It’s hard to find anyone more menacing to polite society than Lewis & Clark Health Department head, Drenda Niemann. But Eric Merchant, Niemann’s #2 at the department, is a close second now that Gallatin County’s Matt Kelley has taken a job with a Big Pharma lobbying firm trying to push vaccine passports and mandatory vaccinations.
Her draconian policies, far more strict than anywhere else in the state and on par with the type of overreach seen on the coasts or in Canada, have terrorized taxpayers and business owners since the start of the pandemic. On paper, there is not a scintilla of evidence that Niemann’s liberty-crunching policies have done anything to shield the county from COVID-19 or even mitigate its spread to the smallest degree. Nonetheless, Niemann and her attack-dog, Eric Merchant, have ruthlessly been mistreating Lewis & Clark county residents, along with visitors to the state who have to put up with their chicanery.
The Montana Daily Gazette previously reported that Eric Merchant, Administrator for the Lewis & Clark’s Public Health Disease and Prevention Division, accosted employees and customers at a Helena grocery store for not wearing a mask, or toward employees, for not making customers wear masks.
As we reported, “the second-highest-ranking Lewis & Clark County health official, Eric Merchant, was removed by police from a local grocery store for making physical threats and verbally assaulting customers for not wearing masks.”
We explained at the time from police reports and eye-witness testimony that Merchant had to be removed by the police and was given an indeffinate trespass order, essentially serving as a restraining order from the establishment. Upon seeing customers without masks, Merchant screamed at them and at employees, demanding at one point that a female employee physically remove the customers. After the employee told Merchant to leave for causing a scene, he screamed additional profanities and called a patron a “dickhead.”
So far, Lewis & Clark County Health Department has not responded to his ouster by Helena Police, the police report, our report, or so much as acknowledged it even happened. Quite content to be above the law, Drenda Niemann has refused to answer press inquiries, and the liberal legacy press has refused to cover the event despite it being in the public record via police reports.
However, according to sources from within the Lewis & Clark Health Department, Eric Merchant has been elbowed out by Niemann, afraid that his behavior would impugn her otherwise perfect record of also mistreating the public, but with an affable smile. Unfortunately for Merchant, his behavior was recorded on documentation for the police.
An organization of activists known as Helena Facts Media has reported his ouster, or forced resignation, on their Facebook page (see below).
The organization says on its Facebook page, “Because we care deeply about Helena we’ve made it our mission to inform and spread accurate information for residents to make informed decisions. We believe by giving the people the information they desperately need can help them make changes in this city.”
The announcement by the watchdog group coincides with several similar claims made by Helena residents in social media, claiming that Merchant’s last day will be April 28. Montana Daily Gazette will bring you any pertinent updates to the situation, including verification the rumors are true if and when they become manifest.