech.
This year, Tschida made national news following the Dobbs decision that overturned abortion protections in Roe vs. Wade when he sent an email to fellow lawmakers that said a woman’s uterus “serves no specific purpose to her life or well-being.”
The Washington Post published a story about his statement and said his comments contradicted “long-accepted science” that the uterus helps reproductive health.
At the time, Tschida was running for office, and he told the Daily Montanan he had been up front with the public about his beliefs and would leave the race in the hands of the voters.
The Public Service Commission regulates monopoly utilities and is currently run by a five-member all-Republican elected commission.
PSC President Jim Brown did not return requests for comment this week, and an agency spokesperson declined comment.
The executive director position is relatively new at the PSC. In spring 2021, the Legislative Audit Division released a critical review of the Public Service Commission, and in response, Brown said the agency was already addressing shortcomings, including a reorganization to hire an executive director.
In August 2021, the agency announced its first director, a former school superintendent. The announcement said the director would “plan, coordinate and manage the day-to-day operations of the department” and “lead the agency’s communications and public relations work.”
This past June, the Boulder-based Monitor reported former PSC director Erik Wilkerson had accepted a job as superintendent of the Jefferson High School District in a return to the field of education.
The Public Service Commission subsequently readvertised the executive director job, at least most recently on Dec. 5, although it is no longer posted. The position was advertised at $90,000 to $105,000.
Tschida is listed as a real estate agent for Windermere in Missoula, but he said he isn’t working full time anymore.
The regulatory agency is based in Helena, and Tschida said location requirements were part of the discussion he was having about the job. He also said he has his own age to consider; despite his youthful demeanor, he said he’s nearly 70 years old.