People — complete strangers, mostly — have sent Jordon Dyrdahl-Roberts about $80,000 since the Helena resident quit his job this month. The still-increasing amount is, as Dyrdahl-Roberts notes, a lot more than he was making as a legal secretary for the Department of Labor and Industry. But supporters have been inspired by and sympathetic to the Feb. 7 announcement, via tweet, of Dyrdahl-Roberts’ act of conscience.
Dyrdahl-Roberts says he resigned after one of the department’s attorneys told him to keep an eye out for Immigration and Customs Enforcement subpoenas. He resigned before the subpoenas, which he assumed would be used to “hunt someone down and deport them,” crossed his desk. If they had reached him, Dyrdahl-Roberts says, his job would have been to compile the requested information, type up a cover letter and sign his name at the bottom.
The state agency processed plenty of ICE subpoenas under the Obama administration, too. Dyrdahl-Roberts tells the Indy that he may have processed similar subpoenas previously without realizing what he was doing. But once he knew, he says, he couldn’t continue to do it in good conscience.
The financial support began flowing after Dyrdahl-Roberts, who had tweeted about his family’s tenuous financial position, posted a link to his PayPal account. The account had received about $20,000 by the time he tweeted again, less than a day later, to encourage his new supporters to donate to other causes. As of press time, he says the PayPal account has received $40,000, while a separate GoFundMe set up in his name by an online supporter has raised another $38,200.
Now Dyrdahl-Roberts finds himself in a second ethical dilemma: What to do with all that cash.
Some people, he says, have encouraged him to run for office, but he isn’t interested in moderating his positions to appeal to constituents. Instead, he plans to look for a job where he can “do some good,” perhaps at an immigration law firm, or as a writer or journalist. “I feel like it’s my responsibility to do something that earns that support,” he says.
Once he finds his footing, Dyrdahl-Roberts says, he’ll consider donating any leftover contributions.