Valley Journal
Valley Journal

This Week’s e-Edition

Current Events

Latest Headlines

What's New?

Send us your news items.

NOTE: All submissions are subject to our Submission Guidelines.

Announcement Forms

Use these forms to send us announcements.

Birth Announcement

Call for irrigation commissioner resignations

Hey savvy news reader! Thanks for choosing local. You are now reading
1 of 3 free articles.

Subscribe now to stay in the know!

Already a subscriber? Login now


On Nov. 24, 2020 Johanna Clark, a former employee of the then Flathead Joint Board of Control, was sentenced in federal court to prison for one year and a day and subjected to a large fine for embezzling over $200,000 from the FJBC during a three-year period from May 2014 to May 2017. 

I do not condone Clark’s actions, but she was able to steal such a large amount of irrigator money because a majority of FJBC commissioners failed to fulfill their fiduciary responsibilities, and I base that charge, in part, on my direct involvement as a FJBC commissioner. At one FJBC meeting in mid-2016, I faced a firestorm when I questioned major discrepancies in FJBC financial reports and called for a special audit. At that meeting, a Lake County Commissioner criticized FJBC commissioners for not fulfilling their fiduciary responsibilities. After another meeting, Clark threatened to sue me.  

In early 2017, information surfaced that finally convinced FJBC commissioners that a forensic audit was necessary to determine whether a crime was committed. Although I have requested a copy, that forensic audit has not been released. Court documents and related financial audits provide examples of how commissioners failed to fulfill their fiduciary responsibilities. 

First and foremost, FJBC commissioners failed to adopt financial reporting and related practices in accordance with state law and government accounting standards. Appropriate financial reporting would have revealed major financial discrepancies and misreporting well before May of 2017.

Court documents reveal that FJBC commissioners had failed to investigate Clark’s previous job performance and investigate whether she had accounting and bookkeeping background relevant to the FJBC job, which she later claimed she did not possess. They also would have discovered examples of similar thefts. 

As reported in financial audits, FJBC officers failed to monitor Clark’s work, even after major financial discrepancies and misreporting surfaced in mid-2016. To top it all off, at a January 2017 meeting, a majority of FJBC commissioners approved, sight unseen, a three-year contract for Clark with the exalted title: “executive manager, public relations specialist and full-time finance officer.” It was at that moment that I decided to take my lawyer’s long-standing advice and resign for my own legal protection.

One more consideration: on Dec. 13, 2016, District Court Judge Manley ruled that the FJBC had acted illegally when it refused to seat three commissioners who had won their elections in May of 2016. 

There are several Mission-Jocko irrigation board commissioners who served on the FJBC at that time and bear a lot of responsibility for what happened. If justice is to be fully served, they should resign.

Dick Erb



Sponsored by: