Last week, Montana Senate President Jeff Essmann put out a press release (thanks Google cache, and screenshot) touting state Sen. Debby Barrett as being the first woman to serve as first “Speaker Pro Tem” of the Montana Senate.
But it turns out the legislative branch’s own website shows that the first woman served as Speaker Pro Tem in Montana 20 years ago – when a woman named Marian Hanson held the post. Essmann issued a correction today.
In his correction, Essmann called state Senator Debby Barrett, who has a zero percent voting record with Montana’s leading women’s issue advocates, “a trailblazer for women legislators everywhere.”
If by trailblazer, you mean following trails that lead back to the 18th century, then Debby Barrett certainly deserves the highest honor. Barrett was nominated for recognition by the National Foundation for Women Legislators by GOP legislative leadership, who have demonstrated that by “excellence” they mean the longest serving choice among a very small pool. There are only 5 Republican women in the Montana Senate today, and Barrett is the R-TEA member who has held office the longest.
The women’s group doesn’t appear to have bothered to put out their own press release on the “awards,” which is telling.