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Missoula County Attorney “Not Interested in Trying to Further the Department of Justice’s Political Agenda” [AUDIO]

Missoula County Attorney Fred Van Valkenburg
photo by Peter Christian

During Wednesday’s news conference with the Department of Justice, the subject of the Missoula County Attorney’s lack of cooperation with the various investigations came up yet again.

Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division, Roy Austin, Jr. mentioned that the county attorney was not the only person in that office that the DOJ had been talking to. Reached on Wednesday afternoon, Missoula County Attorney Fred van Valkenburg confirmed that at least one more person had been contacted.

“Well, I know that they’ve talked with my chief civil deputy Martha McClain,” Van Valkenburg said. “She was present with me when I have had discussions with DOJ people. Other than that, I don’t know of anyone who is talking to them.”

Van Valkernburg reiterated his stance of absolute non-cooperation with the Department of Justice.

“There’s no reason to change my position,” he said. “The Department of Justice does not have the authority to investigate our office. We’ve done nothing wrong, and it would be a huge mistake in both precedent and cost for us to succumb to their demands. If they want to go to court, then that’s what they ought to do.”

Van Valkenburg seemed unconcerned that his office’s lack of cooperation might hinder compliance to agreements that the city, the police department and the university have made with the government.

“We’ve always been able to work with those organizations, and I don’t anticipate that changing,” Van Valkenburg continued. “However, I’m not particularly concerned about whether our involvement enables them to comply with any Department of Justice settlement that they’ve entered into….that’s their problem, and they need to figure that out on their own.”

Van Valkenburg stated what he sees as the most important part of the equation, when it comes to protecting women and successfully prosecuting sexual assaults.

“We all need to continue to work together here in Missoula to make sure that the laws are enforced, try to do all we can to try and prevent the occurrence of things like sexual assaults, and we’ll do that,” Van Valkenburg said. “But, I’m not interested in trying to further the Department of Justice’s political agenda.”

Missoula County Attorney Fred van Valkenburg

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