Category Archives: Legislative Races

Backpedaling Underscores Land Transfer Problems

That didn’t take long.

Republican Party leaders are already trying to distance themselves from a costly land transfer boondoggle which was supported unanimously at the recent GOP platform convention. This after word is starting to get around about how the land transfer would increase our taxes by hundreds of millions, and inflict a major blow to Montana’s tourism economy especially in communities surrounding Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks like Kalispell, Bozeman, West Yellowstone and others.

Montana Republican Party Vice Chair Jennifer Fielder tried to tell a legislative panel Thursday that a report out-of-state land grab advocates are pushing “does not recommend transferring federal lands to state ownership or management” and that “None of the recommended legislation would transfer [land] either.”

Of course, the facts have already shown otherwise. Just last month Republicans unanimously supported including the land transfer in their party platform – without an exception even for national parks.  And then there’s the fact that not just two of  boondoggle’s biggest cheerleaders, Vice-Chair Jennifer Fielder herself (fast forward to about 45 min in) and Rep. Kerry White (TEA-Gallatin County) have been caught on video supporting the lands transfer.  And video evidence now exists of nearly every Flathead area conservative candidate supporting the transfer: Oops.

Fielder’s swift and very public backpedaling underscores the political difficulties facing this idea.

A recent University of Montana poll found that 2/3 of Montanans oppose the idea, which has already become a defining issue in Wyoming’s top 2014 races (and not in a way that helps TEA Party republicans.)  Utah’s own legislative legal council said the idea is likely unconstitutional (Utah passed a bill to do this which is already facing legal problems.)  The idea faces heavy political opposition a well. As Rep. Bill McChesney (D-Eastern Montana) pointed out during the legislative panel, “This state not for sale.”

This is the second time Republican leadership has had to try to distance themselves from the ideas surrounding this land transfer. At an event promoting the land transfer earlier this year the Missoula Independent reported that a speaker from Defend Rural America called the environmental movement “domestic terrorists.”

 

GUEST POST: Fourth of July Freedoms, or Not…

[This is a guest post by Mary Ann Dunwell, the Democratic candidate for Montana's House District 84. Mary Ann says she welcomes your questions and comments at:
(406) 461-5358,
dunwellforhd84@gmail.com or
 www.dunwellforhd84.com]

Mary Ann Dunwell

Mary Ann Dunwell

Have fun and be safe this 4th of July holiday! While many of us celebrate our freedoms by kicking back, waving flags and popping a cold one, let’s not forget our neighbors who still struggle against social, economic and environmental injustices. Continue reading

The Montana GOP Hypocrite of the Week Award Goes to…

…right-wing conservative candidate Tonya Shellnut of Billings.

For writing a book chronicling her own choices and lamenting the lack of control she had over her own body–then leading an organization whose goal is the shame women and deny them freedom and control over their own bodies–Tonya Shellnut is this week’s hands down winner. 

Tonya Shellnut is the Montana State Director for Concerned Women for America, a position for which she apparently volunteers because the organization has not been able to raise any funds to pay a staff person.

“The Concerned Women for America,” as your women friends will surely tell you, is concerned with some very important stuff, especially about calling feminists sluts and telling us to keep our legs shut and denying women the freedom to obtain birth control.  Shellnut doesn’t mention the Concerned Women on her website, nor does she mention some of the aspects of her life story chronicled her book, “Women Power Revolution: shellnutbookUnderstanding True Feminism” (written like the Ron Paul Revolution graphic) in which she explains how she found that true “feminism” was of the conservative “true femininity” woman hating right-wing traditional role variety.

The book contains passages describing Shellnut’s own life, such as the time she, on her 13th birthday, decided to “get all dolled up and found any male willing to show [her] some attention” then “got drunk” and as Shellnut puts it “gave my innocence” to a 21-year old. Screen shot 2014-06-18 at 7.27.00 AM

Her book describes various other alcoholic blackouts and episodes of  “waking up completely naked with someone I did not know next to me” and finding herself “unwed and pregnant” which is of course a very big no-no in the right-wing Concerned Women for America doctrine.

Indeed, Shellnut also writes that she was a victim of sexual abuse in her book.  For lamenting this lack of control over her own body, then signing up up to lead a movement which denies other women that control makes Shellnut a hypocrite.  You can read more passages from her book here, here, and here.

Concerned Women of American made a stopover in Montana last election cycle as part a bus tour of Chick-fil-A restaurants and “parking lots near Chick-Fil-A”s  to tell America about their highly credible organization. According to the watchdog group Right Wing Watch,  the Concerned Women for America are concerned that health care reform violates each and every single one of the Ten Commandments, that gays are discriminatory bullies who hate American democracy, that climate change science is a conspiracy against poor people, and that President Obama wants communists to control America’s children.

And speaking of the ten commandments, as anyone who has ever driven through the Flathead knows, one of the Ten Commandments is “Though shall not bear false witness.” But this very God fearing TEA Partier seems to have a problem with the truth when it comes to her affiliation with the TEA party. Shellnut claims to have no affiliation with the TEA Party, you see.

Shellnut TEA Party 1   photo 2 copyYet she was eager enough to affiliate with them when it came time to appear as a speaker about preserving “our” legacies at their gatherings–and to be endorsed by them on various TEA Party Facebook pages, as you can see from the screenshots below. When November comes around, Montana voters should tell Shellnut to keep her hypocrisy–and her backwards views on women, LGBT Montanans, health care, science, and education to herself.  They don’t belong in Montana law. tea party shellnut 2 TEA party 1 shellnut shellnut tea 3

Political Quick Hits

Closed Primaries

At the Flathead Memo, James Conner explains why Republicans are unlikely to adopt Monforton’s closed primary resolution.  As usual, it’s a good analysis.

Freedom Fighters

At the Missoula Independent, reporter Ted McDermott has an incredible piece on a Montana militia member who organized militia types from around the U.S. to descend on Cliven Bundy’s ranch and claims to have led Bundy’s militia battles during the Nevada rancher’s standoff with the BLM.

The militia member, an Anaconda man named Ryan Payne who lives “off the grid” with his grandparents, also shares his troubling conspiracy theories.  These include his belief that slavery never took place in the U.S., and why he believes his fight was “just the first battle in the fight to reclaim America.” Here’s Freedom Fighter.

Brought to You by ALEC

Anyone who cares about politics should watch the new expose by Montana PBS, Brought to You by ALEC which sends a reporter along with Montana legislators  to a conference of the  American Legislative Exchange Council or ALEC. As Cowgirl readers know, ALEC is the bane of workaday Montanans’ existence. It’s corporate America’s mainline to corrupting the lawmaking process.  At resorts in closed-door “summits” they write “model bills” and instruct GOP state legislators to force them through back home.

The PBS expose includes some telling interviews with Republican state legislators Sen. Roger Webb (R-Billings) and Rep. Dan Salomon (R-Ronan).  Roger Webb is the guy who was convicted of beating and shooting his neighbors’s pets Katie and Alli, both black labs.  Salomon is known for his outrage over the fact that Congress dared to ask a few ALEC members and donors for their views on “stand your ground” legislation, which was an ALEC boilerplate bill.  ALEC found itself facing a mass exodus of major donors after it became public that the stand your ground laws were ALEC’s doing.

Anyway, the documentary has some great moments. There’s the clip of Dan Salomon at 11:25 starting to explain how the public isn’t allowed into the ALEC tasks forces. He then catches himself midstream and says the actually doesn’t know if the public is locked out.

Then there’s the moment at 7:05 when Roger Webb admits the bulk of ALEC’s revenue comes from corporate donors with a vested interest in the legislation they’re pushing.  He says this doesn’t bother him in the least, because to him ALEC funding this is no different than businesses supporting Girl Scouts and Little League.

Screen shot 2014-06-13 at 6.19.36 AMThen there are the several shots of TEA Party leader Art Wittich lunching at the ALEC conference.  Wittich is not interviewed in the video.  Presumably he was smarter than Webb and Salomon and refused.  To be sure, the report should have included footage of Wittich refusing to be interviewed on camera.  It also should have looked more into all of the various ALEC bills introduced in Montana, instead of just focusing on one.

But overall the expose was well done.  By far the best part of the video comes toward the end, where Montana Family Foundation leader Jeff Laszloffy claims on camera –over and over again–that there was “no connection, absolutely none” between his public school privatization campaign and bill last session and ALEC.

The reporter then shows how Laszloffy’s bill is almost a word for word copy of the ALEC model bill.  When Laszloffy tries to claim that charter schools aren’t for-profit corporations, and the piece shows financial and investment reports showing the high profitability of these private charter schools. The documentary also exposes how ALEC funded the PR campaign Laszloffy used to push these private charter schools in Montana–and many other connections between ALEC and the Montana Family Foundation.

These connections include jointly funded surveys by ALEC and the Family Foundation and articles trumpeting the Family Foundation private school push, all of which appear in Laszloffy’s groups legislative testimony.    The ALEC bill Laszloffy was caught on tape lying about was sponsored by Austin Knudson.  You can watch the entire expose online here. Kudos to Montana PBS reporter Anna Rau and all the PBS staff involved in this report.

 

TEA Party Republicans Outraged Over Bill to Require Consensual Sex

TEA Party Republicans are none too pleased about a bill proposed in California that would acknowledge that women aren’t consenting to have sex with you just simply by being alive and of a legal age. Senate Bill 967, the Student Safety from Sexual Assault bill ,would mean that silence or not protesting enough is no longer considered sexual consent on public college campuses.  It would mean women aren’t consenting to having sex with you by not saying no, rather they consent by saying yes.  The bill also requires colleges to implement comprehensive prevention programs addressing sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking. Most men want to have sex with women who want them back and would welcome rape and domestic violence prevention programs on campus.  But that didn’t stop TEA Party Republican Mike Miller from rushing to his Facebook page to express his outrage over the bill this week.  Miller also posted this article, which grossly distorts the purpose of the bill.  He calls the proposal an unwanted intrusion and “control” over “what happens in the bedroom.”

GOP candidate for legislature Joe Dooling of East Helena couldn’t resist joining in.  He responded that consensual sex “might be a bit of a ‘mood’ killer.”   To be sure, it could be that it is the domestic violence prevention programs that Dooling is calling a “‘mood’ killer.” Dooling doesn’t specify. Here’s the screenshot: Miller Facebook   Miller tweeted his shock at the proposal too, screenshot here. Miller Tweet   He’s claiming to be upset that the law would be “tough to enforce” while omitting that when women are considered to automatically consent to sex at any time, rape laws are tough to enforce. The feminist blog Sasha Said writes:

The [current] law presumes women old enough to legally have sex to exist in a state of perpetual consent. Unless you are able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt–a very high standard–that you did not consent to sex, the law assumes that whatever dude came along and forced himself on you had the right to do so.

The Montana Commissioner of Political Practices has called for Miller to be removed from the ballot for political practice violations.   Dooling will face the popular former democratic candidate and former state Rep. Jill Cohenour in the November.