“Much like sirens, mermaids will sing to people or to gods to enchant them, distracting them from their work and causing people to walk off a ship’s deck or to run their ship aground” –Wikipedia article on mermaids.
Former Congressman and Gubernatorial hopeful Rick Hill’s candidacy for Governor has met an unusual obstacle, rarely seen in politics: a mermaid. And at least one conservative group is not pleased about it.
In an e-mail that seems to have made the rounds this weekend, Montana Conservative Families, one of a number of right-wing social groups in Montana that hold candidates accountable if they stray from conservative principles, has dredged up some sordid details of Hill’s adulterous past.
In local newsclippings dredged up by MCF, Hill admits that while married with young children, he was having an affair with a barmaid at a lounge in Great Falls. At this bar, waitresses take turns slipping into bikinis and mermaid tails and jumping into a tank behind the bar, swimming around and blowing kisses to the patrons.
A few commenters on this blog have previously hinted at Hill’s philandering, but a woman named Nancy Davis, apparently connected with MCF, has now posted dozens of stories from the late 1990s not only about Hill’s affair with the barmaid, but also his messy divorce and several wives. One of these articles reports that Hill’s first wife once put her three children in the car and drove to the Sip and Dip, where Hill was hanging out with the barmaid. They asked daddy to come home, but he told them to scram.
In Montana politics, adultery, in and of itself, is off-limits as a discussable issue, until the politician makes it an issue. And Hill did just that, with two unfortunate decisions that he probably now regrets:
1) When Hill was running for re-election in 2000 (before he suddenly dropped out of the race), he trashed his opponent, Nancy Keenan, for “lacking an understanding of family values” because “she has no children of her own.” It was later revealed that Keenan had had a hysterectomy after cancer as a young woman. Hill’s accusation was a calculated and typical Montana GOP veiled suggestion about lesbianism. It was as ugly as politics can get. There were hundreds of thousands of robo-calls all over the state, asking voters if they were “concerned about an unmarried and childless woman representing Montana in Congress.” In the 1990s, these GOP playbook-tactics worked like magic.
2) In his 1998 re-elect campaign, it was revealed that Hill’s new (second) wife was helping his campaign by secretly communicating with a third party group, on the production of an attack-ad against Hill’s opponent, Bill Yellowtail. This campaign ad accused Yellowtail of (you guessed it) lacking family values, based on the fact that he’d hit his wife many years earlier. (Zero sympathy here for Yellowtail). The FEC split 2-2 on whether to prosecute Hill for breaking federal law, which forbids coordination between a campaign and third-party groups.
Upon hearing Hill decry Yellowtail’s lack of family values, Hill’s first wife came public because she said she was tired of watching Hill attacking others for flaws that resembled his own. In a press conference, she not only recounted the Sip and Dip tale (or tail), she also alleged that Hill had been emotionally abusive as a husband, and had also dragged her through an awful 8-year custody battle.
Hill will have a bumpy ride from here on out. At least one conservative blog is already lowering the boom on him. And based on her Facebook page, the woman who is the source of the e-mail appears to have strong ties with conservatives, counting numerous right-wing social types, including a fair number of legislators, among her friends.
Also listed is Ken Miller, one of the six GOP primary candidates, a hard-core religious conservative from Laurel who, interestingly, appears as the only “follower” of the nasty articles that have been posted about Hill.