Category Archives: Montana Legislature 2011

Ousted Bozeman TEA Partier Hopes Belgrade Voters Haven’t Heard of Him Yet


Will Belgrade Take Bozeman’s Leavings?  Not Likely

An absurd former TEA Party legislator who was ousted by Bozeman voters last cycle appears to be hoping that Belgrade voters may be unfamiliar with his record and may vote him back into office.

That man is Tom Burnett, who served one term in Bozeman in 2011 and was immediately voted out in the next elect.  The former lawmaker may soon be under investigation for having been caught up in the Meth House Scandal, in which documents found at a meth house in Colorado were found to implicate certain GOP lawmakers for illegally coordinating with a dark money group, the American Tradition Partnership. But that’s just the beginning.

Tom Burnett has accused a youth support for LGBT young people in his community of meeting to recruit people into becoming gay.   He has also written that he wonders whether the high school support group would soon include pedophiles and beastiality:

“Is it only a matter of time before the umbrella covers pedophiles, necrophiles, and zoophiles? When will the high school advertise a group called Beastiality Acceptance Alliance, BAA?”

Burnett took the post down after his ravings appeared in campaign flyers and on a reporter’s blog.

But perhaps what Burnett is most known for is his obsession with preventing poor people from getting enough to eat. For a peek into the serpents’ nest of irrationality that is this guy’s brain, look no further than what he calls his “studies” which consist of lies, unsubstantiated anecdotes, and incoherent wackiness he found on the internet.

Burnett’s latest screed, released in October of 2013, is a follow up to his premier work “Childhood Hunger, the Myth” in which he reveals that pictures of fat kids he found on the internet prove that there is no such thing as childhood hunger.

His bizarre writings prove nothing other than that the snake on a yellow background is the perfect symbol for the TEA Party.

Consider Burnett in light of the recent scandal in Iowa.  That state’s top GOP-appointed public-health official resigned just last week after she was caught making unsubstantiated comments about food stamps.

“The No. 1 food item bought with food stamps in Iowa is Mountain Dew,” the director of the Iowa Department of Public Health claimed, even though states obviously don’t track such purchases.  The woman later claimed through a spokesman she “found it online” but couldn’t remember where.

After this scandal, Montanans are even less likely to put someone like this in charge of making decisions here–someone who makes things up to demonize and perpetuate stereotypes about the poor.

Burnett himself has claimed that Food stamps = Red Bull.  He’s also written that teachers are what is keeping Mexico in poverty.  Yeah.

Burnett has organized TEA Party events  with Tim Ravndal, the Helena TEA Partier who made national news for comments he made that implied support for violence against gays.Burnett also is the author of the famous bill to eliminate law that requires landlords to install carbon monoxide detectors (House Bill 354)  It made the venerated 2011 Montana Nutjob Bills list first published at Cowgirl Blog.



Selling Glacier to “Pay off the national debt”

Republicans have been touring the state to promote a most moronic idea: That states take over all federal land and sell it off to “pay down the national debt.

Ken Ivory is leader of the latest sagebrush rebellion. He’s a state legislator from Utah pushing the idea that states should take over public land and sell it off, 95% of which would “pay off the national debt” and 5% for schools. Ivory is making a stop in Bozeman before he heads to the Montana legislature tomorrow, Wed. Jan. 8.

Actually, he’s been touring around pushing the idea that states should condemn and sell of public land.  This is an ALEC bill, and Ken Ivory, basically Utah’s Derek Skees, has been pushing it at  ALEC conferences.  Montanans rejected the idea, which was among the infamous nutjob bills of the 2011 legislature which were ridiculed across the U.S. and if it couldn’t pass in a session dominated by wacky bills and hard right Republicans.
And it wouldn’t be a GOP event without an assault rifle raffle. At this event two assault rifles will be raffled off to whomever wanders in.

The Big Sky Pachyderms, Gallatin County Republican Central Committee, Bozeman Tea Party, Gallatin County Republican Women are all listed as sponsoring his speech tonight at the Bozeman Holiday Inn. This man is scheduled to appear in front of the EQC Committee of the MT legislature at 1:00pm today.


A Real Gem

Interesting development in Idaho this week. A Republican state Representative was busted for lying about his criminal record and had his concealed weapons permit revoked. But he says he’s the victim – of a sheriff out for revenge after the legislator inquired about the sheriff’s office expenditures.

Idaho state Representative Mark Patterson (R-Boise) did jail time and pleaded guilty to a rape-related charge in Florida when he was 21.  A few years later he was acquitted of rape at trial in another city.

Patterson was charged with forcible rape in May 1974.  As the Idaho Statesman reports:

The victim, then a 46-year-old mother of five, told police that Patterson forced her to have sex twice and threatened to have his Doberman pinscher attack her if she refused, according to police reports.

He pleaded guilty in exchange for a lesser charge (assault with intent to rape).

But now, the Republican is trying to say not only that he didn’t commit the crime but that he didn’t lie about it either.  He claims his memory has been wiped clean of any recollection of this whole affair by a chemotherapy treatment he received to treat a case of Hepatitis C he says he got at the dentist.

Patterson says he’s the victim of a local sheriff who by revoking his permit is really:

staging a political hit against him, trying to “shut me down and silence me and get me the hell out of the way,” because he has scrutinized the way Ada County Sheriff Gary Raney spends his department’s money, according to a detailed report in the Idaho Statesman.

Here’s the kicker – thanks to an Idaho law that automatically grants concealed weapons permits to legislators, legislators were able to make sure their own criminals were above the law.

Montana lawmakers tried to pass a similar law here.  TEA Party Republican Verdell Jackson tried to pass Senate Bill 279 in 2011– a bill to allow legislators to carry guns–both concealed and open–in the state capitol building.

Former GOP Lawmaker Unloads: It’s the Right-Wing Extremism, Stupid

Evangelizing to the far-right rather than actually representing constituents is “eroding the effectiveness of some of our elected state representatives,” says a Republican and former Montana state legislator.

Following yet another embarrassing legislative session,  a panel of lawmakers have been tasked with finding “ways to restore trust, respect, faith and confidence in the legislative branch.”  The panel discussed ways to keep the legislature in Helena more often (the worst nightmare of anyone who is not a sitting legislator.) Continue reading

Look Who’s Back

[This spoof article about former state legislator Tom Burnett's new 2013 "study" called "Deceptions in the Hunger Crusade," in which he purports to prove that no one should help hungry children get something to eat is making the rounds via email. While the quotes appear to be satirical, these are the same arguments Burnett actually makes in his new study. The credo is Burnett's exact wording.]

RepTomBurnettOfficialCowgirlBlogHeadshotFormer state legislator Tom Burnett (R-TEA Bozeman), Montana’s leading crusader for barring hungry kids from receiving food,  reached out to food banks today claiming he has new groundbreaking research to prove there is no such thing as childhood hunger.

Writing from an undisclosed bunker in Gallatin County, Burnett said “I embarked on this crusade with a simple goal: to keep basic low-cost food out of the reach of ordinary Montana children who God chose to punish by bringing them up to parents who don’t make a lot of money. And while a battle was lost when voters booted me from office, that dream—that precious, cherished dream—will live on.” Continue reading

TEA Partiers Convene in Kalispell Next Week to Plan Constitutional Amendments

Tim and Chuck Baldwin are hosting a convention in Kalispell next Sunday in Kalispell to discuss their latest plan to fight the “tyranny” of the federal government.

They’re featuring former Montana conservative activist Rob Natelson who will discuss the Baldwins’ goal of nullifying federal laws.  The Baldwins admittedly do not recognize the supremacy clause of the US Constitution.  They say it is a tool of “socialist and nationalist ideologues” designed to bring “state annihilation.” Continue reading

Pastor Who Called for Death Penalty for Gays Convicted, Could Face 30 Years for Fraud

himesWhen religious-right lobbyist Harris Himes stepped up to the podium in a legislative committee in 2009 and said “I stand before you a potential prison inmate,” it was perhaps the truest statement he ever made.

The anti-woman, anti-gay, anti-minority pastor from Ravalli County was convicted last week of defrauding a member of his congregation out of his life savings and could face up to 30 years in prison.

Himes, who represented himself in court, claimed he was innocent of the charges, calling them a “witch hut” trumped up by “gay and pro-choice activists.” He told the jury pool that “I am a fundamentalist, Bible-thumping conservative Christian,” and that his trial was part of a war on Christianity.

Rev. Himes had claimed at the start of his trial that he would be calling some “15 and 20 witnesses” to support his case including many who would fly in from Mexico to do so. But that apparently didn’t end up panning out. As the Bitterroot Star reported, “Judge Loren Tucker, who has appeared clearly exasperated by Himes at various points in the trial, asked Himes what he proposed to do with the jury’s time with no witnesses to testify.”

Himes also argued his case in the court of public opinion.  In a KGVO talk radio interview during the trial, Himes said he believed that children in public schools were destined to go to hell.  He later went back on the same program to reiterate that what he meant to say was that public schools “jeopardize the salvation of a child.”

He lobbied heavily in the legislature for bills to repeal the ban against discrimination against gays, and also for bills to eliminate Montana’s constitutional right to privacy. During the 2011 legislative session, he even told legislators that he believes gay people should be put to death.

Himes partnered with TEA Party legislators like Bob Wagner and Derek Skees to back outrageous proposals like the birther bill, among others–including Sen. Greg Hinkle.  Himes also worked closely with Rep. Kris Hanson, R-Havre, who sponsored Himes’ bill to prohibit cities across Montana from passing local non-discrimination ordinances. He lobbied heavily against public schools, women’s rights, tribal sovereignty, equality, and domestic violence and bullying protections over the years.

Himes has also led or worked closely with several religious-right lobbying  groups in Montana including leading the Montana Values Alliance, serving as state coordinator for the Montana Eagle Forum, a stint as president of the Montana Family Coalition–all groups that worked closely with the Montana Family Foundation and the Montana Catholic Conference.  He has been a featured speaker at Montana Republican party trainings and events.

Indeed, Himes has had quite a following among Montana’s hard right wing.  Dallas Erickson, another religious right activist in Montana, compared him to Jesus Christ in a recent op-ed.

Harris Himes' novel is called

Harris Himes’ novel is called “Stand”

And many do not know that Himes is actually an author.  His fictional work “Stand” is available on Surprisingly no one has yet written a review of “Stand”, but here is an excerpt of this future blockbuster:

Satan s face was ugly.
SPIRISOULSPIRSOUL!” screamed his Shades.
Satan seeks to destroy all men and women. But the Christian Church stands in his way. Maybe.
Pivotal wars. Abortion. Marriage. Islam. America’s sovereignty.

The page-turner is “aimed at galvanizing the church and her pastors and priests and leaders to regain the moral leadership in the public forum which they once held, dating from before the Revolution—to become God’s Watchmen, warning the people, before it’s too late. ”

Himes reportedly spent two years writing the novel. But if sales remain flat in the near future, he shouldn’t worry too much. He’s could have have up to 30 years of hard time to rewrite it soon.