Category Archives: TEA Party

Zinke Votes to Derail Amtrak

zinkeslinkyMontana Congressman Ryan Zinke has voted for a measure to gut passenger rail in the United States and kill the Empire Builder, which stretches across Montana’s rural hi-line.  It is worth noting that Zinke was the only Republican Representative along the Empire Builder’s route to vote for killing the transportation system.  Even North Dakota’s Republican Representative saw the stupidity of Amendment No. 6 sponsored by Representative McCormick of California, that would have “Eliminated all Federal assistance for Amtrak” and voted it down. It failed 147-272.

Zinke was one of only a minority of radical TEA Partiers to vote for the Amendment. He apparently has stopped even trying to pretend and just votes how the the TEA Party groups like the DC-based Club for Growth and FreedomWorks tell him to vote, not based on what’s good for Montana.

When Zinke realized how upset Montanans were with his vote, he then claimed that he was not trying to kill this part of Montana’s economy.  Backpedalling furiously, he said he was merely firing a “warning shot” at it and is now laughably telling the press he supports the industry.  No sane individual would consider voting against something a form of “support.”


TEA Party Lawmaker Says Animal Shelter Workers are Terrorist Threat

A Montana TEA Party legislator yesterday said during a speech on the floor of the House of Theresa ManzellaRepresentatives yesterday that animal shelter workers were a terrorist threat.

TEA Party Rep. Theresa Manzella (R-Ravalli) is sponsoring a bill would eliminate the ability of law enforcement to use animal shelter staff to assist in the rescue and sheltering of animals in cases of alleged animal cruelty and abuse.  (HB 179) Apparently she believes one reason the bill is needed is that animal shelter workers are likely terrorists.

“During the past several years special interest extremism as characterized Animal Liberation Front and the Earth Liberation Front has emerged as a serious terrorist threat.

The FBI estimates that these organizations have committed at least 600 criminal acts in the United states since 1996.  resulting in damages in excess of $42 million.  Today, those people who have been convicted of their crimes, of the damages in estimation of
$42 million, they work for the Humane Society of the United States.

One in particular, his goal is the total abolition of animal agriculture. I ‘d like you to keep that in mind.”

You can hear her speech, delivered on the floor of the Montana House of Representatives on February 16, 2015, on Youtube here:

This ludicrous conspiracy mongering is a disservice to Montanans.  It is beneath us, and does not belong in Montana’s lawmaking process.

Meanwhile Republicans in the Montana state senators managed to vote down a good bill by Sen. Tom Facey (D-Missoula) last week that would have required animal abusers to pay a bond for the animals’ care  after they have been removed by law enforcement.  They managed to kill the common sense measure without calling anyone terrorists.   That bill was SB 115.


Ohio GOP Governor Blasts MT TEA Partiers’ Ridiculous Stance on Medicaid Expansion

John Adams of the Great Falls Tribune has once again obtained some very interesting video from a closed-door Republican meeting.

In the video,  TEA Party Republican Scott Sales appears to have attempted some chest thumping in front of the press after Adams discovered the meeting.  He launched into an attack on the visiting Republican governor, who was the leading proponent of expanding medicaid in Ohio, only to get immediately and somewhat embarrassingly schooled.

You can click here to watch the raw video John Adams recorded from the meeting Montana GOP legislators had with GOP Governor John Kasich yesterday. 

Sales launches his attack with:

You recently approved Medicaid expansion – if you have this extra money at the state level why not use state dollars instead of federal dollars?  By your own admission you are reenforcing this idea that you want someone else to do the heavy lift. You could have said no to federal dollars. You as the governor–and we as the legislature–we can say no to all the federal dollars.  And quite frankly under section [unintelligible] of the constitution, you know as well as I do that the federal government is way out of bounds in a lot of areas where it has no authority. I’d be singing your praises and probably support you for president if you had cut the apron strings and said no to federal dollars  – especially since you had a surplus and not enabling this thing to go on and on and frankly, I find you to be somewhat hypocritical.

Sales apparently was referring to the TEA Party GOP-ers scheme they say they are concocting, which, I kid you not, would turn away the money available to pay for Medicaid expansion in Montana, and ask Montanans to spend more state money to cover a small fraction of those actually eligible for Medicaid expansion.

Kasich, apparently realizing straight off that he was dealing with .22 caliber minds in a .357 magnum world, quickly shot down this TEA Partier:

There’s no money in Washington, it’s my money. I brought my money back to Ohio. And what did we do with it? We treat the mentally ill.  We treat the drug addicted.  And we help the working poor stop going to emergency rooms and forcing me to pay for their medical bills because they go there sicker.

Now, I don’t know if you’ve ever read Matthew 25, but I’d commend it to you- the end of it. It’s about do you feed the homeless and do you clothe the poor. I’m a believer that it is in the conservative tradition to make sure we help people get on their feet so they then are not dependent…

Now do I think that it is appropriate for the federal government to in some ways  be a partner and provide some resources to and help solve problems in the states?  I do.

Kasich continued by pointing out that:

Ronald Reagan expanded medicaid.  I don’t know if you know that or no,t but he expanded medicaid and he’s the patron saint of all the conservatives I know.

Kasich did not add the other GOP president who expanded Medicaid, George Bush senior, so I’ll do it here.   Bush’s Medicaid expansion initiative, which he called the Health Insurance Flexibility and Accountability (HIFA) initiative or HIFA Waiver program, was created in 2001 to allow states to cover able-bodied adults.  It’s something that the majority of states now do, but Montana is far behind in this area.

Kasich then asked Rep. Sales “how fast has your Medicaid program grown in Montana?”

Sales tried to shrug off the question and said “I don’t know.”

But Kasich again pushed back, “No you’re asking me so I’m asking you – how fast has it grown in Montana.”

Sales started to make excuses for his cluelessness like “Oh, well I’m not on appropriations”

“So you don’t know…” Kasich shot back.

When I came into office state share medicaid grew at 9% my first budget it grew at 3% and we didn’t cut anybody off and we didn’t reduce any benefits. Now what we’ve been able to do is keep the promises we made to the mentally ill.

Kasich is highlighting the mentally ill because one of the best ways to help address the problem Montanans face with untreated mental illness is Medicaid expansion. In fact, in Montana, 42% of uninsured adults with mental health conditions would be eligible for coverage when Bullock’s Healthy Montana Plan, which uses a private contract to provide health coverage for working poor Montanans, passes.

Kasich continued by pointing out that:

Turning down your money back to Montana on an ideological basis–when people can lose their lives becauses they get no help–that makes no sense to me. So I read in the Wall Street Journal on Saturday about the doctor in MT who is treating all these people after a guy froze to death. I read that and I thought – we gotta help those people…

I’ve been in all these places – and if I thought expanding medicaid would keep us from being able to have a balanced budget or from having fiscal responsibility or was going to create dependence, I wouldn’t be for it.  In my state, its working…

Your position is based on strict ideology its not based on the practicalities of what happens in the street.

I can’t tell from the video if TEA Partier Art Wittich, public enemy number one of working poor Montanans, is in the closed-door meeting.  He may have been busy dealing with his upcoming jury trial in the political practices case against him, where he faces removal from office. 


GOP Chair Calls Special Meeting to Deal with Tea Party

An urgent meeting has been called by the Chairman of the Montana Republican Party. The date is January 10th.

The assembled Republicans will vote on whether to join a federal lawsuit filed a few months ago by a group of Tea Party nuts against the State of Montana, arguing that our primary election system is unconstitutional. The original official plaintiffs are from Ravalli County but the ringleader and lawyer for the group is none other than Matthew Monforton, the Tea Party hot-head from Bozeman who wants to wage war against GOP moderates.

Monforton say that Montana’s primary elections, in which any voter is allowed by law to choose either the Republican or Democratic ballot, violates the constitutional “right of association” under which political groups may decide whom to include and exclude. This bunch think our system is too inclusive, for it allows non-purists to vote in the GOP primary.

If these idiots win, then Montanans will be forced to list their party affiliation when they register to vote, or else be forbidden from voting in the primary.   Sounds crazy, right?  It is.  Montana’s open primary has existed for 100 years and was founded on the notion  that the voter deserves as many choices as possible, and that parties should not control politics.

Could a federal judge just junk our setup?  Well, it has happened before.  A similar challenge by right-wing activists was won in Idaho recently and Idaho’s open primary–identical to Montana’s–was stuck down.

At any rate, the most delicious aspect of this controversy (from a blogging perspective, at least) is the special GOP meeting called for January 10 by the GOP chairman Will Deschamp, who is panicking.   At this assembly, those in attendance will vote on whether the Party should join the lawsuit (thus trying to close down the primary) or stay out of it. This is no small thing.  If the state GOP refuses to support the lawsuit, it could harm the suit or even defeat it. If the GOP joins the suit, it could help it succeed.

The problem is this: The Montana GOP already voted on this issue, this summer.

At the annual convention a few months back, the Republicans voted in favor of closing down the primary so that only registered Republicans can vote in it.  The resolution is now enshrined in the Montana Republican party’s formal platform, just like other crazy things which have been or are still there such as buying back the National Parks from the US government or imprisoning LBGT people.  As you know, GOP conventions are heavily attended by lunatics, who set crazy policy positions that often embarrass the GOP.  Usually, however, the party is able to allow the lunatics to have their fun, because there’s never any realistic chance for the fringe policies to be enacted.

But this time it’s different.  The GOP has to act in one way or another. Monforton has called the GOP’s bluff.

The problem, as chairman Will Deschamps clearly understands, is that a huge portion of Montana voters, and indeed a huge portion of GOP members, will be furious if they are forced to become members of a party as a precondition for voting.  These voters, in turn, would blame the GOP.   So Deschamps find himself in the humiliating pickle of being forced to call a meeting, and to stack the meeting with moderate delegates, so that he can try to reverse a plank in the Republican platform that was ratified only several months ago at a convention that followed age-old rules of order.

Monforton, who will be in the state legislature come January, has already taken a shot at Deschamp for calling this meeting.  “It’s nothing more than an attempt by Deschamps to have a do-over in order to stab rank and file members in the back and get his own cronies to reverse the vote,” he told the AP last week.

Monforton’s gang, of course, has a very clear motive in bringing this suit: make the GOP more conservative by eliminating moderate voters from primaries.  This is exactly what would happen if primaries were party-member only affairs.  Imagine if the only voters who could participate in a GOP primary were Tea Partiers.  What do you think such a party would be like? Nominees would be loons like Matt Rosedale, not Ryan Zinke; not Rick Hill, but Klansmen like Drew Turiano.  Rick Santorum, not Romney, would have won the primary in Montana.

It should be great fun to observe this meeting in January.  Surely the press will be invited.


GOP Packs Education Committee with Homeschoolers, Crackpots, and Convicts

Sarah Laszloffy, Debra Lamm

“An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.” – Ben Franklin

As bizarre as this may sound, the Montana Republicans have chosen Sarah Laszloffy (R-Laurel) to be Chair of the House Education Committee. Laszloffy is 23-years-old and a major advocate (and product) of homeschooling and promotes using your tax dollars to subsidize private sectarian religious schools. She is also an alumnus of the Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry, where students of all ages come to learn how to live  “a supernatural lifestyle.” (Who says Republicans are to opposed alternative lifestyles?)

According to the school’s website, Laszloffy and her fellow students learn how to “do the Bible,” —including useful skills such as “how to cast out demons” and other practical solutions to life’s most pressing problems.  [screenshot]

Bethel’s members also purport to have the ability to heal people through prayer and bring the dead back to life, although this failed when one young man at the academy fell from a 200-foot cliff and Bethel students tried for several hours to pray him back to life before calling 911. The victim, who had not actually died yet but was instead unconscious, filed a lawsuit against the students after he ended up a paraplegic.  

Laszloffy quickly removed references to the Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry from her Facebook profile once the Cowgirl blog made the information public two years ago, but you can see a screenshot here.

Laszloffy is the daughter of noted birther Jeff Laszloffy who is a lobbyist for the ultra-religious, ultra-right-wing group which calls itself the Montana Family Foundation.  

And if it’s not bad enough that this young ignoramus has been chosen to occupy the GOP’s top education post in the Montana state legislature, consider who her top deputy will be:  the number two Republican on the Education committee will be Debra Lamm (R-Livingston), who also worked for the Family Foundation and in fact was the group’s top lobbyist until this year.  She will be vice chair of the House Education Committee.  

Lamm’s greatest hits include her publicly held belief that improved math and reading standards are connected to the workings of “the United Nations, UNESCO, the ‘New World Order,’ Marxism, Globalism, Islam, etc.” and the culmination “of an envisioned future of  ’dominant elites’ who have been working behind the scenes for over 100 years to ensure its adoption.” She has also worked closely on education policy with the wealthy Greg Gianforte of Bozeman, who builds museums that attempt to prove that dinosaurs lived 4,000 years ago. 

Overall, however, I’d say the big winner in the Laszloffy and Lamm appointments is Chick-Fil-A.   The Family Foundation was behind the enlightened plan to import stale chicken sandwiches to Montana from Chick-Fil-A locations in other states (there are none in Montana) after it announced that it wanted to keep discrimination against LBGT people legal.

But if you thought the bizarre appointments ended there, you’d be wrong.

To be sure, the Montana GOP is a party which has long held a revered place for ignorance in its official party platform–a document which has gone so far as enshrined positions in support of birtherism and the gold standard and making being gay an imprisonable offense.

Even so, newly appointed house education committee member Rep. Matthew Monforton appears to lack faith that Republican voters can tell the difference between someone who’s truly uninformed and someone who’s just faking it to get elected on the GOP ticket.  He’s calling for closed primaries–which would prevent independents, the unaffiliated and anyone but GOP stalwarts from voting in the GOP primary.  Presumably this will help the electoral chances of the truly backward – so that they too m may be appointed to the committee that makes Montana’s education laws.

Rounding out the house education committee is convicted child abuser Gilbert Bruce Meyers of Havre.

What this means for policy isn’t clear.  In the past, Montana republicans have pushed for bills to restore corporal punishment in the classroom–and to expand the concept to all of society by allowing the option of corporal punishment for those convicted of misdemeanor and felony crimes in Montana.


GOP Candidate Lobbied AGAINST Violence Against Women Act

Today I learned that a TEA Party candidate for legislature in the Billings area named Tonya Shellnut actually lobbied against the Violence Against Women Act and even penned an op-ed against the act that was published in the Daily Inter Lake.

The act was not controversial – it essentially reauthorized the federal laws that have been on the books for two decades that hold rapists and abusers accountable for their crimes and helped women start new lives.  

The main change was that it was expanded to include Indians and other women who were originally left out.  But Shellnut tried to claim that including all women in the new law was a bad thing.  It doesn’t get much worse that that.

And hard data exists to show the law is effective and has actually been a resounding success.  Since the original law was passed 20 years ago, domestic violence has gone down 67% and murders of women by intimate partners have dropped 35%.

Perhaps just as sickening as Shellnut’s actions is that she is backed by a group that calls itself the Montana Family Foundation.

Today marks that 100 year anniversary of the date women secured the right to vote.  Let’s make sure we all do and vote to keep people like this out of the state legislature.

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.


The TEA Party Revolving Door is in Full Swing in Montana

man-leaving-revolving-doorWhen top campaign staff and senior congressional staffers swing in and out of the TEA Party front groups working to influence elections and congressional votes, so do inside information, strategic decisions, money and special access for the TEA Party.

Some call it a form of corruption.  Whatever you call it, the revolving door often leads to TEA Partiers and members of congress working in their own self-interest, rather than that of the people of Montana.

Here are three recent developments you need to be aware of related to the TEA Party’s revolving door in Montana.

First, the Billings Gazette has reported that Zacharay Lahn has switched from his position as Steve Daines’ State director to being the state director for Americans for Prosperity, which is bankrolled by the Koch brothers, as has been often reported.

Lahn, who was also Steve Daines’ campaign manager in 2012, replaces TEA Party state senator Joe Balyeat in the position.  Balyeat was demoted to State Policy Director for Americans for Prosperity.

Meanwhile over at the Montana Policy Institute, which had gone dark after losing some major funding sources, a man named Brent Mead was hired as director to fire the right-wing “think” tank back up again.  Mead swings in from his former position as policy director for the Montana Growth network, as is noted on the also-Koch brother’s funded Americans for Tax Reform’s website.

The Montana Growth Network, as you will recall, is embattled state Sen. Jason Priest’s group which funneled hundreds of thousands of dollars into campaigns to buy a supreme court seat for TEA Partier Laurie McKinnon. The group was also revealed to be behind a barrage attack mailers poured into moderate GOP legislative districts to stop the moderates from supporting the Medicaid expansion. Most recently, some of the group’s board members tried to distance themselves from that organization after it was revealed that 70% of the Montana Growth Networks funds came from only five people.  The Montana Policy Network also has ties to ALEC and is also funded by the Kochs.

The third interesting development is that the former head of American Majority in Montana is now working for the Ryan Zinke campaign.  American Majority in Montana is the state chapter of national TEA party group out of Virginia called American Majority.    As the Bozeman Chronicle reported, American Majority gets 70% of its funding from a Koch brother’s funded group.

Jeremy Carpenter was the group’s leader.  He said publicly that the group’s goal is to build up the TEA Party base by teaching people how to be candidates and put tea partiers in offices up and down the ballot from school board to statewide and federal races–doing field work for the TEA Party. Now he’s working for the Zinke campaign as a field director.

All of these groups will be working to influence elections in Montana, and perhaps most frighteningly legislative campaigns. Whether through get out the vote efforts, thinly disguised “issue ads”–attack mailers that read “tell said democrat that kids and puppies don’t deserve to be murdered” mailed out right before ballots, and by organizing right-wing campus groups to train volunteers for campaigns.


Steve Daines and the Environmental Boogeyman

Steve Daines is an embarrassment.

Steve Daines is an embarrassment. He’s bad for the state.

Steve Daines has a new radio ad on the air, in which Daines portrays himself as the protector of the timber industry, keeping timber mills and loggers safe from “fringe environmentalists” and “extreme environmental groups.”  A narrator also describes Daines as “ranked as one of the most effective congressmen” although she doesn’t cite any study or group that made this dubious determination.

 Listen to this idiotic advertisement, or read the transcript, here.

Daines has simply dusted off a twenty-year-old playbook for these ads:  Environmentalists are shutting down the state and costing us jobs, and we must fight against their lawsuits and the federal regulations that they have persuaded Obama to enact.  Montanans could all be rich from natural resource development if the environmentalists would simply get out of the way.

There’s one problem with the radio ad: In the sixty seconds of narration and sound bites from Daines, timber owners and loggers, nobody cites a single item, a single tangible thing, that environmentalists have recently done to effect the loss of jobs or the decline of the timber industry.  The script is simply Daines and his supporters talking about how he has “stood up” to “environmental radicals.”

Now, if the discussion were about coal or fossil fuels, Daines could at least claim credit for voting against, or opposing publicly, whatever is currently being advocated for in DC by the environmental community, such as EPA regulations, carbon limits, and so and and so forth.  Those are not radical ideas or proposals, but they at least are real.

Daines has instead decided to create a nebulous boogeyman, “the fringe environmentalists,” and claim himself as working hard to vanquish it insofar as it is trying to destroy the timber industry.

There is a reason that Daines can’t point to anything to substantiate his claim, not a single timber sale that has been blocked or federal law that has Obama has signed that have negatively affected the timber business: because there really aren’t any.  The cold fact is that the timber industry–in fact the entire wood products industry–in Montana has been devastated in recent years by one thing, and one thing only: the bursting of the housing bubble.  The market for the product crashed, and has not returned nearly to where it was.

But that doesn’t really matter now, because Daines has discovered, likely through polling and other market research, that if you tell persuadable voters that timber jobs have been lost due to the activities of “fringe environmentalists,” they are ignorant and misinformed enough to believe it.  Which is enough for Daines.  That’s Steve Daines’s brand of leadership.  Enjoy it.

TEA Party Leader Leaves Door to Medicaid Expansion Open

The statements of disgraced Tea Partier Art Wittich [pronounced “WIT-ick!”] reveal a major shift in TEA Party rhetoric about the Medicaid expansion in an article in the Bozeman Chronicle this weekend.

Rather than close the door completely on any kind of Medicaid expansion, as Wittich has done in the past, the former Senate GOP leader told the Bozeman Chronicle that he is “not opposed to negotiating a Medicaid expansion program” but that his version would look different than what has been proposed by Democrats.  By doing so, Wittich is signaling that conservatives have moved on from a single-minded focus on blocking health care for the working poor. This is a major shift and an interesting development in the discussion.  It shows Wittich is willing to publicly admit that conservatives may no longer simply refuse to move forward.

To be sure, in the same article Wittich was again caught lying many times about the Medicaid expansion and how it is paid for, saying he opposes how it is funded.  So he must be called out for these lies once again.  He’s entitled to his own opinion, but not his own version of the facts. 

First, Wittich tries to claim that, “Medicaid was never supposed to be an insurance program. It was meant to provide services to disabled people.”

Fact:  Medicaid provides health coverage to children, seniors, pregnant women, babies, and parents in every state. Able-bodied childless adults have been eligible for Medicaid coverage in other states for decades, thanks to the major Medicaid initiative of the George H.W. Bush administration.

This initiative, called the Health Insurance Flexibility and Accountability (HIFA) initiative or HIFA Waiver program, was created by the Bush administration in 2001 and has been used in many states to provide full basic healthcare coverage to childless non-disabled adults.

The next lie Wittich tells is that “community health centers are funded differently [than Medicaid expansion] eliminating the fear that federal government debt would force states to pay increasingly large shares of the Medicaid program.”

Fact: The federal government has never cut Medicaid support for states.

This is a lie that Wittich has used several times, and it has several times been disproven.  First, the Washington Post has explained that the federal government cutting support for Medicaid would be an “unprecedented” move, as the government has only increased its share of expenditures since the program’s inception and has never reduced them below their original percentage:

There is one time the federal government did fiddle with funding levels, in the late 2000s. That, which you can see in the [below] chart, was to increase their share of Medicaid spending during the recession.


I know that Wittich does not like being fact checked by this blog.  It’s probably why he’s attacked my blog in public speeches.  However Wittich did not dispute the facts of any of my posts, rather he tried to attack me personally by flatly proclaiming that I’m not a woman, that I’m not a Montanan and that I “don’t know anything about cows.”  Why he thinks this is beyond me.

But I do know that politicians who lie put their reputations and careers at risk when their lies are exposed. Perhaps he’s still worried that if he sticks to the facts people aren’t going to be pleased with his and Jason Priest’s actions to block health care for 70,000 working poor Montanans. Perhaps he’s worried about the thousands of Medicaid expansion ballot initiative signers who vote in this district.  Perhaps for these reasons he is now leaving the door open for Medicaid expansion, in some form or another, to move forward.

Both Wittich and Priest were senate leaders during the last session – but neither will be back in the senate.  Wittich will be running for house, while Priest faces felony partner and family member assault charges.