Author Archives: Cowgirl

Confederacy of Imbeciles Cannot Stop Dark Money Bill

Lots to catch up on today in the Legislature.

First, a confederacy of imbecile Tea Partiers in the House tried to block Gov. Steve Bullock’s campaign finance reform bill, SB 289, which is being carried by a Republican legislator Sen. Duane Ankney.  It has the support of moderate Republicans and all Dems, and will therefore pass the House. It’s already sailed through the Senate. Tea Partiers can’t do a thing about it.  Although they tried to. They offered dozens of amendments, trying anything they could to bottle up the measure with unpalatable language.  Rep. Greg Hertz (R-Polson) offered 17 of the 22 amendments designed to defeat the measure.

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He then ludicrously tried to claim that the reason he doesn’t support the measure is because it didn’t go far enough–and that he plans to tell voters that he tried to address the issue of dark money.  Sen, Ankney, as you can see in the picture above, was not impressed.

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But the coalition held strong, and it passed out clean.  Now it will head to the Governor’s desk.

And when I say imbeciles, I mean imbeciles.  The best part of the debate came when a few Tea Partiers began complaining that the new law would seek to have candidates file their financial reports online, which most do already.  Rep. Kerry White (R-Bozeman) said that this was a bad idea because 50% of people in his district don’t know how to use a computer.  If White thinks that 50% of people in Bozeman can’t use a computer, then he is 100% an idiot.

Clayton Fiscus, (R-Billings) topped that, though.  He proudly informed the chamber that the year he graduated college, the word “computer” wasn’t in the dictionary. Therefore, he said, has no interest in being forced into doing anything on any computer.

And Rep. Art Wittich (R-Bozeman) decried the bill as unworthy of passage because, he said, it was all about “more regulation.”  Yes, it is.  Um, that’s the point.

Worse, for the duration of the debate, the “designated legal counsel” on the floor was the uber-angry Mathew Monforton.  At one point, he opined that the bill was unconstitutional simply because it requires candidates to file their reports online.  Even if the bill did require this, it would not be unconstitutional.  But the moderate Republian Geraldine Custer (R-Forsyth), who has been on the right side of all election bills, scolded Monforton and told him to read the bill, and he would see that it says a candidate “may” file online.  At which point he mumbled something and then sat down, and was heard from no more.

Also opposing the bill in recent days is Jeff Laszloffy of the Family Foundation, who has tried to claim that this bill would require churches to report small donations in the donation box.  This absurd claim was proven without merit.  Laszloffy, by the way, is only a host for a virus: his money, virtually all of it, comes from Greg Gianforte, the religious nut who is the presumed challenger to Steve Bullock next year.  And the two of them directed huge funds into attack campaigns during the 2014 legislative primaries, attacking moderate Republicans, many of whom ended up winning anyway.  And it was they that Laszloffy tried to lobby on this campaign finance bill.  You can understand why was shown the door by these Republican legislators, as Troy Carter points out in this must-read Bozeman Chronicle piece.

Its all another way of saying that the Tea Party has created for itself a giant mess.  As a result, we will see campaign finance reform and probably reform to close the health coverage gap as well, meaning that Montana will end up accepting the $5 billion in our own federal funds for healthcare and jobs.  We will also see an infrastructure bill, more closely aligned with the format that Bullock wants and Montana needs.

Speaking of Gianforte, incidentally, he was sited two weeks ago in the Capitol, rubbing elbows with legislators and taking their temperature on their feelings about a gubernatorial run by him.

GUEST POST *Trigger Warning* Legalizing Discrimination?

submitted by Nathan Kosted, Montana Human Rights Network Community Organizer

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Former Montana Supreme Court Justice Jim Nelson, testifying against HB 615

Imagine a world where a man could claim that domestic violence or child abuse laws don’t apply to him because his religion teaches him that a husband has the right to discipline his wife and children as he sees fit. Imagine a world where a woman must search through hospitals because her chosen hospital disagrees with the morality of a life-saving procedure for her. Imagine a world where a committed, loving LGBT couple could be denied a marriage license due to the religious beliefs of a government bureaucrat.

This is the world that extremists in Montana’s House of Representatives want to become a reality and it will if they have their way. House Bill 615 introduced by Carl Glimm (R-Kila), is a legislative referendum that Republicans are attempting to place on the ballot for the November 2016 election. This bill is inspired by the notorious Hobby Lobby decision made by the United States Supreme Court last year.

House Bill 615 would make discrimination legal in the name of religious freedom. The title of the bill is the so-called, “Montana Religious Freedom Restoration Act.” A better name for the bill would be the, “Montana Right to Discriminate Act.” The bill is supposedly meant to protect people from laws that substantially burden their religious beliefs. However, this bill allows bosses to impose their religious beliefs on their employees resulting in a hornets’ nest of unintended consequences. Several glaring possibilities are pharmacies could turn away women seeking to fill birth control prescriptions, people seeking to fill prescriptions for HIV prevention treatment, or transgender people seeking hormone treatment. Another possible consequence could be a hospital that doesn’t believe in abortion refusing to perform the procedure even if the life of the mother was at stake.

Please call or email the Senate Judiciary Committee today and tell them to vote against HB 615 http://leg.mt.gov/css/Sessions/64th/legwebmessage.asp

The law was originally passed at the federal level to protect Native Americans’ right to use peyote in religious ceremonies. How, you may ask, has it been perverted to circumvent well established laws on equality then? The answer is that after the recent case of Hobby Lobby at the United States Supreme Court the extreme right felt emboldened and responded with a backlash against equal marriage rights for all. This law is an attempt to circumvent hard fought gains made in the courts and could allow any employee of a clerk’s office to deny gay and lesbian couples their right to marriage licenses on religious grounds.

This bill would attack the great strides that we have made here in Montana to protect members of the LGBT community from employment, housing or public accommodation discrimination with the implementation of local non-discrimination ordinance’s(NDOs). In Montana the cities of Missoula, Helena and Bozeman have passed NDO’s as well as Butte Silver-Bow County. NDO’s could be nullified by the religious beliefs of only a few of the cities’ residents.

This bill would clog the courts with expensive litigation from those who claim they have a religious right to violate secular laws.

Religious freedom is one of our country’s fundamental values. We have the absolute right to believe whatever we want about God, faith, and religion, and we have the right to express our religious beliefs. These rights are guaranteed to us by the United States Constitution. Religion should never be a free pass to ignore the law or violate the basic civil rights of others. This law allows religion to be wielded as a sword and rather than a shield by encouraging people to use their religious beliefs as an excuse to violate the rights of others and emboldens people who want to use religion as justification for violating both criminal laws and civil laws.

Businesses that are open to the public should be open to everyone on the same terms. Nobody should be turned away from a business or refused service by government officials just because of who they are. Existing non-discrimination laws at the state and local level obligate business owners to serve people of all faiths aPicturend races even when doing so challenges the religious views of the business owner. Businesses that are open to the public should be open to everyone on the same terms.

Montana doesn’t need this copied and pasted law, it is a bad legislation that authorizes discrimination. Montana representatives should listen to their better angels and choose not to codify discrimination. Intolerance has no place in the law.

 

 

GUEST POST: Did Montana Just Elect A War Criminal To Congress?

by Wade Sikorski

Sikorski is a farmer and rancher in Baker, Montana. , he holds a Ph.D in political science from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, and a degree in Contemporary Political Theory. Before moving to Montana to write books and ranch, he worked as an assistant professor at New Mexico State University. He is active in the conservation movement and has written several books. 

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Ryan Zinke, a former Navy Seal didn’t want to talk, but there he was, talking.  His Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape training might have taught him how to get out of tight spots, how to not talk, even if waterboarded, but now he was caught, captured by the much maligned mainstream media, and forced to talk.   There was no escape.  He had to debate his opponents.  There were two of them, basically, the one he was running against and the Montana media, the one that was trying to figure out what he was running for, and both of them were talking democracy, accountability, and answering questions about where he would lead the nation.

Last fall, when Ryan Zinke was running as a Republican against John Lewis, the Democrat, to be Montana’s sole representative in Congress, he consistently led Lewis by significant margins in the polls.  He perhaps felt there was no reason to risk his advantage by giving his opponent a chance to attack him in a debate.  So, he took what many Montanans felt was the dishonorable way to victory: He refused to debate.

The Montana Democratic Party, the Lewis campaign, and various bloggers had a field day ridiculing the Navy Seal who was ducking out of a debate.  A whole series of guest editorials in state newspapers attacked him for not debating.  A Democrat party commercial also ridiculed him for not talking about his role in a political action committee that he had founded, for not talking about a series of election complaints filed against him, and for failing to release his military records.

And then, the Billings Gazette published an editorial saying Zinke had flunked the political courage test for refusing to debate, arguing that if he was going to represent the people of Montana, they had a right to know what he thought, how he would vote.  Imagine that—being a Navy Seal, someone whose courage was supposed to be beyond question, and having the state’s largest newspaper telling everyone you flunked a political courage test.  If war is politics by other means, courage, it would seem, is still the test of character in both.

Afraid of failing more tests of political courage, Zinke finally agreed to debate.  Then things took an even more unfortunate turn.

The editor of the Billings Gazette, Darryl Ehrlich, had been joking with the Lewis camp for weeks about how to fill the hour-long debate if Zinke did not turn up, as he was threatening to do. Someone said that maybe Lewis could play a guitar. Several times after that, Ehrlich teased the Lewis campaign about making sure John was practicing on his guitar.

When the night of the debate came, Ehrlich asked Lewis as they were waiting with Zinke to go onstage if he had his guitar tuned. They laughed.  Several minutes later, according to Ehrlich, Zinke said, “John plays the guitar. I waterboard.”

Such simple words, so admirably clear, so unambiguously precise, and yet so open to interpretation.

Unfortunately Ehrlich didn’t follow up on Zinke’s statement that he had waterboarded people. He later dismissed it as an off-hand comment, maybe a self-deprecating crack, a joke perhaps, though maybe also a veiled threat.  And the Billings Gazette has not published a story since clarifying the issue, despite being sharply criticized for not following up.

So, months later, the question remains: What was it?  A joke or a threat?  Mere bluster or the terrible truth?

There are two separate issues here: One, a possible threat against an editor, and the other, the possibility Zinke tortured people.  First the threat.

Zinke didn’t want to be at the debate, it should be remembered.  Really did not want to be there. He was there because he was shamed into it, in no small part because Ehrlich had published an editorial calling his political courage into question.  It is likely that Zinke resented the editor, and the point of his comment was to remind the editor of what kind of man he was, a Navy Seal who had done things, very possibly including waterboarding, that were not very funny at all.

So, actually, the joke was an anti-joke kind of joke, one that might make Ehrlich more carefully consider his options as an editor.

If you put it this way, a politician threatening an editor with violence because he didn’t want to answer questions about how he would lead the country, freedom of the press does become an issue.  Editors are actually where freedom of the press happens.  Writers, reporters, journalists, cartoonists, and various other kinds of artists might be the heroes of free speech, providing the content we argue over, but editors decide what gets published.  The whole point of freedom of the press is for editors to be free to decide what gets published without anybody involved in government intimidating them.  Freedom of the press is how government is held accountable, and so, even the slightest, most veiled, threat by a politician against an editor is unacceptable.

In the editorial where he reported Zinke’s off-hand comment, Ehrlich angrily denounced the Lewis camp for leaking the comment to the Los Angeles Times.  He argued it was taking an off-hand comment too seriously, playing political gotcha.

But perhaps the Lewis camp was simply, if clumsily, trying to raise a legitimate issue that should have been raised long before.  If Zinke has been involved in torturing people, and is an indictable war criminal, we need to know.  Torture is a war crime, prohibited by the Geneva Convention, the Torture Convention, various domestic laws the military operates under, and by an American tradition that goes all the way back to General Washington, who famously issued an order against it.

But the editor might still have a point, at least if it is about Zinke saying crap that just can’t be taken seriously.

During the campaign, for instance, Zinke said that Hillary Clinton was the anti-Christ.  (That’s one small insult by a man, one giant leap for womankind—final proof of Hillary’s awesomeness, if ever it were needed.  For her to be nominated to the high office of anti-Christ, which had exclusively been reserved for men, shattered a glass ceiling in place for thousands of years.)

In an email to potential supporters, Zinke said that he took part in killing Bin Laden, even though he had retired from the Navy three years earlier.  And, believe it or not, he claimed this after repeatedly attacking President Obama for using the raid for personal political gain.

In a TV interview on Newsmax, Zinke said that the first thing we need to do to deal with the ISIS invasion into Iraq is to secure our border with Mexico. Yes, that’s right, that’s the considered advice of a Navy Seal: ISIS invades Iraq, we need to stop it at the Mexican border.  No need to worry about the long and almost unguarded border Montana has with Canada, or that terrorists might simply do what the 9/11 hijackers did, and get a visa and enter the country legally; we need to stop ISIS at the Mexican border.

In an email to his supporters he warned that a “leftist infiltration is going to take over the country because of the apathy of patriots.”  And then he said that President Obama should be impeached for Benghazi.  “He’s had six years of doing his will to this country, and I believe that’s intentional dismantling of American power both domestically and abroad,” Zinke told The Huffington Post. “So, is impeachment in the cards? Let’s hope we have the votes.”

This was not an isolated attack on Obama; it got worse.  He told the Daily Inter Lake, “It’s time to stop President Obama from negotiating away our freedoms and our ability to win on the battlefield.  For those who have taken an oath to defend the Constitution against all enemies, both foreign and domestic, it is a call of duty to take back America from a commander-in-chief that is incapable of understanding the sacrifices that have been made for the values that have made America great.”

Think about that last one for a little bit—the “call to duty” from a former Navy Seal, addressed perhaps to his Seal peers, to “take back America” from their commander-in-chief?   Doesn’t that sound just a little bit like a call for mutiny to you?  Or actually, a lot?

Yes, Zinke was retired, and thus a civilian, when he said this, but he was a Seal once too, and so we must wonder: Are his words so impotent that other Seals would not take them seriously?  He was one of them, and he also had some rank among them, which, one might imagine, meant at least once they took what he said seriously, and obeyed his orders. So, now that Zinke has issued his “call to duty” to take back America from our commander-in-chief, will the Seals still take orders from a man one of their own has said is betraying America and should be impeached?

Whether or not anyone is taking him seriously, Zinke is very seriously organizing his former colleagues in special operations to support his political ambitions, dangerously politicizing military organizations that are prohibited by law from becoming political.  In 2012, Zinke organized a super PAC called Special Operations for America, to attack Obama on behalf of special operations personnel for “taking credit” for the raid that killed Osama Bin Laden.  After the election he continued to take in a large amount of money, and then, just before he filed to run for Congress, he quit his PAC, turned over the leadership to another former Seal, and then became the primary beneficiary of the PAC he had created to attack Obama.

Yes, he actually did that. According to Mother Jones, this was an innovation in campaign financing first pioneered by Stephen Colbert that no one else took advantage of until Zinke came along.  Isn’t that funny?  Campaign financing has become so much a farce, politicians are now taking their leads from comedians.

Until Zinke got involved in politics, Seals were not known for talking much about what they do, and it might be agreed both left and right, though for different reasons, that Zinke has talked way too much, but now that he has started talking about torture, and about a “call to duty” to take back America from a president that he claims has betrayed us all, Zinke needs to talk a whole lot more.  He needs to explain just what he meant when he said what he said–this time without all the crap.

Zinke is a Congressman now, setting national policy, not a Navy Seal, carrying it out.  His words actually matter, even if he says them frivolously, for political effect.  We might be tempted to dismiss what Zinke says as impotent and useless bluster, as the editor of the Billings Gazette seems inclined, but there is a limit to how much we can ignore the man’s crap.  At some point, Zinke must be held accountable for what he says, what he has done, and what he proposes to do.  It’s called democracy, holding leaders accountable.

In his comment to the editor of the Billings Gazette, Zinke suggested he waterboarded people.  Of course we can’t take that as a confession, given his belligerent bluster, but we can take it as an invitation to investigate the possibility.

Here’s a beginning: As a Navy Seal, Zinke was under the command of JSOC, the Joint Special Operations Command . According to a page on Zinke’s campaign website, which has since mysteriously disappeared, he held various positions of leadership in the Seals, sometimes as the leader of Seal Team Six. In 2004, he eventually became the Deputy and acting Commander of the Combined Joint Special Operations Task ForceArabian Peninsula, where he led a force of over 3500 Special Operations personnel in Iraq, conducting 360 combat patrols, 48 direct action missions and hundreds of sensitive missions.

Zinke’s positions of leadership in JSOC in Iraq during the war are significant because if you were a president (or a vice president) who wanted to torture people, as both Bush and Cheney surely were, JSOC would be the preferred means.  Unlike with the CIA or the regular military, Congress has not exercised its oversight powers over JSOC, and because so much of what it does is classified, oversight by the courts or the press doesn’t happen either. No one outside the executive branch asks what JSOC does, and JSOC never tells.  It is like a ghost, there, but not really there.

Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, who served as Secretary of State Colin Powell’s chief of staff from 2002 to 2005, told Jeremy Scahill, a reporter for The Nation, that Vice President Dick Cheney and former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld often bypassed traditional military command structure by relying on JSOC to carry out their orders.

According to the recent Senate investigation, the CIA tortured a couple dozen people.  JSOC, which was barely mentioned in the investigation, very possibly tortured people by the thousands, using much harsher techniques, and potentially killing a much large number than the CIA.

According to Tim Heffernan, a reporter for Esquire magazine, an elite Army interrogator said that he witnessed both physical and mental torture at a U.S. base in Iraq operated by JSOC.  In 2006, this interrogator, which Heffernan called “Jeff,” told Esquire that he had witnessed the physical and mental torture of at Camp Nama, which was, according to a tedious joke told whenever anyone asked about what happened there, short for NastyAss Military Area.

When “Jeff” objected to the treatment of prisoners there, he was reassured that the Red Cross would never know what went on there, and they would never be called to account.  Under the Geneva Convention, to make sure no one is being tortured, the Red Cross is supposed to have access to all prisoners of war so that it can document their treatment.  According to Jeff “Once, somebody brought (Red Cross access) up with the colonel.  ‘Will they ever be allowed in here?’ And he said absolutely not. He had this directly from General McChrystal and the Pentagon that there’s no way that the Red Cross could get in—they won’t have access and they never will. This facility was completely closed off to anybody investigating, even Army investigators.”

According to an article in the New York Times written by Eric Schmitt and Carolyn Marshall, JSOC routinely tortured people at Camp Nama in what was called the Black Room, where the rule was, “No Blood, No Foul.”  As long as there was no blood, the presumption of the leaders operating the camp apparently went, there was no evidence, and no one would get prosecuted for anything they did.

But actually, not even that rule applied.   “The reality is, there were no rules there,” another Pentagon official said, according to the New York Times article.  At least several detainees were beaten until they died.  The torture was so bad the CIA, incredible as it may seem given its own use of torture, bared its personnel from the camp so that they would not be implicated in anything JSOC did.  The Human Rights Watch later published a lengthy report that expanded on the Times article.

Because of the secrecy that JSOC operates under, there is no public record of how involved Congressman Ryan Zinke was with the torture that happened while he was a leader in JSOC.  Conceivably, it might be that he knew nothing of it, or that, if he did know, he was a restraining influence.  However, given his elevated position in the chain of command, and the fact that he was promoted to it during a period when the Bush Administration was interested in finding ways to torture people, one might assume he did know, or even worse and more likely, was deliberately chosen because he was willing to carry out the Bush Administration’s illegal orders.

We don’t know what Zinke did while he was a Navy Seal, since the records are almost all classified, but we do know, at least as far as the issue of torture goes, he was in the wrong place at the wrong time, serving in the wrong organization, under the wrong president (and, it should be added, the wrong vice president and the wrong secretary of defense), and, since he has retired, he has said all the wrong things, complaining endlessly about Obama’s restrictions on the rules of engagement, which presumably means limits on torture.  Given all that, the worst is easy to imagine.

According to the Convention on Torture, every country that is a signatory–as the United States is–must investigate and prosecute all instances of torture.  If they fail to do that–as the United States also clearly is–every other country that has signed the treaty has universal standing to prosecute.  So, if Zinke goes abroad, he could be arrested and prosecuted as a war criminal.

Think of what that would feel like, to have our representative prosecuted in a foreign country for war crimes.  The possibility is appalling.  So, here’s the question we in Montana must ask: Is the man we just elected to Congress a war criminal?  If it turns out he is, we cannot, we simply cannot, allow him to continue to represent us.

GUEST POST: Legislative Rape

by Anonymous

Fifty-six Montana legislators in the House of Representatives just voted to legalize rape of pregnant women.  Despicable.

House Bill 479 requires a doctor to determine how old a fetus is before performing any fetal surgery: “a person may not perform fetal surgery on an unborn child whose gestational age is 20 or more weeks without…first determining the gestational age of the unborn child or relying on a determination made by a physician.  In making this determination, the person shall make inquiries of the pregnant woman and perform or cause to be performed any medical examination and test that a reasonably prudent physician, knowledgeable about the case and the medical conditions involved, would consider necessary in order to make an accurate determination of the gestational age.”

When a fetus has been growing in the womb for less than 10 weeks, figuring out the age requires a transvaginal ultrasound.  A transvaginal ultrasound is when an ultrasound paddle is inserted into the same place babies come from: a vagina.

Fifty-six Montana legislators think it is a good idea for our government to require doctors thrust medical instruments into the vagina of pregnant women.  This is government mandated sexual intercourse without patient consent.  This is rape.  And the “patient” has to PAY the their OBGYN for this compulsory service.

My government does not have a license to practice medicine.  The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists is a nonprofit organization of women’s health care physicians licensed to practice medicine, and: “Personal decision-making by women and their doctors should not be replaced by political ideology.”

As sad as I may be by the conduct of these 56-legislators, I am heartened our Montana Constitution will prevent enforcement of this barbaric regulation.

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Note:  The author of this post also provided a copy of this letter sent to the Tennessee legislature regarding a nearly identical piece of legislation.  While the Montana bill’s sponsor, Rep. Al Olscewski, cited a handful of  foreign medical associations in his closing, you can read here what the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the American College of Nurse-Midwives, the American Nurses Association, the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, and several other American medical associations think.   The Cowgirl Blog welcomes guest posts – please email the tipline at mntnacowgirl (at) gmail.com 

 

GUEST POST: Does the MT Legislature Think MT Doctors are Inferior?

by Carol Mackin

Carole Mackin is the Website Administrator for the People’s Power League in Helena. Learn more at http://www.peoplespowerleague.info

HB587 introduced by Rep. Keith Regier has attracted little interest in the press.  (The bill passed third reading in the House on St. Patrick’s Day.)  I’ve read and reread this one-page bill and its effect seems to be that every medical practitioner around the world, except for licensed Montana doctors, can set up tele-health clinics to administer medication and induce an abortion.

Does the legislature really think there is something inferior about Montana licensing for medical doctors?  Are Montana doctors not capable of handling such a tele-health clinic?  Myself, I think Montana doctors are highly competent and I’d prefer that my doctor spoke English.

HB587 Title:
“AN ACT REQUIRING THAT CERTAIN MEDICAL PRACTITIONERS BE PHYSICALLY PRESENT WHEN PERFORMING OR PROVIDING CERTAIN ABORTION SERVICES TO A PREGNANT WOMAN; AND PROVIDING A PENALTY”

The bill defines a medical practitioner as:  “a person licensed by the state of Montana whose scope of practice includes the performance of an abortion or who is authorized to prescribe, administer, or dispense a drug or device that is intended to cause an abortion.”

TEA Partiers Caught Commissioning Secret Anti-Water Compact Report, Then Stick the Public With Unauthorized Bill

A group of TEA party elected officials in the Flathead have been caught colluding to commission a secret report they hoped would help them defeat a water rights compact for the Confederated Salish Kootenai Tribe–and stick the public with the bill.

“We did it the way we did it, because we felt it was imperative for us to keep this under wraps until we could get the report and distribute it,” said Jerry Laskody, chair of the Flathead Joint Board of Control  “We didn’t want anybody to know what we were doing.”

The Valley Journal reported this week that the TEA Partiers planned in advance how to avoid having to comply with public record laws.  Laskody claimed that the board’s attorneys had recommend that plans for the secret report be made by  “a non-quorum of the board working together” to avoid public meeting laws.  Laskody said the secrecy was needed because someone might leak information he considered “privileged.”

The Valley Journal also reported that the TEA Partiers first put up their own money for the secret report – saying they would ask the board permission to use public money to pay for it later.  However, later, the bill for $6,625 for the secret anti-compact study suddenly appeared on the board’s monthly bill list without the board’s approval.

This is not the first time the Flathead Joint Board of control has been caught in a scandal.  These same officials were recorded discussing-–in front of their own organization’s running audio recorder-–if the room was bugged after they had a conversation about how American Indians were “not Americans” and other racist statements.

Boone Cole and Jerry Laskody were recently  elected to Montana’s Flathead Joint Board of Control by TEA Party dark money groups specifically to obstruct a water rights agreement with Montana tribes.

UPDATE: If anyone has a copy of this report, please post the link in the comments or email a link or copy of it to mntnacowgirl@gmail.com and we’ll post it.

Zinke Votes to Derail Amtrak

zinkeslinkyMontana Congressman Ryan Zinke has voted for a measure to gut passenger rail in the United States and kill the Empire Builder, which stretches across Montana’s rural hi-line.  It is worth noting that Zinke was the only Republican Representative along the Empire Builder’s route to vote for killing the transportation system.  Even North Dakota’s Republican Representative saw the stupidity of Amendment No. 6 sponsored by Representative McCormick of California, that would have “Eliminated all Federal assistance for Amtrak” and voted it down. It failed 147-272.

Zinke was one of only a minority of radical TEA Partiers to vote for the Amendment. He apparently has stopped even trying to pretend and just votes how the the TEA Party groups like the DC-based Club for Growth and FreedomWorks tell him to vote, not based on what’s good for Montana.

When Zinke realized how upset Montanans were with his vote, he then claimed that he was not trying to kill this part of Montana’s economy.  Backpedalling furiously, he said he was merely firing a “warning shot” at it and is now laughably telling the press he supports the industry.  No sane individual would consider voting against something a form of “support.”

 

Montana Church Says No Gun, No Service

Pasted below is an interesting announcement found posted at a Christian bookstore in Hamilton.

The poster pretty much speaks for itself. Including the fact that if you “must bring a gun” in order to be admitted to this spiritual gathering.  If you fail to show up to the church sans heat,  you’ll be provided one at the door “if needed.”

What could be more edifying than combining male bonding, Christian fellowship, and guns?

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TEA Partier Votes to Cut Funding for State Elections Cop with Pending Legal Case Against Him

Art Wittich, sick and tired of serving the public.

Rep. Art Wittich, TEA Party state legislator from Bozeman

As the campaign finance violation case against TEA Part legislator Art Wittich moves forward, it appears that Wittich and fellow Republicans are doing everything they can to gut the resources of the Commissioner of Political Practices.

Commissioner of Political Practices Jonathan Motl had asked the legislature for the resources necessary to do the job he is charged by law with doing. But during Monday’s debate of the state budget by the full house of representatives, Wittich, and fellow Republicans, voted twice against restoring proper funding to the COPP and instead insisted in keeping the cuts made by the budget subcommittee.  You can see the votes here:

(H) 2nd Reading Motion to Amend Failed 03/18/2015 41 59

(H) 2nd Reading Motion to Amend Failed 03/18/2015 42 58

Wittich faces removal from office after documents found in a meth house showed what Motl ruled was illegal coordination with corporations through American Tradition Partnership.

Wittich got caught up in the infamous Meth House Scandal, in which documents belonging to the infamous American Tradition Partnership (ATP), were found in a Colorado meth house and incriminated numerous Montana Republican officeholders and candidates.  ATP is (was) a shady corporate funnel group whose headquarters was discovered to be nothing more than a P.O. Box.  In conjunction with that investigation, Wittich was accused of taking illegal corporate contributions from ATP.  It is estimated that they sent millions of dollars to Montana to help GOP candidates, and a few of these candidates have been accused of coordinating illegally with the group.  Jonathan Motl, the Commissioner of Political Practices, is taking several of them to court to seek their removal from office, which according to Montana statutes is the exclusive penalty for such behavior. Wittich, naturally, has accused Motl of “conducting a witch hunt.”

Wittich lost the first round of his legal effort to stop the Commissioner of Political Practices from throwing him out of office. A district judge in Helena, Judge Sherlock, issued a decision which he mocked Wittich’s motion to dismiss the case.  Lewis and Clark County District Judge Jeffrey Sherlock will hold a five-day jury trial Feb. 22, 2016, in the political practice case against Wittich, who is charged with violating the state’s political campaign laws during the 2010 primary election.