GOP Legislator Junkets Exposed

Today, new evidence of the extent to which Montana’s legislature has been corrupted by out-of-state corporate interests has come to light.  Citizen advocates have released documents showing that several Montana legislators received all-expense paid junkets where they were wined and dined by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).  The latest ALEC extravaganza kicks off tomorrow in Washington D.C.

As Cowgirl readers know, ALEC is the bane of workaday Montanans’ existence. It’s corporate America’s mainline to corrupting the lawmaking process.  At lavish, closed-door “summits” they write “model bills” and instruct GOP state legislators to force them through back home.

ALEC won’t say which Montana lawmakers are showing up for tomorrow’s posh retreat. However, documents released today reveal some of the state lawmakers who were in on these junkets from 2006-2008.

This influence-buying scheme is illegal in some states, and should be in Montana. Probably some smart democratic legislator is already coming up with a bill to this effect.

The list of the Montana junkateers who are still in office includes:

Elsie Arntzen R-Billings
David Howard R-Park City
Lee Randall R-Broadus
Llew Jones  R-Conrad
Cary Smith R-Billings
Wendy Warburton R-Havre
Scott Sales R-Gallatin County
Jesse O’Hara R-Great Falls
Tom McGillvray R-Billings
Roger Koopman (now on the PSC)
Verdell Jackson  R-Kalispell
Jeff Essmann  R-Billings
Debby Barrett R-Dillon
Rick Ripley R-Wolf Creek
Bob Lake R-Hamilton
Krayton Kerns R-Laurel

Besides those listed above there are many other legislators who are members of ALEC.  Some have already been busted directly introducing ALEC bills, including: Mark Blasdel, Jason Priest, Ted Washburn, Scott Reichner, Pat Connell, Tom Berry, Jeff Welborn, and Jon Sonju.

What kind of laws is ALEC pushing this year?  Lots.  One way to find out if a bill is ALEC boilerplate is to compare it to the lists of the latest model legislation from the various corporations which can be found here.  Examples of new model ALEC bills include:

  • a law to require Attorneys General to do the legislature’s bidding,
  • requirement that all public employees must personally pay the costs of producing public documents unless the printed item does not display the publication’s printing cost,
  • a resolution for a constitutional convention to eliminate consumer protections,
  • repeal of voting access laws,
  • and ironically, a bill to create a new government commission to identify ways to cut to state government–at taxpayer expense,

and dozens more.  Some of the bills are designed to enhance corporate profits by stripping consumer protections from the laws, while others are “message” bills designed to enhance GOP chances in upcoming elections by forcing democrats to vote on controversial, if impractical, bills.



23 Comments on "GOP Legislator Junkets Exposed"

  1. This data is just begging to be mined. Some of these documents show drafts of the various model bills and which changes were deleted or vetoed by the corporations–others show which concepts the corporations rejected, and what kind of Karl Rovian “spin” edits are made. I’m going back in for another look. There are hundreds of pages of this stuff.

  2. Does anyone really think Randy Rickman et al is going to look into this? It’s up to us folks. Find out what your legislator is sponsoring and compare it to these lists. If we can prove our local lawmakers are putting in boilerplate bills from other states instead of listening to their constituents we can defeat a few more of these bat crap ideas.

  3. VETO! VETO! VETO! VETO! Go get ’em Steve!

  4. First, thanks for the post and for this blog which is hilarious and a daily read for me. I would not have known about the ALEC trips otherwise. On that note, I respectfully request more posts about Steve Daines, as he has been ignored by the media and it is virtually impossible to find out what he is doing. Thank you again for the opportunity to provide this feedback.

  5. To see what Steve Daines is up to in Washington, try going to I don’t know if he will be listed yet.

  6. A GOP legislator who quit and left the state–but refused to resign to keep his government health care–is getting a costly weight loss surgery and sending us the bill. James Knox is even bragging about it on his blog!

    • This is disgusting. This is a guy who never hired a full-time employee so that he could avoid paying for employee insurance. This is a guy who ranted and raved about wasteful government spending in his election bid, and voted in favor of gutting state employee benefits. And here he is getting an expensive surgery done on our dime. Shameless.

    • It is truly amazing how the left takes a fact and then tries to spin it. Knox’s new employer’s health insurance is paying for the operation with Knox picking up the portion that is not covered. Montana taxpayers will pay nothing for this operation.

      It did make for a good story and a way to inflame people as evidenced by the comments. I guess this qualifies for the satire and gossip this site is famous for as it certainly is not based on any facts.

      • Larry Kralj, Environmental Rangers | December 1, 2012 9:11 AM at 9:11 AM |

        Well, if tubby ain’t payin’ for the whole thing, SOMEone else is pickin’ up the fat bastard’s tab! BTW, Jumbo Jimmy had HEART sugery on our dime. Time to ween that tub of lard OFF food!

        You see, fat bastards cost MORE than smokers! Time to institute a FAT panel! You wanna eat like a friggin’ pig, you die!

        You see, I AM a conservative! bwhahahaha!

        Fat panels, an idea whose time has come!

  7. Look this is quite simple. Current legislators need to be asked whether they participated in this or not–for the years since 2008.

  8. GOP also wants to split out Parks from FWP, and thus CREATE more bureacracy!! GOP exhibit ‘hypocrisy of bureacracy’ and will indeed hire ‘thought police’ to
    pitch Earth is only 4,000 years old, really??

  9. EVERY BILL NEEDS TO GO THRU AN ALEC ‘SMELL’ TEST and citizens should first DEMAND to know the extent of ALEC’s fingerprints. We can ask these
    questions right to ’em, via legislative
    hotline, in person, etc. Make ’em squirm.

    • I’m certain that our legislature has something like your suggestion in mind. Every bill will likely go through an ALEC ‘smell’ test, to see if ALEC’s underwriters approves of it.

  10. Why not just outlaw this type of thing on both sides, Democrats and Republicans. Democrats have their model legislation as well. Lets be consistent.

Comments are closed.