On Monday, Sept. 10, just about everyone with a Whitefish-area zip code got a professionally designed four-page flyer from Whitefish Sensible Land Use (WSLU) in their mail box. Some report getting five.
The flyer urges Whitefish residents to oppose a land use ordinance the city will discuss at a public hearing Sept. 13.
The proposed “critical areas ordinance” could limit construction on sloped property and property near water or wetlands,
and could affect millions of dollars worth of property.
And while there are plenty of citizens openly opposed to the ordinance, the flyers circulated Sept. 10 didn’t contain any contact information for WSLU. Neither does the group’s website.
A search on Godaddy.com traces the website ownership to a company called Domain Discreet, based out of Nova Scotia, Canada. It’s a company that allows owners of a website to conceal their names.
The WSLU flyer pushes the idea that average Whitefish residents will be affected by the new ordinance, and features interviews with two Whitefish couples.
The Independent reached one of those couples, Ernie and Garcy Mielsen, who claim the ordinance would prevent them from building a home on a piece of Whitefish property they purchased in 1972.
Garcy says she was interviewed for the flyer by PR consultant Joann Hamick, out of Seattle.
The Independent could not find current contact information for Hamick.
When asked who’s behind WSLU, Garcy referred the Independent to Greg Carter, a real estate agent with Whitefish-based Rocky Mountain Real Estate.
When contacted, Carter asked, “How did you get my name?”
He then said to call Sean Frampton, the Whitefish attorney representing WSLU. Frampton’s secretary said Frampton would not be answering questions about the group directly, but did send out a press release with the names of four people “potentially affected by the proposed law.”
All said they don’t know who’s actually behind WSLU.
Dennis Unsworth, Montana’s commissioner of political practices, says his office is currently looking into the group to see if it must report its financial backers. He expects to have an answer late this week.