Why Dave McLean’s misdeeds are his, and his alone

First of all, sorry for the language that follows in this blog. I wish I was more eloquent when it comes to matters of the heart. Deep breaths and hit send …

Dave McLean embezzled money from his Anaconda law firm.

Well, that’s what the headline should have read after it was released he was being suspected of misappropriating client funds at his law firm. Instead, the salacious, the wicked, the dumpster fire known as the Montana Standard – a rag I wouldn’t line my dog kennel with for not to sully the reputation of very shit being placed upon it run by organization, Lee Enterprises, famous for restaffing legends and redistributing those funds to line the pockets of corporate fat cats – thought differently. (STORY HERE)

In a way to bring more attention to the story, they lumped Dave’s daughter-in-law, the Lt. Gov. of Montana Angela McLean, into the story. You see, when you can’t sell a newspaper with misspelled and half-assed reported stories, it’s much easier to go for the throat of another.

I used to be in the newspaper business as a highly-opinionated scribe, once even employed by the Butte-based publication, but I still cannot see the use of this headline. It’s over the top even for sensationalist reporting.

The Montana Standard, and other dailies throughout Montana, not only threw the bus on top of the Lt. Gov, they may as well have listed her as an accomplice with the unquestionably-vague headline. Dave McLean took money from his own clients, something that even he knows is reprehensible. And all Angela McLean has done is have the man as a father-in-law.

Here is the headline from the Montana Standard:

mclean screenshot

And from the Great Falls Tribune:

GF Tribune mcLean

What’s worse, the Tribune ran a photo of the Lt. Gov. in the article. Really tasteful. Maybe instead of trashing an innocent politician they could use their time better studying correct grammatical prose. It’s “Lt. Gov.” not “Lt. gov” you mindless twits.

As a former reporter, it’s imperative to make the professional connection between Dave McLean the lawyer and Angela McLean the Lt. Gov. in the story. But you don’t do it in a headline when it has absolutely nothing to do with the story at hand.

Let’s get down to the facts of the case. Dave was turned in for the misappropriation by his partner, his son, Mike McLean, once he became aware of the matter in late July. Let that sink in. He had to forget about all of his familial love and loyalty to do what was required via his oath as a lawyer.That takes guts, more than I could probably muster.

Mike worked hard his whole life to return to Anaconda in order to raise his family and build a practice with his father. They accomplished that. And according to the letter written to the Office of Disciplinary Counsel by Mike, everything has been researched to have been above board from January of 2003 to the 2010 calendar year — reportedly when Dave’s impropriety began.

In fact, from 2010 until earlier this year when she was appointed to the office of Lt. Gov. by Gov. Steve Bullock, Angela McLean was a nationally certified American Government teacher at Anaconda High School and member and chair of the Montana Board of Regents.  Would her picture have been published and name been connected with Dave’s crime if she was still telling William Howard Taft knock-knock jokes to high school juniors and seniors? Hell no it wouldn’t have.

I’ve been in my fair share of trouble through the years. So, should the Montana Standard publish a picture of my mother for every headlock I’ve generously applied to those who needed it? Let’s just say her headlocks hurt worse, so do your damnedest.

Mike had to turn his father in for something that just doesn’t make sense. I can’t get my head around it. Neither can he. And making a few extra bucks selling a newspaper with a misleading and hurtful headline like this isn’t helping matters either.

Those who were duped by Dave will see justice – monetarily and criminally. Reportedly there are means to pay judgments from the State Bar of Montana, so clients will be able to retrieve any money that has been misappropriated. Unfortunately that’s not even scratching the surface of everyone this is affecting.

Mike and Angela are fantastic people. They raised a wonderful family in Anaconda and will continue to do so in Helena. Mike has been a good friend and a mentor to me and my family. Angela has been a champion for Anaconda students and is continuing that legacy for all Montanans since her appointment to Lt. Gov. In fact, the only questionable thing I can say about Mike is he probably needs a little help training his dogs how to not jump a fence.

Now on to Dave.

This just kills me. Dave has been in my life since I was a little asshole. He coached my baseball All Star team. I wish I still had the vivid-green coat with yellow trim he paid for every member of the team to have – each one had our names on the front.

He looked the other way in group settings when we were disrespectful little assholes in high school, only to corner us one by one and read us the riot act individually. He tells the story of us thinking we were sneaky while throwing parties at the family cabin on Georgetown Lake, and how he always knew when we were there because of our signatures of times and dates in the guestbook. Wow were we dumb.

He coaxed me into being a member of American Legion, one of the better decisions I’ve made in my adult life. He was a guiding light to Legionnaires battling for better medical coverage and treatment, and disability and retirement compensation throughout the country. He worked for a year straight without much sleep battling to get the Southwestern Montana Veterans Home built in Anaconda from 2009 to March of 2010, when it was awarded to Butte. To date, for whatever reason, ground has still not been broke on the facility. In my opinion, vets would already be enjoying it if the home was awarded to the rightful place here in Anaconda.

Professionally, Dave’s legacy may be tarnished. But after my many indiscretions, my speed bumps in life, my horrible decisions, Dave never judged me. He knew me for me and treated me like a confidant and friend.

His reputation will not be tarnished in my eyes. He will not go down with this bump in the road hanging over his head. Nor will his son and daughter-in-law.

Dave made a grave mistake. Don’t you do the same by putting his bad judgment off on the people who were lucky enough to love him for the man he is deep down inside – the Navy fighter pilot, veteran, Legionnaire, husband, father, grandfather, friend.

Oh, and horrible bowler.

I can understand many may feel cheated or dishonored by Dave, and honestly I can respect if you feel that way. However we will agree to disagree.

This is the memory of the man I will continue to cherish. For better or worse, I’ll never let my loyalty to the guy fade away. And I’d go down in flames fighting to protect his honor if need be.

Dave McLean America Legion