The matter of the unprocessed check with “sexual favors” written on the memo line has been put to bed.
Since late 2016, Scott Dion’s property tax check on which he’d written sexual favors remained unprocessed. Dion had hired a local attorney to handle what he viewed as discriminatory nonaction. On Thursday, more than a year and a half later, Hill County accepted Dion’s payment of $745.77.
In a letter to Hill County Commissioner Mark Peterson, County Attorney Karen Alley indicates the county should have accepted the check in the first place. She confirmed in a follow-up email that she was saying accepting the check was the lawful thing to do.
Dion of Havre, who is a traveling nurse, said he wrote what he did on the memo as a way to protest what he believes are the high property taxes he is legally required to pay. It’s his way to communicate that he’s getting a bad deal. The ordeal had captured the attention of many state and national media outlets including The Seattle Times, New York Post, and Fox News.
Dion said he now writes the same thing on the memo lines of other checks, such as those to the dentist and car dealership, without any problems. The receivers of his checks think it’s funny, he added.
Dion’s check for the first half of his 2016 property taxes was the first time he wrote “sexual favors,” he said.
After some time he realized his check was not being processed.
His attorney, Jamie Young of The Law Office of Jamie L. Young in Havre, said the reason his check was not processed was because Hill County Treasurer Sandy Brown has a problem with her client.
“She didn’t like it. She has a personal issues with Mr. Dion,” Young said Thursday.
Mr. Dion is known by many in the community as an opinionated, colorful character.
Writing sexual favors in the memo line is a First Amendment right, Young says. It’s a form of protest. People have been doing it for a long time and Brown had no legal basis for refusing to process the check.
Young said her client turned the check in to Brown before the Nov. 30, 206 deadline.
After some time had passed and the check had gone unprocessed, Young sent County Commissioner Mark Peterson a letter on behalf of her client. The commissioner then consulted then-county attorney Jessica Cole-Hodgkinson, Young said.
What happened after that becomes a bit muddled. Young said she had received various “stories,” one of them being that the check was lost. The check accepted by the county Thursday was a freshly written one for the same property taxes — with the same memo. The accrued penalties and interest of $145.42 were waived.
On Thursday, The Herald asked Brown why Dion’s check was not processed in 2016. She said she couldn’t discuss it because she didn’t have anything to do with it anymore. The matter went to the county attorney. She was asked why it went to the county attorney in the first place. She said “code” prohibited her answering. What typically happens when taxpayers give checks to the treasurer? They’re usually processed, Brown answered. So why wasn’t the check processed in this case? She referred The Havre Herald to the Montana Association of Counties Defense Services, saying she was not allowed to talk about it and MACo would know what code she was referring to.
A MACo Defense Services attorney who said he wasn’t familiar with the situation and didn’t know who, if anyone, at MACo knew anything about it, said the county attorney is usually the best source for questions on what the treasurer can or can’t say.
Alley, the county attorney, said she doesn’t know of any law that would prohibit an elected official from talking to the press.
Peterson had not responded by publishing time with request for comment.
Going ahead, Dion said he hasn’t ruled out the idea of some form of legal follow-up in order to recoup the attorney fees he accrued.