Political Gossip, Satire, and Analysis from MT's Capital City "...an uncanny knack for sharp insider information..."--AP "...amazingly accurate inside info..."--Politico.com "...a viral sensation..."--Markos Moulitsas, Daily Kos "Among the best state-based political blogs in the nation."--Washington Post
Joining Rep. Hagstrom in embarrassing their respective states are a Texas Republican who says the Noah’s ark flood proves that global warming is a hoax (because we know it wasn’t caused by oil refineries). Also featured was a gun advocate who called his own legislation “as good as a three-dollar bill.”
Embarrassingly, Rep. Hagstrom is now trying to claim that he never said what he’s caught on video saying:
“I haven’t seen the tape [of my remarks], but it should show I said sex is for procreation and sex is for pleasure,” Montana state Rep. Dave Hagstrom (R) said. “That’s what I said. I don’t know if that’s what the video says I said… Of course sex has two purposes.”
In reality, the entirety of every house floor session is posted online. It shows Rep. Hagstrom exactly what Hagstrom said–and didn’t say. Perhaps if he had known this he wouldn’t have tried to claim otherwise. Anyone who wishes to verify can do so by watching the entire discussion of the bill on the links below. KXLH’s clip of Rep. Hagstrom’s remarks is online here.
The buzz is growing as Montanans find out about the extraordinary actions Essmann is taking to manipulate an electoral advantage for Republicans in the next election. Essmann broke the Senate rules to force two bad GOP ideas onto the ballot. The GOP uses ballot referenda to circumvent the legislative process and push through ideas that are so egregious that they face a sure veto by Governor Bullock. The latest: a voter suppression measure and a measure to block third-party candidates from the ballot. The GOP also deceptively manipulates the wording of their ideas on the ballot in a manner designed to cause confusion and obscure what’s really at stake.
Essmann ignored motions from Democrats on the Senate floor so that he could force voter suppression measures on to the Montana ballot. He later claimed no motions were made, in spite of the all day fracas that broke out in the Senate chambers last Friday. He even claimed he had broken no rules and that the Dems have no remedy in court. Finally, he issued subpoenas to democratic legislators demanding that they appear in his presence for questioning today.
Here is a compendium of the internet’s most recent delights.
This is a video you have to see to believe. Here’s Rep. Dave Hagrstrom (R-Billings) explains his theory of sex on the house floor of the Montana Legislature during an official session of that body. (Hint: It involves a ballpoint pen.)
Hagstrom was urging lawmakers to oppose a measure that would finally remove from state law language that makes being gay an imprisonable felony.
What’s even more shocking is that nearly 1/3 of the Montana legislature voted to keep prison time for gay people on the books. Thirty-six Montana legislators in the House and ten in the Senate, all Republicans, voted to do so. Below is a list of those lawmakers. The bill is SB 107.
(Note: Viewers report this KXLH video format (flash) isn’t viewable on iphone - if you can’t see it, you’ll want to get to another computer. KXLH is looking into the problem. If they do perhaps they can turn off the autoplay for their videos at the same time. I changed the video’s setting here but most people won’t. Autoplay limits vids going viral because no one wants to post them as it repels viewers. When you open a website and a video or music starts playing automatically, most people will immediately click out.)
Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court began its consideration of the arguments about the constitutionality of same-sex marriage. Here in Montana, Health and Human Services Committee Chair David Howard, perhaps the last person that should be permitted to make laws about health or humans, penned a bizarre and hate-filled argument of his own.
Howard has scoured the internet for world’s least credible anti-gay propaganda sites and is now spamming them out across the state via email. Howard must spend a lot of time on such sites–his Facebook page is dedicated almost entirely to anti-gay postings (and occasional donkey porn apparently.)
With the email pasted below the fold, Howard wanted to share his views that although “homosexuals” are “deviant” drug addicts with psychiatric problems and bulimia, they can be “cured.”
Rep. Howard is also on the record saying he believes a Civil War is imminent. He also believes that “the godless liberals are forcing America’s kids to be sitting ducks” for mass muderers, and that medical marijuana leads to death.
Dark money and its corrupting influence is the biggest problem in American politics today, but according to one TEA Party legislator, the real problem is blogging.
Rep. Wendy Warburton (R-Havre) held forth in a committee hearing Friday with concerns about Governor Bullock’s bill to clean up political contributions. She was concerned that the problem wasn’t massive amounts of unregulated, unreported money buying Montana politicians–but rather, the blogs. Said Warburton:
”they’re exerting great, great power and in fact the internet is becoming much more of a forum than paper. You know what I mean as far as what we’re really talking about in terms of political power and things here.
I’ll bring up specific examples. The Montana Cowgirl online anonymous blog exerts influence. I’ve had my local newspaper call me in response to things they’ve said.”
Here’s the video:
Warburton is talking about the call she got from the Havre Daily News after this blog mentioned that her name appeared in a brilliant piece of national investigative journalism. PBS show Frontline‘s piece aired nationwide and revealed the seedy underbelly of secret money in MT elections.
In a full-hour exposé of Montana politics and a secretive right-wing group known as American Tradition Partnership, or ATP, Frontline revealed that a secret stash of incriminating documents has been found in a meth house, showing extensive communications between Warburton and other Republican legislative candidates and the ATP, and showing that the ATP was even preparing campaign material for them.
The short story is that the 2010 election, in which the Tea Party swept into control of the Montana legislature, may have featured massive illegalities. Under state law, third party groups, the ones like American Tradition Partnership which spend masses of unregulated, unreported money, are legally barred from coordinating with candidates. But several legislative candidates and the ATP have been caught red handed, working together, in violation of the law.
The Havre Daily Newsreported that Warburton appears to have been in direct communication with the group, even going so far as to send them a “signature stamp,” presumably so they could send out mailings on her behalf, using her signature. That’s likely to be found illegal under Montana law.
So basically what we have here is Warburton having a fit because a reporter called her when her name popped up in a national dark money exposé. That she is trying to seek retaliation against a blog because of this is hilarious.
She doesn’t realize that the fault here is hers–and that her actions are exactly the type of things members of her own party are working with Governor Bullock to try to prevent. I shudder to think what Warburton will do when she finds out that the dark money expose she’s angry about was not just discussed on the blogs, but also on Facebook and Twitter, around dinner tables, at coffee shops, and around water coolers across the state.
The bill is SB 375 sponsored by GOP Sen. Jim Peterson.
After taking the legislature to the brink of a constitutional crisis, Senate leader Jeff Essmann today conducted debate on the floor of the senate, to try to figure out how to resolve the stalemate that has gripped the chamber after Friday’s raucous session.
After a few hours, Essmann, the consummate statesman, arrived at a very basic solution–donuts:
[Note: After you've seen the summary of Essmann's response, can watch his full response here WARNING-Legislative website clips are set by their system to autoplay.]
PANDEMONIUM IN MONTANA SENATE; Constitutional Crisis could arise
There was chaos in the Montana Senate today, with shouting, jumping, chanting and jeering. Some observers said it seemed for a while like a riot might break out.
The fun started when democrats made a motion for what is called a “Call of the Senate,” which is a demand that all 50 senators be present if any further senate business is to be conducted. At the time, Shannon Augare, a democrat, was far away on an Indian reservation.
To enforce a call of the senate, the rules allow the Senate Sergeant at Arms or other law enforcement to arrest any absent legislators and haul them back to the chamber. But an Indian reservation is a sovereign nation and state law enforcement has no jurisdiction, so Augare was seemingly beyond the long arm of senate enforcement powers.
By legal right, therefore, Democrats could make a Call of the Senate and, with fewer than 50 senators present, could suspend senate business until he returned.
Is it a good thing that a “call of the senate” rule exists? It’s of the same class of parliamentary maneuvers as a filibuster in the US Senate.
But it’s the law. And that’s a real problem because republican senate president Jeff Essmann ignored the democrats’ Call of the Senate motion when they made it. He acted as if he didn’t hear it, and continued on with Senate business even though he had no right to do so. Democrats protested, and refused to vote on a series of measures that Essmann brought to a vote and then announced as having passed even though half the senate (the democrats) didn’t even vote. Things got raucous. Democrats started shouting down Essmann, banging on their desks, chanting, even standing on the desks at one point, demanding to be heard and demanding that Essmann obey the rules of order that any parliamentary leader must honor.
UPDATE:5:10 pm In case you missed it, here’s a video posted by Rep. Bryce Bennett. Here’s a link to Lee Newspapers video and ongoing coverage as well.
Why did the Democrats make this motion to require the attendance of all 50 Senators or else cease business?
Today was the deadline for ballot measures to be approved by the senate, a big date for republicans. Governor Bullock has been vetoing their nutty bills, and so they are now going to try to bypass the governor altogether and place these proposed laws directly on the ballot.
They do this all the time, with things like proposed bans on abortion or gay marriage, or changes to electoral law that will give the GOP an advantage at the polls such as closing down voting locations in the week before election day. Standard GOP crap has been effectively barred from becoming law via the traditional route, because we have a Democratic governor and because the GOP does not have enough votes to override his vetoes. Thus the GOP takes its crazy proposals directly to voters and dresses them up in seemingly neutral language, hoping to deceive them into voting for bad ideas.
And today was the deadline for the legislature to get these measures voted up so that they can be put on the ballot. So with one Senator far away in the sticks, Democrats made a smart move to run the clock out. They had every right to do so and Essmann, the senate president, had no legal right to continue business. But he did anyway, and the senate voted up a bunch of referenda with only 27 total votes, the Democrats abstaining.
UPDATE: 5:38 pmThe bills that the dems are seeking to keep off the ballot are SB 405, which repeals the right to register to vote on election day, and SB 408, the GOP’s move to keep third party candidates off the ballot. For a good summary of this issue head over to http://mtjungleprimary.com/
So the big question now is, do we have a constitutional crisis? Could Essmann be arrested for what he did? And what will be the legal status of the items that the Senate voted for today? This is not likely to be decided by the legislature, but by a court of law. If the democrats prevail in court they’ll have succeeded in keeping these referenda off the ballot. For now, its a win.
Stay tuned. This post will be periodically updated.
UPDATE: 8:13 pm Chuck Johnson and Mike Dennison have the best print story out right now on how this all works. Read it in the Missoulian.They report that:
[A legislative staff attorney] told them a Senate majority could change the rules to sidestep the Democrats’ ploy, but that the House needed to change its rules as well, and that takes a two-thirds majority – and Republicans hold only a 61-39 majority in the House, six votes short.
UDATE: 8:32 pm The Senate will reconvene tomorrow at 7:00am Mountain. You can watch online here.
UPDATE: Sat 10:40 am. Sen. Sesso said on the Senate floor today that the bills Essmann is claiming to have “passed” 3rd reading yesterday actually did not pass. This means they would have missed the transmittal deadline and so are dead. The theory goes that because the law says that during a call of the senate ”no motion is in order except a motion to adjourn or remove the call. The call may be removed by a two-thirds vote of the members present.” Based on this theory, the law did not appear to permit Essmann to send votes to the House, as he has done. Meaning those actions could be invalidated.
A rules committee will meet Monday. The rules committee is chaired by Art Wittich (R-Gallatin County) Priest, Sales, and Essmann are also all on it. Here’s the full list of committee members (page 2).
UPDATE: Sun 12:16 am If you’d like to watch the video of Sen. Sesso’s explanation of why Essmann’s actions were wrong, and Essmann’s response,
Click here. WARNING: Video will autoplay when you click this link.
I had to bury the clip in an old page on the site to get around the autoplay probem. The whole thing lasts about 8 minutes. Video (Note to whomever runs the legislative website – setting all your video clips to autoplay is horrific. No one will clip and use your videos if you keep these settings how they are now. Perhaps that’s what you were going for.)