Category Archives: Montana GOP

House Republicans Off to a Bad Start with Illegal Secret Meeting

Republican state representatives got busted yesterday for holding an illegal, secret meeting.  John Adams of the Tribune broke the story after he and Shane Castle of the Helena Vigilante were tipped off about it.  It happened in the basement of a Helena hotel.  State law requires that all such meetings to be conducted openly, and that the public receive advance notice.  These rules form the most important set of laws in Montana,  the public access or “right to know” laws, enshrined in the Constitution and the Montana Code, requiring that Government be conducted in the open.

At this meeting, a questionnaire [pdf] was handed out to all of attendees, asking those in attendance to state their position on some hot-button issues such as whether they agree with the TEA Party proposal to annex federal lands away from the U.S. Government.

Republicans furiously to tried to claim to the reporters who crashed the meeting that it was not technically a caucus meeting.  But the questionnaire was labeled:

Screen Shot 2014-11-15 at 5.08.18 AM

…and thus it was illegal.

Keith Regier, the newly elected house majority leader, distributed this  questionnaire to fellow house members and ran the meeting.  It ended not long after the reporters showed up.

Not a good start for House Republicans, with the legislative session still a month and a half away.  And the last thing on earth that the GOP wants is for every member to have to put in writing whether they support or oppose various TEA Party schemes.

Perhaps the questionnaires were to be used as a kind of conservative purity test.  Such loyalty oathsalliance tests, and party purges have often surfaced among Montana Republicans, who are somewhat obsessed with such things.

Or, given that the survey asked about what they call the “TPL” proposal (transfer of public lands) perhaps Republicans want to determine if they have the votes to do pull it off.  Previously, GOP moderates tried to distance themselves from this stupid and childish idea, especially after the idea got a nearly unanimous endorsement at the recent GOP platform convention.  Moderates backpedalled when it was revealed the transfer would increase our taxes by hundreds of millions, and inflict a major blow to Montana’s tourism economy.

Other questions on the survey included how much money they would like to leave unallocated at the end of the session and what “the priority should be” with regard to the ending fund balance. Each legislator was also asked to try to identify his (or her, but they are mostly men) top priority bill, and what their “thoughts were” about some of Governor Bullock’s priorities which Regier listed, such as the CSKT water compact, Medicaid expansion, campaign dark money,  and preschool.

And here’s an interesting question: are the completed questionnaires (presumably some have already been collected by Regier and stashed by him somewhere) public documents, by law,  which the press and citizens have a right to view?  I sure hope so :)

MT Republican Puts Weird and Ridiculous GOP Views of Women on Display. Again.

gallagherIn a public and recorded meeting of the Montana Public Service Commission this week, the right-wing GOP Chair of the all GOP commission reverted in his discussion to a distant time, perhaps a time when he would have been more at home.

Floundering for an analogy for an electric power project that may have carried with it some downsides, Republican Bill Gallagher asked the bewildered witness:

“You remember back when we used to buy our wives from their fathers.  If the bride had blemishes, we’d pay less…”

To be sure, in today’s TEA Party strangled version of the Republican party, Gallagher’s views make him more a stalwart than an outlier. Gallagher is many things. Capable of functioning in the modern world is not one of them.

Gallagher brought up the analogy repeatedly throughout the PSC hearing. You can hear the remarks for yourself if you go to the PSC’s website. [WARNING:  You need Windows Media Player to hear this file because the PSC's website isn't so functional in the modern world either.]

1. Click on this link for audio of the September 30, 2014 PSC hearing: D2013.10.77 NWE Hearing Part 1

2. Fast forward to 2.1.50

3. Warn anyone sitting next to you that your head is about to explode. (Safety first.)


Montana GOP Reveals Health Care Reform Alternative, and It is a Doozy

Montana Republicans are touring the state to say that they’ve finally found the alterative to the Affordable Care Act they’ve been searching for:  legalizing religious insurance ponzi schemes.

Republicans are hosting seminars on the scheme across the state, the latest was in the Flathead, as you can see from this flyer. Former state insurance commissioner John Morrison took legal action and shut down such schemes as fraud in 2007, but now  Republicans are hoping to resurrect the effort to legalize the insurance ponzi schemes as an alternative to allowing Montanans to buy insurance through the exchange or to expanding Medicaid to the working poor.

Here’s how this works: To join the ponzi scheme you must must pledge your devout Christian faith (and even get a reference from a minister).  You must not to drink, take drugs or have sex outside of a “traditional” marriage.  Pre-existing conditions make you ineligible to participate at all, although one does get the benefit of a “prayer chain.”

The coverage doesn’t include products of “un-Biblical lifestyles,” such as contraception or substance rehabilitation–or preventive care like PAP tests, colonoscopies and mammograms.

Usually, bill-sharing plan members contribute a predetermined amount each month. When they have a medical bill, they receive monetary help from fellow members. All of the programs are careful to bury in the fine print that they not promising to pay bills, only “facilitating a voluntary sharing.” Some of these schemes even publish your medical problems in a newsletter to “share” your bill with the community in case anyone wants to chip in–so much for medical privacy.

The MT case in which insurance commissioner John Morrison shut down the scam was initiated after a Montana pastor submitted his bills for treatment of a heart condition and a company called Medi-Share refused to pay for them. The pastor had signed a contract with a scheme called Medi-Share for coverage of his medical expenses, but the company continued to maintain that they had no duty to pay claims.

The last couple of sessions saw a couple of bills to legalize religious the ponzi schemes including SB 181, which were vetoed by both Schweitzer and Bullock.

Meanwhile Art Wittch has tried to plagiarize  Scott Walker’s failed planfrom Wisconsin, which has already failed in that state, been widely panned by the states own legislative counsel and the states largest papers.  They say Walker cost state taxpayers hundreds of millions more than if they had gone with the actual medicaid expansion and that besides costing state taxpayers hundreds of millions more the Walker plan “left the state worse off.”

To be sure, these are positive developments in that Republicans have realized that they have lost the battle of whether reform and coverage should go forward, the battle is now over what kind of coverage and reform that should be.  So this is, for now, a victory for the people of Montana, even though these ludicrous ideas for costly failed boondoggles and insurance ponzi schemes from other states must not go forward.


GUEST POST: It Gets Worse

From the Bylaws of the Republican State Central Committee

The state Republican Party of Montana supports a closed primary voting system in Montana.  This is because the Party asserts that the State of Montana’s use of an open primary system to determine the Party’s nominees for the general election violates the Party’s first Amendment rights to associate as the present voting system allows substantial numbers of voters associate with other political parties to cross over to, to participate in, and impact the outcome of the selection of this Party’s nominees.  Montana law does not presently require a Montana voter to declare a party affiliation to register or vote in primary or general elections.  In the event that Montana law is changed to allow for closed primary elections to be held in the State, the following closed Republican Party Primary Rule will immediately to into effect and be controlling: “Only persons who have registered as a Republican prior to the Primary Election will be allowed to vote on a Montana Republican party ballot in that Primary Election.”  

(This verbatim quote is found on page 7 of Case 6:14-cv-00058-CCL to be heard by Federal District Judge Lovell

A Verified Complaint for Injunctive Relief and Declaratory Relief. 

Carole Mackin is the Website Administrator for the People’s Power League in Helena



GUEST POST: So Republicans Want to Be Exclusive

If the Montana Republicans win their Federal lawsuit to close Montana’s Open Primary, they will gain the freedom of association and the right to exclude the rest of us. Consider just what that will mean for Montana.

First, Montanans will lose the Primary Election structure that presently assures a secret ballot for every voter. In order to guarantee that the Republican’s have the freedom of association, every voter at the primary will have to declare a party affiliation. What’s worse, Independent voters will be barred from voting.

Second, we will lose the Open Primary that Montanans enacted by Initiative in 1912. This initiative was designed to end the stranglehold that the Copper Kings held over Montana elections. Because of their foresight, Montana has enjoyed over 100 years of fair and honest elections.

Third, voters will lose the right to privacy, guaranteed by the Montana Constitution. Frankly, the political party that we choose to support is no one’s business but our own.

Every voter should think about this. The Republicans want to trash our cherished civil rights in Federal Court where the lawyers for both sides will be Republicans. There will be no public debate, no vote of the Legislature. And why? Just so the GOP can control its membership.

Carole Mackin is the Website Administrator for the People’s Power League in Helena

The Montana GOP Hypocrite of the Week Award Goes to

MonfortonTinFoil…TEA Party legislative candidate Matthew Monforton. Monforton has filed yet another lawsuit to get his name in the paper close down MT primaries, claiming that there is a need to keep democrats from infiltrating them. Monforton has no proof that this happened, because ballots are secret. However it has been proven already by several major papers that this year a bunch of  local Tea Partiers filed paperwork to run as Democrats for local legislative races. Monforton was silent on this dirty, below-the-belt, highly dishonest stuff, and so he is certainly this week’s leading hypocrite.  Congratulations are not in order.

If you weren’t sick of the entire Monforton Melodrama already, you will be today. This individual has filed perhaps his 9th or 10th lawsuit of the election season (and really it is too tiresome to count them). It’s all getting rather ridiculous.

Monforton refuses to acknowledge two simple facts. First, that the voters of Montana rejected the wingnut faction of the GOP this primary season. This is Monforton’s own faction so that concept must undoubtedly be a difficult one for him. Second,  that if the Republican party in Montana had really wanted this, they would have put it in place a long time ago. Even yesterday, the GOP executive director Bowen Greenwood stopped short of calling the lawsuit a good idea.  Instead, he said that his “personal” opinion, and not that of the GOP, it is certainly a “strong” idea–”…but I’m not inclined to spend valuable time and resources” on it.  Ouch.

Greenwood was not smart to say even that much. Closing primaries in MT would harm Montana Republicans, not help them. A large number of independent and third party conservatives would, rather than registering as a member of any political party, simply be disinclined to participate.

But this is about Monforton’s hypocrisy, not the problems with his proposals.  By refusing to address the eight fake candidates–the TEA Partiers who filed as Democrats in a nasty plot to invade and infect the Democratic Party, Trojan Horse style–Monforton shows that his strategy is one of press release by lawsuit rather than improving elections. Especially because Monforton even recruited one of the fake “democrats” to be the plaintiff in one of his frivolous lawsuits–his lawsuit to block a Medicaid expansion ballot initiative. 

He is a hypocrite, and at this point, a most tiresome one. 

NEW REPORT: 100 Plus GOPers on Record Opposing Citizens United, Including Many Montanans

As the U.S. Senate gets ready to vote today on a proposed constitutional amendment to overturn the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling and allow for overall campaign spending limits, a new report shows it isn’t just democrats who oppose Citizens United.  There is increasing Republican support across the country for such an amendment–including support from several Montana Republicans.

The new report was released by Free Speech For People, a national campaign at the forefront of the amendment movement.  The group has also joined with Montanans in the court battle to keep Montana’s campaign finance limits in place. The organization and its allies joined the defense of Montana’s campaign finance limits with an amicus brief and and amici brief in Lair v. Motl. 

The report issued today highlights more than 100 Republican elected officials joined Dems across the country by going on record calling on Congress to pass an amendment bill and send it to the states for ratification.

The list of the Montana Repubs–including some state legislators–can be seen in the report, entitled “Across the Aisle,” which is available online here. [pdf]  The Montanans are listed on pages 7, 10, 12, and 13.

Also listed are Republicans from other states who filed Amicus briefs with Gov. Bullock in his U.S. Supreme Court fight to keep corruption out of Montana elections (page 18.)

The release of the report is timed to correspond with today’s (Sept 8) Senate vote on the Democracy For All Amendment (S.J. Res. 19), which would allow for overall campaign spending limits and would end the big money dominance of our elections. Fifty US Senators are already on record in support of the amendment.

ANALYSIS: What Lee Newspapers Missed in Zinke’s Military Records

by Cowgirl

Like many of you I’ve been wondering why GOP congressional candidate Ryan Zinke would release only some of his military service record information and not other parts.

Zinke chose to give some of his reconds to Lee Newspapers, who he may have presumed would have no idea how to read them and probably think all the redacted stuff is “super secret squirrel” stuff and so ask no further questions.  It is not.  It also leaves one to wonder whether Zinke’s actual military records jive with the story he’s put out in the media or whether they do not.

If someone from Lee had known how to read these documents, and thought to compare Zinke’s released records to other such documents from other military personnel, they might have noted a few interesting things.  Thankfully, a Cowgirl tipster, a former intelligence analyst with the Army who worked with the type of folks Zinke claims to be, has pointed some interesting items out for us here.

Of special interest among the Missoulian-posted Zinke docs is the form DD-214. (That’s what is known as Zinke’s military separation document.)  And the first thing we must note on the on the DD-214 is that Zinke was a shore officer for four years:

Ask anyone in the Navy and they will tell you shore duty is where they send the idiots to keep them away from the people who actually do what needs to be done. Not to mention tours in Kosovo (long after the real action ended in the Balkans) and CJSOTF-AP [Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force-Arabian Peninsula (CJSOTF-AP) is a “white,” or unclassified, special operations task force that is always organized around the headquarters of 5th Special Forces Group or 10th Special Forces Group], who did nothing. Also, every officer gets a bronze star as part and parcel of their deployment so they can get ahead. “Highly decorated” is ridiculous. Though surviving BUDS [Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL Training] does get him some points in my book.

Back to the form which Zinke has released, the DD-214: First, there is apparently nothing in it, other than has social security number, that he needed to redact. I’m told that this is the document that goes to a service member’s future employers, so it does not contain state secrets.

He redacted some ending statement in the remarks section, which apparently is noteworthy because that is probably where the military would have included some comment or code about his end of service.

But it seems that what reporters have really failed to notice and ask about is why Zinke has redacted information from his “separation authority” section.  This section would have included a code which would tell us why he is leaving the military. You don’t hide that code unless you are trying to hide the reason why you got out.

For example, in the Army the code “AR 635-200, Chapter 4,” means simply “completion of service, no big deal.” Zinke, my source explains:

had an honorable discharge, which is good, but that does not eliminate him having some code to a Navy regulation about some malfeasance causing him to leave. He retired after 22 years, but by then I think you needed at least 25 years to have the full retirement benies. Also he retired after 22 years as an O-5. Not unheard of, but with his background and evals he should have been an O-6 (captain) unless someone in the Navy chain knew what a douchebag he was. Or if he refused it, which is also possible and would gather him some points in my book again. I doubt it though, if he is running for Congress he would have played the officer games.

Regardless, it certainly appears that by hiding his “separation authority code,” it means that there is some other chapter than simple “completion of service” that Zinke went out of the military under–something which Zinke does not want us to see.

Lee Newspapers should have asked about it.  Perhaps they will now. It’s also interesting (and somewhat telling) that Zinke didn’t think some military-savvy reader would be able to figure out what’s been hidden from the public in these partial records.

So now, we shall see if Lee Newspapers will simply ask Zinke what his separation authority code was and why he redacted it.  They also need to ask whether Zinke has actually set foot in Iraq, as John Walsh has done, or not.  After all, they were certainly eager to write about Walsh’s omission of quotation marks from a college paper.

Twelve MT Lawmakers Call for Rounding Up and Arresting Federal Officials

by Cowgirl

Twelve Montana lawmakers are backing a bill to arrest any federal officials who try to implement the Affordable Care Act in Montana. The state legislators voiced their support for such a scheme in a survey from Ron Paul’s “Campaign for Liberty” TEA Party, on which they indicated they will either vote for or sponsor such a bill.

And what a group of legislators they are. Gordon Vance, Nancy Ballance, Cary Smith, David Howard, Kerry White, Sarah Lazloffy, Nicholas Schwaderer, Daniel Zolnikov,  Jerry O’Neil, Art Wittich and Mike Miller are all on record backing legislation to declare the Affordable Care Act illegal and to allow police to arrest federal officials who take steps to implement it in Montana.

These TEA partiers also say they support a nonsensical and unconstitutional dogma called “nullification” that holds that states can ignore the federal health care law–and other federal laws–if they choose. Two sitting lawmakers, Rep. Jerry O’Neil (RTEA-Columbia Falls) and Rep. David Howard (RTEA-Park City), both known imbeciles, were foolish enough to admit they would actually sponsor such legislation.

David Howard

Rep. David Howard has called for a new, modern-day Civil War and dedicated his entire Facebook page to racist, bigoted, bizarre and anti-gay posts. Republicans elected him Chair of the House Human Services Committee of the Montana Legislature.  He is running this year for a four-year term in the Montana state senate.

As Time Magazine reported in 2011 after TEA Party poster boy and perennial candidate Derek Skees began pushing the concept of nullification in the 2011 Bat Crap Crazy Montana legislature,

[N]ullification also has a controversial history. It was invoked by South Carolina lawmakers seething over tariff laws in the antebellum South, and again during the civil-rights era, when states opposed to the landmark Brown v. Board of Education decision of 1954 used the idea of interposition, nullification’s kissing cousin, as a mechanism to resist integration.

Out of over 200 candidates and legislators running for office this year, 34 loons answered the Campaign for Liberty questionnaire, as you can see here. Besides the twelve sitting legislators who back the arrest and nullification bill, an additional 18 candidates for the Montana state house committed to support it. Meanwhile six candidates went on record saying they will sponsor the legislation. Only four legislative candidates refused to answer or admitted they oppose the manhunts for federal health care officials.

Rep. Kerry White (RTEA-Bozeman) says he had hoped to join Cliven Bundy in his armed stand-of public employees in Nevada.

Rep. Kerry White (RTEA-Bozeman) says he had hoped to join Cliven Bundy in his armed stand-off against public employees in Nevada.

Every single one of these legislators and candidates should now be asked for specific explanations of why they support arresting anyone for implementing federal laws.

After all, the list of those up for arrest would be rather large.  All of the state’s navigators and certified application counselors are actually federal officials who have been given grants paid with federal dollars to sign people up for the Affordable Care Act. The biggest chunk of these officials are community health center, tribal clinic, and hospital employees. Additionally there are hundreds of insurance agents who were were certified to offer Affordable Care Act policies through the exchange using official federal funds and resources, and there are hundreds more state public employees whose work to implement the federal health care law is paid for with federal funds and required under federal statute.

Jerry O'Neil

Rep. Jerry O’Neil, RTEA- Columbia Falls says public beatings will save taxpayer money.

As of this posting, the legislators have not said whether the penalty for these hospital and health care workers would be jail time and fines or “humane whippings,” as Rep. Jerry O’Neil as previously proposed.