As the Montana House decides the fate of the CSKT Tribe water rights agreement for the only tribe in Montana that has been denied a water compact by the Montana legislature, some troubling information has come to light involving speaker of the House Austin Knudsen and a high-profile opponent of the agreement.
On Austin Knudsen’s Facebook page there is a December 24 picture (pasted below) of a gun and holster. The wording is somewhat ambiguous, but appears as if the gun and a holster were a gift from EJ Redding. It’s emblazoned with his name and the name of his lobbying and “consulting firm” M&B Strategies, Helena MT, E.J. Redding.
As you can see from the screenshot above, Speaker Knudsen writes in his Christmas eve post that it is from Redding: “Another set of art in leather from Edward J Redding”
It certainly appears that the value would exceed $50, the maximum value of gift Montana officials may accept from lobbyists as outlined in 2-2-102(2)(a) and 2-2-204, if this is what’s happened. And, of course, the date suggests a Christmas gift.
Redding of course is a right wing operative at 47 North Communications. He is reputed to have raised the bulk of funds for the candidacy of TEA Party fundamentalist Lawrence Van Dyke for the Supreme Court. He is also an outspoken opponent of the CSKT Water Compact, and his paramour, Margaret Morgan, is a registered lobbyist for the anti-compact Flathead Joint Board of Control, as you can see from one of Redding’s anti-compact letters. It’s also interesting that neither Neither E.J.Redding nor Jon Metropoulos have registered any activities regarding the CSKT Compact with the Office of Political Practices, as of the time of this post.
It’s also worth noting that Knudsen, as has been reported, recently opened his own law firm. Redding represents the Bainville schools (which are in Knudsen’s area) and undoubtedly has some influence over the selection of counsel for various businesses and developers in the once booming oilfields.
We can only presume that the brand on the cartridge holder is registered to the Knudsen family. Some have wondered if this is even legal. It certainly doesn’t look good.
In response to this post, Rep. Knudsen said he bought the pistol himself and that his wife bought the holster for him. In the Facebook post, he does not credit his wife with giving him a holster emblazoned with a lobbying firm logo – he only says it was “from E.J. Redding.” I’ll let the reader decide what they feel is the truth.