Hunting with Silencers v. General Nutjob
A wild GOP primary will soon be underway in Bozeman, where two Tea Party hotheads are going to tangle for a state house seat in a very conservative district. This will be a heavyweight bout.
The challenger is Matthew Monforton, who lost his job as a city judge. Monforton made waves for a public remark that the prophet Mohammed was “a seventh-century pedophile.” Monforton later defended Rick Hill in court, when Hill was on the ropes for having accepted an illegal contribution of $500,000. He also represented Harris Himes, the Montana pastor who said gays should be given the death penalty (and who got busted for defrauding a member of his congregation, and is now in the pokey.) All of which means that Monforton would fit in perfectly as a Republican legislator.
Washburn, meanwhile, is under investigation for having been caught up in the Meth House Scandal, in which documents found at a meth house in Colorado were found to implicate certain GOP lawmakers for illegally coordinating with a dark money group, the American Tradition Partnership. Washburn also is the author of the famous bill to legalize hunting with silencers. It made the venerated 2011 Montana Nutjob Bills list first published at Cowgirl Blog, and Washburn brought back the bill in 2013. Washburn has also called for what is essentially a poll tax, a bill that would allow only taxpayers to vote (poor people often don’t have a taxable income, nor, for that matter, do many farmers and ranchers). And he has often been the lead sponsor of bills that would make it more difficult for people to register to vote, especially if those people are likely to be democrats.
The race has already turned nasty, in a very comic way. Monforton this week filed a lawsuit in federal court, with the help of the prominent conservative attorney James Bopp, of Citizens United fame. The suit asks the court to please strike down a Montana statute which requires that candidates cite bill numbers when running ads that criticize their opponents for votes they’ve taken. The brief argues that Monforton expects to be irreparably harmed by the statute. Why? Here is an excerpt from the brief:
Candidate Monforton intends to mail letters to voters in House District 69, which encompasses the northern part of Gallatin County. These letters will contrast Candidate Monforton’s steadfast opposition to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, commonly referred to as “Obamacare,” and Rep. Washburn’s votes in the House in support of Obamacare.
Candidate Monforton has also rented a billboard facing westbound traffic on I-90 just west of Belgrade to convey the same message as the letters. His billboard advertisement will be posted beginning on February 26, 2014. Rep. Washburn opposed Obamacare in the 2011 session of the Legislature by voting against establishing a state-based exchange but later cast several votes in favor of Obamacare in the 2013 session…
Disclosing all of Rep. Washburn’s flip-flops would require Candidate Monforton to include in his letter at least one or two extra pages explaining each of Rep. Washburn’s conflicting votes, thereby distracting voters from other messages Candidate Monforton intends to include in his letters and forcing Candidate Monforton to spend more money on producing and mailing the letter than he otherwise would.
It goes on and on like this for 18 pages. In other words, Monforton is suing to invalidate a state law, and his brief in court is devoted mostly to talking about how this law is making it so terribly (and unconstitutionally) difficult for him to discuss how his opponent voted for Obamacare. How, the brief asks the court, is Monforton going to have enough space on his mailers and billboards to list all of the terrible Obamacare votes that his GOP opponent took? Hah! I encourage you to read the whole thing. It’s a total scream.
As for the bills that Monforton claims Washburn flip-flopped on, one the republican “alternative” to the Medicaid Expansion bills, a bill that probably violated federal law designed to help the GOP quash the expansion altogether–another was a bill brought by the insurance industry to require state training for the “navigators” who help people pick an insurance plan–the bill was designed in part to keep the job of helping people buy insurance largely with insurance agents, who have experience and knowledge with Montana law. It is not a bill to support Obamacare, it is a bill to mitigate its effects.
Washburn also took procedural committee votes, floor votes and votes on amendments, which Monforton is arguing are flip flops because sometimes Washburn’s votes were pro, sometimes anti, depending on the GOP strategery at the time. Expect Monforton’s theory to be duplicated in other primaries throughout the state.
Monforton has a problem of his own, which Washburn is no doubt planning to discuss. He spent most of his adult life in Los Angeles, a place that Bozeman GOP voters believe to be Hell itself. And he left under nebulous circumstances after supposedly filing a whistleblower report against his boss at the LA district attorney’s office.