Category: Montana Legislature 2013

Posted: March 27, 2014 at 8:03 am

TEA Party Wing Hijacks Annual Republican Fundraiser in Teton County

Dirty Tricks in Teton County

Choteau Republicans have indefinitely postponed their annual Shrimp Peel fundraiser due to party infighting over legislative primaries, but local TEA Party wing of the party has hijacked the event for its own.  Right-wingers says the event is still on and is using the popular annual get-together to feature TEA Party wing candidates and speakers instead of Republicans.

Dueling ads appeared in yesterday’s Choteau Acantha–one says the event is off, the other says it’s on.

The first ad is directly from the chair of the Teton County Central committee.  His ad states that the traditional Shrimp Peel fundraiser, which the local central committee has hosted year after year, will be postponed until after the primary elections in June.  GOP Chair Lew Clark’s ad explains that local Republicans voted 8-1 to postpone the event after it was revealed that a rightwing candidate “is trying to hijack our event.”  This man  ”voted to cancel the Shrimp peel… and claim it as his own.”

In the same paper, the TEA Partier wing has their own ad, stating that the event is on for April 5, and that the event will feature angry TEA Party senator Art Wittich to bring fire and brimstone down upon the locals for daring to support their own popular elected Republicans.  What’s interesting about the phony shrimp peel ad is that it says it’s paid for by the “Teton County Republican Shrimp Peel LLC,”  which as far as I can tell doesn’t actually exist.  Cowgirl tipsters did a business entity search at the Secretary of State website and no such entity seems to be registered.

Here’s a pdf of the Teton Republican’s ad canceling the Shrimp Peel. The competing ad which claims the annual Shrimp Peel is on is below.

That candidate the GOP chair’s ad references is presumably Jim Anderson, the TEA Party right-wing challenger to Rep. Christy Clark. Clark is a pro-business legislator from Teton County. Both Clark and Teton County’s long-time state Senator, Llew Jones, face challenges from hard right-wingers who favor ideology over pragmatism and economic growth.   Anderson self-anointed former evangelical preacher who moved here from Red Lodge several years ago and operates a business called Grizzly Sports which sells guns, outdoor wear and espresso.

Anderson wrote his own angry screed in the Fairfield Sun Times this week [PDF], in which he seems to be claiming that his attempts to hijack the event were not well taken and places blame for the kerfuffle on local volunteers who didn’t want their event hijacked by TEA partiers.

The TEA insurrectionists are angry that some Republicans had the backbone to stand up to the TEA Party minority last session and vote based on what’s good for Montana’s economy rather than TEA Party ideology.  This horrifies TEA Partiers, but Montana voters expect rational thought. TEA partiers had hoped to hijack the government during the last legislative session. They succeeded on some things, like defeating a $6 billion infusion into Montana’s economy, but not on everything.

Posted: February 14, 2014 at 6:58 am

TEA Party Republican, Dark Money Group Leader Charged with Felony Assault on 4-year-old Daughter

As KTVQ Billings reports, court documents “filed in Carbon County District Court by Assistant Attorney General Mary E. Cochenour, show Priest is accused of grabbing his 4-year-old daughter and throwing her to the ground, causing an injury to her scalp.”

UPDATE: The Carbon County News has the most Continue reading

Posted: February 5, 2014 at 7:39 pm

On claiming a bill is yours, without giving proper credit

Here we have a bill introduced by U.S. Senator Jon Tester (D-MT), which he introduced in 2011.  It was called the “Making Public Lands Public Access Act of 2011″ and uses funding from the Land and Water Conservation fund acquire lands around existing public lands that would also to improve access for hunters and anglers access to those existing public lands.

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Posted: January 6, 2014 at 10:44 pm

You Can Run from the Wingnuts, But You Really Can’t Hide

Sen. Jennifer Fielder R-TEA Noxon
Sen. Jennifer Fielder R-TEA Noxon

The vice-Chair of the state Republican Party, Sen. Jennifer Fielder  promoted the gathering of an extreme anti-government group appeared as a keynote speaker at the group’s event. But when a reporter showed up, “she quickly distanced herself from [Defend Rural America leader Kirk] MacKenzie when asked about his extreme rhetoric and ideas,” which included that “neo-environmentalists” are “domestic terrorists.”  Fielder said that the group ideas weren’t what she thought they would be.

So now she knows, and there’s no longer a way to claim ignorance.

But Sen. Fielder must not be too upset about the group’s views. She’s invited yet another Defend Rural America speaker, Doyel Shamley, to present information to a legislative hearing this Wed, Jan 8. You can see that he appears under Fielder’s portion of the Environmental Quality Council agenda.

Shamley provided training and workshops for Defend Rural America’s secessionist county organizing drive in California.  He ran one of the Defend Rural America’s pilot projects, featured in this DFA white paper.

Shamley appears on the MT EQC agenda, billed as a “natural resource consultant.”  But Doyel Shamely is so much more.

Shamely is the host of a somewhat creepy conspiracy theory program which posits that politicians, lawmakers, members of the royal family, the illuminati and others have created a “New World Order” through which they attempt to control the thoughts and beliefs of everyday people–of course, there is connection to UFO’s and aliens visiting planet Earth.

His audio book, New World Order: The Battle for Your Mind and the Truth to the UFOs, is available for $10.95 at, but for some reason has no customer reviews.

Is there a New World Order? Are they trying to control every part of our lives? Are we treated like sheep?…Are they politicians, company directors, religious leaders, royalty, lawmakers, or all of the above and more? How old is their rule? And what secret organization do they belong to?

Perhaps more importantly, are UFOs actually visiting our planet? Have they been here for thousands of years? All this and more is constantly investigated by thousands of people around the globe and nobody more than the Hour of Our Time Show*[hosted by Shamely]…Are they trying to control our minds? Are they lying about the Alien Threat? You decide.

Indeed Fielder has decided that Montana’s lawmakers need to hear from this consultant–apparently no other natural resources speaker would do.

Yes, the truth sometimes has a way of coming out, but that hasn’t stopped Fielder from tried hide from and disassociate herself from the extremist views of these “expert consultants” she consorts with.

For example, Sen. Dick Barrett (D-Missoula) provided her with an email with information about the watershed consultant hired by TEA partiers to block a tribal water rights agreement negotiated by the state of Montana and the CSKT.  Kate Vandemoer (yes, this is the Usurpathoner) has a birther blog with some pretty extreme, marginal views–and some writings that reflect the soundness of her judgement.  But Fielder got angry and insisted that the contents of Vandemoer’s “personal” blog (whatever that might mean) were not relevant.  But in the same breath, she claimed that she had never read the blog.  I encourage you to read this informative chain of emails below the fold.

The most cursory review of Vandemoer’s very public blog (Dr Kate’s View) shows that Vandemoer uses it not only to promote her multitudinous and bizarre birther conspiracy theories, she also uses it to share her views on water and watershed politics.

In a post entitled “Watershed Politics” Vandemoer writes the following. (Apologies for the long passage but they illustrate this “expert’s” state of mind.)

the landscape of our America was shaped by our Constitution, the very blood and water of our country…Upon this hallowed ground–nothing more than a chessboard to some– a dark rain has fallen for decades…it is falling and now drenching.  I remember being in the wilderness for weeks on horseback, wondering what the black ‘goo’ was on the vegetation and the rocks…This foreign rain, and the raging torrents it produces, are attempting to capture that stream and dream known as America.  It is trying to erode our landscape, our system, in order to capture liberty and train it into a controlled system of slavery, where the course of everyone’s life is determined by a single train of thought–communism, new world orderism.  The NWO has intentionally created these devastating torrents to undermine sovereignty, liberty, and freedom…indeed I have felt that the very foundation of our country is threatened…and with increasing force.

Does the NWO think it is God, such that it can flood the world with poison rain and torrential rivers to destroy all of creation, and refashion it to its liking (and control)?

She uses the blog to share her belief that climate change is a diversionary tactic to keep the public from looking into a list of conspiracy theories: such as “weather modification by geoengineering“–Vandemoer believes the government is creating natural disasters so that it may “take over our lives.”  There’s also HAARP (a secret weapon conspiracy nuts think is used for weather modification. And don’t forget “chemtrails, and microwave pulses.”

So even if Fielder doesn’t scramble to distance herself from the conspiracies, or Vandemoer’s belief that, “the Rothschilds (translated ‘Red Shield), Rockefellers, and many other monied JKhazar Jews, who together form a cabal acting like a synagogue of Satan that is in full gear enforcing its agenda on America, including Agenda 21.”  Even if Sen. Fielder does not believe that these views call “Dr. Kate’s” judgement into question, Vandemoer’s views on water as a water consultant should give any sane person pause.

For tomorrow’s legislative meeting. Fielder has invited another extremist to town.  She’s asked Ken Ivory to the legislative committee tomorrow.  Ivory is the Utah legislator who carried a bill requiring the Federal government to cede much of its land in Utah to the state.

This guy Ivory has already appeared in Ravalli County.  Actually, he’s been touring around pushing this idea to other states at ALEC conferences too–legislative language is conveniently available now in ALEC boilerplate. Montanans will remember this idea as one of the infamous nutjob bills of the 2011 legislature, sponsored by Derek Skees.

Unfortunately for Ivory (and ALEC), Utah’s Office of Legislative Research and General Counsel had to go and point out a pile of pesky case law with regard to public lands going back to the 1870s that gives the bill “a high probability of being declared unconstitutional.” And the Salt Lake Tribune has called Ivory’s effort “tilting at windmills.” Arizona rejected it.  The bill was vetoed by TEA Party Governor Jan Brewer. In Montana, the bill didn’t even make it out of committee.

But the GOP loves to throw these kinds of pointless proposals out there, in spite of the fact that it is a complete waste of public resources to do so.  It’s political grandstanding to rally the extreme-right conservative TEA Party base and to feed their antigovernment conspiracy narrative.

Tomorrow, we’re the one’s paying for it.
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Posted: January 3, 2014 at 5:07 pm

Legislator Complains About Being Left Off List of 2013’s Top Nutjobs

In one of the funniest episodes I can remember in my several years of blogging, I was contacted yesterday by a Republican state legislator, who is upset by the fact that I did not include him in my year-end list of the state’s top nutjobs of 2013 which I posted on New Year’s day. Continue reading

Posted: January 1, 2014 at 9:05 pm

Cowgirl Blog’s Top Nutjobs of 2013

It’s been another wacky year if TEA Party nutjob antics. From voting to keep prison sentences for being gay to a slew of racist remarks and terrible ideas, Montana elected officials, TEA Party activists, and candidates brought the crackpot craziness to mainstream politics in an embarrassing way.

Here’s a look back at some of the most outrageous comments, craziest conspiracy theories, and just plain bad ideas proposed by our witless leaders in 2013, Continue reading

Posted: December 17, 2013 at 7:32 am

Kalispell Legislator Files Political Action Committee with D.C. Address

Montana state Sen. Jon Sonju (R-Kalispell) has filed paperwork for a federal political action committee.

The PAC is called “Montana Solutions,” but the address and bank account for the committee are in Washington D.C.

In fact the PAC has the same address as a lobbying firm called “Crossroads Strategies.” Clients of Crossroads strategies include the company formerly known as Phillip Morris, several pharmaceutical companies, some telecommunications companies, private schools, and the NRA, among others.

Posted: December 15, 2013 at 9:55 pm

TEA Party Lawmaker Outraged Over a Problem He Created

Lies don't become him.
Sen. Fred Thomas R-Ravalli County

That state legislator Fred Thomas (R-TEA Ravalli County) is outraged about Obamacare is not news to anyone.

What’s ridiculous is that the problem he’s so worked up about is one of his own creation. Instead of directing his outrage at the television cameras, he should look in the mirror and ask himself why he insisted on blocking the Medicaid expansion–health coverage for 50,000 working poor Montanans.

In an interim committee of the Montana Legislature last week, Thomas said he was upset about a family who earns under 100% of the federal poverty level.  This family, a legislative staff report found, was too poor to qualify for a subsidized plan on the insurance marketplace and would have to pay full price–and a full price plan would cost them 40% more than a health plan without the standards that the health care reform law requires be met.

The scenario was featured in a report by the Legislative Auditor, undertaken on behalf of Thomas himself.    During the committee meeting, Thomas waived the report in front of the television cameras, spouting vitriol about the havoc Obamacare has wrought upon this family.

Problem is, this family’s plight isn’t the fault of the Affordable Care Act, this problem was created by the Montana Legislature.

The only reason this family is in that situation is because Rep. Fred Thomas and his fellow TEA Partiers refused federal funds to pay for health coverage for the working poor.  The reason that there are now some 50,000 people in Montana who are too poor to qualify for health insurance subsidies through Obamacare is that they were supposed to be eligible for health coverage for Medicaid.  That is, until the Supreme Court ruled that states could choose the reject the federal funding to pay for health care for their own working poor citizens.

The new health care reform law requires that nearly all of the costs of the Medicaid expansion (100 percent for the first three years, phasing down to 90 percent in 2020 and all subsequent years) will be paid for by the federal government.  The Affordable Care Act didn’t include subsidized insurance plans for people whose jobs paid less than 100% of the poverty level because Obamacare made them eligible for Medicaid. But Montana legislators thought that taking a vote to spite President Obama was more important than health care for the working poor, and so they lined up against the federal dollars, and many families will be forced to go without.

Tip of the hat to Sen. Dick Barrett’s blog, which featured a post last week about how Fred Thomas lied about the findings of his own staff’s report.  Sen. Barrett, a Democrat from Missoula, is also a retired professor of economics.  Dr. Barrett’s blog is a great source of “commentaries on political, social and economic issues of interest to Montanans.”  It’s well worth a read, and I’ve added it to the blogroll here.

Posted: December 9, 2013 at 9:26 pm

Reason Number 867 Why Women Don’t Take Republicans Seriously

Last week, Montana Senate President Jeff Essmann put out a press release (thanks Google cache, and screenshot) touting state Sen. Debby Barrett as being the first woman to serve as first “Speaker Pro Tem” of the Montana Senate.

But it turns out the legislative branch’s own website shows that the first woman served as Speaker Pro Tem in Montana 20 years ago – when a woman named Marian Hanson held the post.  Essmann issued a correction today.

In his correction, Essmann called state Senator Debby Barrett, who has a zero percent voting record with Montana’s leading women’s issue advocates, “a trailblazer for women legislators everywhere.”

If by trailblazer, you mean following trails that lead back to the 18th century, then Debby Barrett certainly deserves the highest honor.  Barrett was nominated for recognition by the National Foundation for Women Legislators by GOP legislative leadership, who have demonstrated that by “excellence” they mean the longest serving choice among a very small pool. There are only 5 Republican women in the Montana Senate today, and Barrett is the R-TEA member who has held office the longest.

The women’s group doesn’t appear to have bothered to put out their own press release on the “awards,” which is telling.


Posted: December 3, 2013 at 7:19 am

Willfully Ignorant

Steve Daines, imbecileAlthough accepting federal funds to extend health coverage to the working poor would help small businesses, TEA Party Congressman Steve Daines has refused to hear the truth–even when told to him by business owners at a recent listening session.
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