Tuntland Calls WSI General Counsel Jodi Bjornson - Part 1

November 9, 2010

WSI General Counsel Jodi Bjornson justified that she got to know Jim Long quite well, they became friends, and that he sought her advice frequently.  Sometimes in writing, sometimes in person. 

She stated Billie Peltz had alot of strengths and that she was flirtatious, mostly with Jim.  Bjornson stated that after Blunt was charged with 3 felonies, she knew he would be suspended and that she had read Armstrong's journal and knew something would happen at that time. 

Tuntland:  Were you aware of the investigation of Blunt?
Bjornson:  Yes.
Tuntland:  Romi Leingang?
Bjornson:  She was the director of the special investigations unit.  The two departments beneath me were legal and the special investigations unit.
Tuntland:  She reported to you.  When she was charged, did you feel bad?
Bjornson:  Absolutely. 
Tuntland:  Do you remember conversations regarding an interim CEO?
Bjornson:  No.  I was not privy to that.
Tuntland:  Did you know Jim advocated for you to be the interim CEO?
Bjornson:  That's a surprise.  
Tuntland:  Did you want it?
Bjornson:  No.  I had been an interim CEO years before and it's a thankless job.
Tuntland:  Were you at the board meeting where they put Blunt on administrative leave?
Bjornson:  Yes.
Tuntland:  They had a resolution that his prosecution was political?
Bjornson:  Yes.
Tuntland:  Did you understand what that meant?
Bjornson:  I didn't know. I have my opinion on it.
Tuntland:  Halvorson was appointed, correct?
Bjornson:  Yes.
Tuntland:  Are you familiar with the Carvel model of governance at WSI?
Bjornson:  Yes, generally.
Tuntland:  As General Counsel, did Jim as you when it was appropriate to go to board members?
Bjornson:  That's a possible topic, yes.
Tuntland:  When Jim questioned whether the CEO was acting within the boundaries of the law, who'd he go to, you, the board?
Bjornson:  I'd expect if he had questions he's come to me.  He did.
Tuntland:  If he had allegations of violations of law and he told you, was that enough?
Bjornson:  No.  He could take it forward.  We were laterals.
Tuntland:  Didn't legal have more pull?
Bjornson:  I don't understand the question.
Tuntland:  If you thought Sandy did something illegal, what would you do?
Bjornson:  I'd discuss with the internal staff varying degrees, would meet with the internal staff, maybe take it to the board, to the CEO in my chain of command, it depends on the situtation.
Tuntland:  If you thought there were a federal felony, would you have to go to the FBI?
Bjornson:  That's difficult to answer.  Each situation is different.  If there were a major crime, I would have to get law enforcement involved.
Tuntland:  What circumstances would it take to go to law enforcement?
Bjornson:  I did contact the States Attorney in this case on some issues.  It's case specific.
Tuntland:  You feel you understand you know when it's appropriate to go to law enforcement or not?
Bjornson:  It's a matter of good judgment.
Tuntland:  If Jim Long comes to you, is going to law enforcement an option he could take?
Bjornson:  Yes.
Tuntland:  Did you go to law enforcement regarding the Sandy Blunt cases?
Bjornson:  Yes.  I went to the States Attorney.
Tuntland:  There were three cases.  Which case did you go to the States Attorney?
Bjornson:  I was deposed in the case of misappropriation of public funds.
Tuntland:  You were deposed in the case of the drivers licenses?
Bjornson:  Yes.
Tuntland:  Did you go to the States Attorney or did she contact you?
Bjornson:  She contacted me.
Tuntland:  You did not initiate contact with the States Attorney?
Bjornson:  No, but I cooperated.
Tuntland:  Did Jim Long come to you regarding Blunt's violations of law before he was charged?
Bjornson:  Yes, several times.
Tuntland:  Your record keeping, how much do you do, do you keep a journal?
Bjornson:  It depends on the issue.
Tuntland:  When Jim came to you, did you take notes?
Bjornson:  If it was an issue I was concerned about, yes.
Tuntland:  Did Jim talk about promotional expenses being improper?
Bjornson:  No.  Jim was writing responses saying they were proper.
Tuntland:  Did Jim express concerns to you about promotional expenses?
Bjornson:  I don't recall.
Tuntland:  Did he talk with you about ITTP?
Bjornson:  Yes.
Tuntland:  Did he ask your advice?
Bjornson:  I don't recall that.

Tuntland:  Regarding the 4% pay increase, did Jim talk with you about that?
Bjornson:  Yes.
Tuntland:  Were you part of the group that went to the AG's office regarding the 4% pay increase?
Bjornson:  Yes.
Tuntland:  Did the Attorney General lay down the law on that?
Bjornson:  Several discussions led to that.  He told us clearly what his opinion was.
Tuntland:  Is there a difference between an attorney and an Attorney General's opinion?
Bjornson:  Yes.
Tuntland:  A state employee can rely upon an Attorney General's opinion?
Bjornson:  Yes.

Tuntland:  Did Jim talk with you about problems with Dave Spencer?
Bjornson:  Yes.  It was no longer workable to have Dave in the building.  I remember discussing Dave's future with Jim and Peltz and Blunt, I believe.
Tuntland:  Jim said Blunt wanted Dave to get reimbursement for moving expenses?
Bjornson:  There were discussions, but no I don't remember Blunt specifically asking that. 
Tuntland:  Billie wanted a date certain for Dave to be gone?
Bjornson:  Yes, we all did.
Tuntland:  The question of reimbursing moving expenses came up?
Bjornson:  Yes.
Tuntland:  Indefinite medical leave?
Bjornson:  Yes.
Tuntland:  You gave an opinion that what Blunt was doing was ok?
Bjornson:  I did write a memo.
Tuntland:  Did you contact the AG's office on that?
Bjornson:  No.
Tuntland:  Were you telling Sandy Blunt what he wanted to hear?
Bjornson:  No. 

Tuntland:  Did Jim tell you about Halvorson and Blunt getting information off of Spencer's computer?
Bjornson:  No.
Tuntland:  Did Jim tell you Sandy gave safety grants without any application?
Bjornson:  I'm not sure if I got that from Jim or others.
Tuntland:  Sandy did give away $150,000 grant without any application, right?
Bjornson:  There are some documents on that, but I have no specific memory.

Tuntland:  Did Jim call you about a meeting he attended at the Chamber of Commerce?
Bjornson:  Yes.
Tuntland:  Do you remember the advice you gave?
Bjornson:  No.
Tuntland:  Your husband, John, did you ask him about anything like the Hatch Act?
Bjornson:  Yes, he works in that area.

Tuntland:  Were you deposed in the drivers license case?
Bjornson:  Yes.
Tuntland:  Shortly before the case, were you deposed again?
Bjornson:  Yes.
Tuntland:  Were there differences between the first and second deposition in your opinion?
Bjornson:  No.
Tuntland:  You threatened to sue the States Attorney?
Bjornson:  It looked like I changed my testimony and I didn't.  I didn't threaten, I did it.
Tuntland:  About the same time, you sent a letter that you might have to file for whistleblower protection?
Bjornson:  Yes.
Tuntland:  What prompted that?
Bjornson:  I'd cooperated with the States Attorney, the dismissal went to the press.  For me, as an attorney, it looked like I had changed my testimony and it was a result of Miss Feland's conduct. 

Tuntland:  Did you go to Sandy Blunt's house?
Bjornson:  No.

Tuntland:  Did you talk to Jim about Hutchings pre-interview notification?
Bjornson:  Yes.
Tuntland:  Do you remember Jim asking you if you would come along?
Bjornson:  I don't, but I wouldn't mind.
Tuntland:  Rob Forward?
Bjornson:  I don't recall.
Tuntland:  Did you talk about tape recording?
Bjornson:  I remember talking about it.
Tuntland:  Did you say it was ok?
Bjornson:  I don't recall.
Tuntland:  Is tape recording legal?  This is a one party consent state?
Bjornson:  Yes.

Tuntland:  Are you aware of retaliation policies, specifically there's no retaliation for acting as an investigator?
Bjornson:  I don't know right now.
Tuntland:  Did Jim talk with you after he'd talked with Halvorson regarding the tape recording issue?
Bjornson:  Yes.
Tuntland:  Did he ask your advice?
Bjornson:  I was trying to keep a lid on the place.
Tuntland:  What did you tell him?
Bjornson:  Regarding the conversation on tape, not specifically.
Tuntland:  When did you become aware of the Armstrong journal?
Bjornson:  When the search warrant was issued, October 19, 2007.
Tuntland:  Were you there after closing hours?
Bjornson:  I was there at the time.
Tuntland:  Did anyone come to you and say, the police are here with a search warrant?
Bjornson:  Somebody did.
Tuntland:  When the police come with a search warrant, what are you supposed to do?
Bjornson:  If they came to the door, I would call a lawyer.
Tuntland:  But you're the lawyer.
Bjornson:  Yes, but I wasn't aware of the police until they were on the 4th floor.
Tuntland:  Did you read the journal?
Bjornson:  Yes.
Tuntland:  How'd you get it?
Bjornson:  Mark Armstrong gave it to me.  He explained the secret documents and I took him at his word.
Tuntland:  Jim put in a request for whistleblower protection and a three page list of wrongdoing, correct?
Bjornson:  Yes.
Tuntland:  Who assigned Tim Wahlin to investigate?
Bjornson:  Either Halvorson or myself or a combination.
Tuntland:  You were there?
Bjornson:  Yes, but those specifics I don't remember.
Tuntland:  But Halvorson was listed as a suspected wrongdoer?
Bjornson:  This was a workplace decision.  I stand by the decision.
Tuntland:  You're aware of problems cited in the State Auditor's report?
Bjornson:  That's completely different.

Tuntland:   Jim had allegations of criminal wrongdoing?
Bjornson:  I'm not sure what you're referring to.
Tuntland:  Jim said Halvorson and Blunt gave protected information to Dave Spencer?
Bjornson:  Yes.
Tuntland:  That was the only allegation investigated?
Bjornson:  We coordinated investigations.
Tuntland:  You coordinated investigations?
Bjornson:  We didn't want to interfere.

Tuntland introduced an email from BCI's Quinn that said, "BCI could not order Jim not to cooperate with an employer investigation." 

Tuntland:  That's what was said?
Bjornson:  That's what it says here.
Tuntland:  So Quinn said you have authority to conduct investigations?  So coordinate means talking with Jim?
Bjornson:  I see more in this email.

Tuntland:  You were Tim Wahlin's supervisor?
Bjornson:  Yes.
Tuntland:  You're aware I had informed him I could not be present for his questioning of Jim Long?
Bjornson:  Yes.
Tuntland:  On Halloween, Tim wrote to me saying Jim made allegations that need to be looked at as soon as possible.
Bjornson:  Yes.
Tuntland:  There was nothing done the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th.  Tell me what urgency there was that he had to be interviewed on the 7th and not on the 8th?  Do you know what the urgency was?
Bjornson:  No.
Tuntland:  Did he report to Halvorson?
Bjornson:  He, he still reported to me.
Tuntland:  But he sent his report to Halvorson and Blunt?
Bjornson:  Yes, that's not unusual.

Tuntland produced the Tim Wahlin document, "If Jim does not cooperate, he can face disciplinary action."?
Bjornson:  Yes.
Tuntland:  That's compelling answers, isn't it?  In a criminal action, you can only compel answers before a grand jury.
Bjornson:  This is a workplace and the rules of the game change.  That's why law enforcement wouldn't want to be there.
Tuntland:  You talked about coordinated investigations.
Bjornson:  We wanted to not impede their investigation.

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