Monthly Archives: September 2012

GOP Candidate is Accused of Sexual Assault

Hides from reporter, and has his mother answer the tough questions

A former University of Montana student has come forward to say that she was sexually assaulted four years ago, when she was a student, by Nicholas Schwaderer, who is now a GOP candidate for the Montana state legislature.  The accuser, Laura Williams, says she had thirteen drinks on her birthday and was sexually assaulted in her drunken semi-conscious state.

Schwaderer denies the allegations and notes that the police conducted an investigation and that no charges were filed.  He has also threatened a defamation suit against anybody making “slanderous statements” against him.

It’s a little murky, from today’s explosive Missoulian story, whether the University or the DA’s office ever fully or sufficiently conducted an investigation into the woman’s allegations.  Also unclear is what type of physical evidence exists.  The woman seems to imply there is, or was, documentation of bruises and other injuries, but the article refers specifically only to a bloody nose, that Schwaderer says occurred when they accidentally butted heads during a consensual encounter.  No charges were ever filed by prosecutors and the Missoula DA Fred Van Valkenberg says the case wasn’t charged because it “lacked proof.”  This should concern us because assaults often occur without leaving a physical trace.  Sometimes, the victim’s testimony is all we have.

Also, the woman says that she approached Will Deschamps, the Montana GOP chair, telling him that that Schwaderer was bad news and should be discouraged from running. Deschamp basically told her to scram.

The last thing UM needs right now is a rape allegation that was not taken as seriously and professionally as possible by the University administration.  But it seems, at a minimum, that the Dean of Students looked into the matter and found enough to suspend the student registration of Schwaderer.  Right now, the Dean of Students will not comment on the case because it involves private sexual and medical affairs of a former student.  But the student herself seems to be waiving that privilege, so perhaps more facts will come to light in the future.

Also, while Schwaderer is entitled to the presumption of innocence here,  there is one thing that we have all learned definitively about him from reading the Missoulian piece: Schwaderer, as a candidate, is not yet ready for prime time.  As the article recounts, when the Missoulian reporter called Schwaderer to get his response to these allegations, he handed the phone to his mother to respond on his behalf.  She, in turn, had a lawyer send an email to a reporter.

When legislators cast votes, they are not allowed to have their mother with them in the chamber to help them out, nor their lawyers, nor their guardian angel, nor their favorite teddy bear.  The legislature is for adults. And while it’s fine to live with your mom, you can’t have her stand in for you when a reporter calls to ask you whether or not you sexually assaulted somebody.  Nor can you have your lawyer answer.  You are running for office.  You must directly answer these questions.

So perhaps Schwaderer should be looking for a different line of work, something other than politics.

As for his background and qualifications for office, Schwaderer lists among his previous jobs a stint at the Montana Policy Institute, where he says he “learned how to scrutinize policy.”  For those of you that are not familiar with the MPI, it is a right-wing think tank based in Bozeman that publishes the Montana Watchdog.   As to his philosophical beliefs, he says in an audio statement on his campaign website that he believes that “in a truly free society, the government will not be the avenue of first resort for problems that can be solved by family, friendship and community.”

And, a tipster informed me today that Schwaderer has been an active comment blogger on the Missoulian blog called Missoula Red Tape.

And here is an excerpt of a comment he recently blogged, in a discussion about HIV and discrimination against lesbians and gays:

I’m a “closet libertarian”, so you can guess where I personally stand on the issue. That said I don’t see the relevance of “debating” the origins of HIV, how clean a colon is or where we’re intended to have sex.

That said, I’ve seen some pretty scary vaginas.. And as for “intended to have sex”- even us straight blokes won’t object to the occasional blowy, yeah? ;)

By “blowy” I assume he means blowjob.

Well, he’s gonna get another kind of blowied: blowied out, as in, he’s gonna get his ass kicked in his race for the legislature.  My guess is that the GOP will not spend a dime on him, and that the Dems, consequently, will pick up a seat that would usually go Republican.



Foxy Fact Check

The Washington DC group known as the Republican State Leadership Committee (RSLC) is spending $700,000 of corporate cash to try to defeat Pam Bucy.  But they couldn’t find a source to back up the lies they are spewing forth in their TV ads.  So, they simply made one up.  They cite a Great Falls Journal article (there’s no such newspaper) as evidence that “Pam Bucy favors job-killing Obamacare.” Here’s the screenshot:

Also, there is nothing in any paper, real or imagined, supporting the idea that Bucy “favors Obamacare.”  The only time Bucy has opined on any matter related to healthcare reform was when she opposed Montana’s joining of a lawsuit against the Act, on grounds that it would have been a waste of taxpayer money (which it would).

Johnson Defends Illegal Bonuses

The Billings Gazette has endorsed Linda McCulloch for Secretary of State this week.  The endorsement isn’t suprising.  McCulloch has done a great job in the office.

What is suprising is that Brad Johnson is still trying to defend his sullied record.

Johnson looted the SOS office by handing out giant bonuses to his political staff on his last day in office (also his first day in rehab for alcoholism), which is against the law.  Johnson appeared in the same Gazette story admitting that he accepted the finding that the bonuses were illegal “at face value.”

The Gazette writes:

But when McCulloch took office, she found that Johnson had promised about $58,000 in bonuses to nine of his appointed staff members who no longer worked for the office — bonuses that he directed to be paid after McCulloch took office. The bonuses were not paid after a state attorney advised her that payment would be illegal.

Johnson said in a recent interview that he did nothing wrong.


You can read the rest of the Gazette’s endorsement of McCulloch here.  The Gazette also endorsed Monica Lindeen and Pam Bucy this week.

GOP Candidate Appears in Saucy Devil Costume on Newscast

Sandy Welch Official Facebook Profile PicThe devil is in the details, as the old saying goes.

GOP candidate for State School Superintendent Sandy Welch has adopted a creative new strategy to come across as more friendly, hip, and fun.

A new photo depicts the candidate in a what looks like a saucy devil costume, complete with horns and a lacy top.  The photo first appeared on the candidates Facebook page (left) and has since made an appearance in the television coverage of a recent education debate.


Here’s the video:


Until now, the Welch campaign has faced an uphill battle in many respects. First, the candidate is relatively unknown, having never held elective office. Second, Welch has come across as a little bit angry and negative in the past after dumping on Montana public school classrooms because she thought it would help her politically.

Those days are over. Image, as they say, is everything.

At this time, it is not clear with the saucy devil is a is a permanent addition to the campaign image or a special Halloween themed release.  Kudos to Welch are in order for her creativity and willingness to think outside the box.

University Of Phoenix

This time of year, many Montanans consider themselves Cats or Griz – but in the gubernatorial contest, it looks like there may be a couple of University of Phoenix fans in the mix.

Today it was reported that the Libertarian candidate, Ron Vandevender, has received his “certificate in business management and finance through home schooling.”

And after he quit Congress, Rick Hill got a degree from the “online law school program” at Concord Law School in Los Angeles – which is not an accredited school.

It seems as Bullock is the odd man out – actually getting college degrees from schools at which you  actually had to show up for class.

Out of the Crackpot, into the Fire

The former Lake County justice of the peace resigned last month after he became the subject of sexual harassment complaints. But that hasn’t stopped Edwin Jonas, a radical conservative with ethical baggage of his own, from jumping into the race.

Justices of the peace make life-changing decisions for others in court.  They handle things like DUIs, search warrants, poaching, probation and parole violations, misdemeanor crimes–even initial felony filings.

Yet the post requires little in terms of qualifications.   You don’t need any legal training or even a high school diploma to run. The only qualifications required by law in order to run for the job, says a Lake County Commissioner are that you “be at least 18 years old, and breathing. And, I think you have to have been a resident of the county for a certain amount of time.”

Candidates aren’t even required to have a squeaky-clean background.

Enter Edwin Jonas.  Jonas was a New Jersey lawyer–until a court suspended his licence to practice law for, “engaging in conduct in connection with the practice of law that is prejudicial to the administration of justice.”   Montanans may remember Jonas as one of the world class candidates GOP leadership nominated to be Montana’s Commissioner of Political Practices. Intelligent Discontent reported on Jonas’s nomination here.

Edwin Jonas IIIAlthough Republican leaders may think this is the perfect guy to be passing judgement on Montanans,  I doubt the good people of Lake County will agree.  Especially after the last guy left under a cloud.

Not only does Jonas have ethics problems in his past, he also has some wacky beliefs.  Seems this guy is a member of a select group of wingnuts who signed a wacky anti-government pledge.

Jonas, along with Derek Skees, Tim Ravndal, and Neil Livingstone pledged to, “defend state sovereignty” and to  ”oppose, or modify to eliminate, or negate, every Federal law, regulation, or bureaucracy” deemed not wingnutty enough. (Probably the Civil Rights Act is on the list.)  As James Conner at the Flathead Memo reports, after reading this pledge  “you might, in a contemplative moment, hear the faint click of boots as self-appointed militiamen march through darkened streets by torchlight.”

The voters of Lake County will have to decide whether someone with these beliefs should hold any government office–little alone a judicial one.  The outgoing Justice told the Missoulian that he resigned because, “Judges are – and should be – held to very high standards of conduct, both in their professional and personal affairs.”  On this issue anyway, he’s right.

Jent Miffed

Montana state Senator Larry Jent is miffed at me because I drew attention to his anti-birth control vote in the legislature last week.  On Jent’s Facebook page he claims that the GOP bill he’s supporting

“did not even mention contraception…It seems that cowgirls lie as well as Karl Rove”

Here’s the screenshot:

In fact, the bill gives the legislature specific authority over what’s covered or not in state worker health plans.  The entire discussion in committee made this clear. In this video, you can hear the committee staffer specifically assuring the legislators that yes, this would give them the authority to remove:


“contraception other things that could be very don’t know, health and wellness for women.”


We will give Mr. Jent the benefit of the doubt and assume that he simply misunderstood the bill, and did not know what he was truly voting for. A general rule of thumb for Democrats in the upcoming legislature should be: when wing-nuts propose something, it is most likely a bill that is designed to advance right-wing ideology, not make things better for Montana citizens.  The bill in this case was proposed by Dave Lewis. While not a wing-nut in every sense, on abortion and birth control he is way out there (right, Dave?).

Education Debate Recap

Sandy Welch Official Facebook Profile PicTonight, the candidates for Montana’s chief state school official debated in Helena. The debate, which was broadcast live on the Northern Broadcasting Network, was a clear win for Denise Juneau.

The candidates differed on many issues: notably, using your tax dollars to subsidize private schools.  Juneau opposes it, as do most Montanans. Welch supports it.

Juneau ran on her record of Montana’s kids scoring among the top ten states in the nation for reading, math, and science.  Welch said she thought some changes to “process” were in order, but didn’t offer specifics.

The candidates also differ vastly in experience.  Juneau has a post-secondary degree from Harvard in education and a law degree from U of M, and has worked in education in Montana and as a teacher her entire life.

On the other hand, Welch is a transplant from California who lacks familiarity and experience with local education concerns.  When asked what qualifications she had to advocate for education in Montana, Welch cited—I kid you not—her work as a legislative staffer in the infamous Bat Crap secession session of 2011.  Not something I would admit in public–even if I were one of the 18-year-old college Republicans who typically fill these positions.

The AP has a recap of the debate online here.

Congressional Debate Preview

Montana’s Congressional candidates debate tonight, and it’s likely Daines is worried.  He’s definitely not going to want to talk about his unpopular plans to end Medicare and cut Social Security benefits.  So, Daines’ major goal tonight will be to avoid discussing it.

This isn’t going to be easy. Daines is already on the record saying in the Billings Gazette that  he would have voted for the so-called Ryan budget, the conservative budget blueprint that was endorsed by the GOP-TEA-Party controlled House.

This budget would end Medicare’s guaranteed benefit in favor of taxes for oil companies–and give tax breaks to corporations who outsource American jobs overseas. The Congressional Budget Office estimated it will increase health care costs by an extra $6,359  for every future Medicare beneficiary.  That means all of us, if we’re lucky enough to live that long.

The non-partisan Center on Budget and Policy Priorities wrote:

“The measure […] stands out as one of the most ideologically extreme pieces of major budget legislation to come before Congress in years, if not decades. […] The legislation would inexorably subject Social Security and Medicare to deep reductions.”

So, Daines desperately needs to try to switch topics. But rather than coming up with anything of his own to talk about, Daines instead decided to plagiarize his own opponent’s campaign ads.  In his new ad released today, Daines repeatedly calls himself a problem solver, something Kim Gillan said about herself in her first television ad 19 weeks ago.

If Daines has any success in tonight’s debate it will be because he’s using Gillan’s lines.

The debate will air live on MontanaPBS, TONIGHT, SEPTEMBER 25, from 7 – 8:30 PM.  It will also be simulcast on Montana Public Radio and Yellowstone Public Radio, streaming on-line at

Right-wing Pastor on Trial for Fraud Says He’s the Victim…of “Religious Bigotry”

A Montana pastor charged with setting up fake companies to steal the life savings of $150,000 from a member of his congregation, says he is the victim of “religious bigotry” by state officials the Missoulian reports.

Pastor Harris Himes, who is renowned for his attacks on women and gays, is facing several felonies for theft and fraud.  Himes and another right-wing pastor who conspired with him in the scam lured the victim to an abandoned building in Mexico that they had claimed was the site of their “investment” and then left him.  This looks pretty bad.  Presumably when you steal money from a gringo and leave him in the middle of Mexico, you’re hoping he doesn’t make it back state-side to turn you in.

The scam was shut down by Montana Commissioner of Securities and Insurance Monica Lindeen and Ravalli County authorities.

Himes, who is from Hamilton filed court documents that said “bias against conservative Christians” rather than his crime, led to charges against him.

He lobbied heavily in the legislature for bills to repeal the ban against discrimination against gays, and also for bills to eliminate Montana’s constitutional right to privacy. During the 2011 legislative session, he even told legislators that he believes gay people should be put to death.

Himes partnered with TEA Party legislators like Bob Wagner and Derek Skees to back outrageous proposals like the birther bill, among others.