A special gift from MT to DC

By: 
Mikaela Koski
Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Last summer, during her final trip to Washington, D.C., as a representative of the people, Stillwater County Commissioner Maureen Davey made a special delivery.

The story does not begin in the nation’s capitol, but rather a month before at home, when Davey, along with commissioners and local government officials across the state, received an invitation from the White House to attend the “Montana State Day White House Conference and White House Residence Tour” on July 19.

Davey was already planning to attend the National Association of Counties (NACo) Conference and Exposition in Nashville in the middle of July (July 13-16). She decided that if she was already going to be on the eastern side of the Mississippi, she should take advantage of the opportunity, so Davey made the arrangements and personally paid to attend the White House event.

A UNIQUE GIFT

Together, the MACo directors and Davey decided that if they were going to celebrate Montana State Day with the White House, they should bring President Donald Trump a unique gift that represents the state.

After brainstorming and concluding Trump might not wear a belt buckle, the group decided that a pin, shaped as Montana with Trump’s slogan “Make America Great Again” on the front, would be the perfect gift. They also determined Montana Silversmiths would be the perfect local business to bring their idea to life.

Davey worked with the Silversmiths to design something the state could be proud of. A special inscription was added on the back of the pin, an element the Silversmiths created on their own: “Presented to President Trump. Made in Montana. Crafted by proud, hardworking Americans.”

Davey was impressed with the great job the Silversmiths did on the pin – they were cooperative, got the project done in a short time, and the final product was something Davey felt Trump would really appreciate.

THE PIN’S TRAVELS

The next step was to get it to the president.

On the day of the White House tour and conference, Davey carried the pin through the first floor of the White House. At each security checkpoint, she had the opportunity to show staff the state’s gift.

After the tour, the group attended a conference in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, located next to the West Wing. There, they listened to nine different speakers, including U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke (from Montana), Montana’s Senator Steve Daines and Representative Greg Gianforte, and Montana State Auditor Matt Rosendale, as well as representatives from several federal departments.

After the conference, the Montana officials presented the pin to Britt Carter, the Associate Director of the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs. Davey explained that Carter was told to “get it to the right person.”

CAPITOL NIGHT TOUR

In the evening, Daines and Gianforte took the delegation of Montana officials on a night tour of the capitol building.

Without all of the hustle and bustle of legislators, staff, and tourists that overcomes the nation’s capitol during the day, the Montana group was able to really experience the historic building up-close and personal.

The tour was Davey’s favorite part of the trip. She described standing in a room that was one of Abraham Lincoln’s favorites, and taking in the view of Washington, D.C., at night from the Speaker’s Balcony.

There was an evening vote in the House that night, and the group was able to meet Congressman Steve Scalise, the majority whip from Louisiana who was injured last year during a shooting at a Republican practice for the annual congressional baseball game.

MONTANA STATE DAY

Davey estimates that about 40 county commissioners attended Montana State Day at the capitol, along with several mayors, sheriffs, and state legislators. The officials came from both political parties, and Davey said the people of Montana were well represented at the event.

The White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs has sponsored a “state day” for each state in the country.

Attending the White House event was “such an honor” for Davey, and she said all of the participants were treated well during the well-organized conference.

A BIG THANK YOU

Although the president did not make an appearance at the conference, Davey knows he was aware all the officials were attending the event and appreciated their presence.

At the beginning of August, Davey received an official, embossed letter from the White House thanking her for attending the conference.

“My Administration is committed to building relationships with leaders at all levels of government,” the letter reads. “In doing so, we gain valuable insight on how we can best work together to serve the American people.”

Trump’s signature is at the bottom – and yes, Davey checked, the marker bled through to the back of the page.

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