by NK, Montana Human Rights Network Community Organizer
By now everyone agrees Art Wittich is the real Speaker of the House. Austin Knudsen has never been in charge of the 2015 legislative session. Wittich has been pulling the puppet strings of the Koch Brothers caucus of the house Republicans the entire time.
First, Wittich killed the healthy Montana plan with a dismissive and disrespectful committee vote, allowing no discussion among committee members, after a six hour hearing of compelling testimony. Now he’s using procedural tricks to try to kill the HELP act. He refuses to let the majority of the house vote on this compromise plan that was worked out between Democrats and Reasonable Republicans to finally pass Medicaid expansion in Montana.
A history lesson is in order; Wittich allegedly received money from the meth house bust tied to Western Tradition Partnership. Art Wittich won his race in 2010 that has been tied to the meth house and alleged illegal, unreported money spent on his campaign. Montana Commissioner of Political Practices Jonathan Motl has accused Art Wittich of violating campaign law and his trial is set for 2016. This means we have the de facto leader of the Montana House awaiting trial on charges of stealing an election.
Currently, Wittich has set the hearing for the HELP act for 11am on Tuesday April 7th. The legislature does not even come back into session until 5pm on Tuesday and the House Human Services committee normally meets on Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 3pm. It never meets on Tuesday or in the mornings. Wittich is holding this hearing when no one is in the building so he can kill it with fewer spectators. He’s playing political games with people’s lives and breaking standard procedure to do the bidding of his buddies at American’s for Prosperity and The FGA (Koch Brothers front groups).
He is holding a hearing 6 hours before the house clocks back in from Easter break. Wittich will do anything to keep the entire house from voting on the bill because he is afraid of the majority passing this bill that Montana needs.
Art Wittich is doing a spectacular job of installing himself as dictator of the 2015 Montana legislature.