Tag Archives: Dennis Rehberg

Daines Among Richest Members of Congress

Montana Representative Steve Daines is one of the richest members of Congress, according to a new report.  Daines came in at number 41 with an estimated worth of between $4.6 million and nearly $23 million. 

Prior to Daines, former MT congressman Dennis Rehberg was the 24th-wealthiest member with a net worth ranging from about $6.6 million and nearly $56.2 million, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonpartisan, nonprofit group in Washington, D.C.

On average however, incoming freshman like Daines are wealthier than the incumbents. 

Meanwhile, the most recent numbers available from the U.S. Census show that the median net worth of the typical American household is $66,740.

The Center for Responsive Politics also released the top corporations that members of congress invest in.  They include these among the top ten:

General Electric (former ALEC member)
Procter & Gamble (former ALEC member)
Microsoft Corp  (ALEC member)
Exxon Mobil (ALEC member)
Pfizer Inc (ALEC member)
Verizon Communications  (ALEC member)
Cisco Systems
AT&T Inc (ALEC member)
Intel Corp (former ALEC member)

[Source: Current and former ALEC member corporations]

Stapleton Jumps In

The Most Inspirational Wrestler Corey Negro Caucus Joke" Stapleton is Running for Governor.


by Cowgirl

Corey Stapleton, former state senator from Billings, has thrown his hat into the ring for US Senate, for the right to challenge Max Baucus in the race.  Stapleton turned in a fair effort for Governor in 2012, but ran out of steam in the end.   In his gubernatorial campaign, Stapleton informed us that he served in the Navy and once was a wrestler.  The question is what, specifically, he will propose as a candidate or will criticize Baucus for.  His first day on the hustings produced bland, empty charges of “big deficits in Washington” and the like.  Generally speaking, the GOP field is shaping up to be seven dwarfs with no Snow White.  Champ Edmunds, Scott Reichner, Stapleton–all are state legislators with little to recommend them beyond their service in the legislature.   And as usual with Republican primaries in Montana, the field will likely consist of all, or nearly all, men. Continue reading

Rehberg’s New Office Status Begs Question about Where He’s Sleeping

Congressman Dennis Rehberg is back in the news after getting trounced by Montana voters last month, and once again, he’s raising more questions than answers.

The latest update from the soon-to-be-ex-(thank-god)-Congressman comes courtesy of reporter Mike Dennison, who writes that Rehberg has some sort of self-professed role in budget negotiations in Washington, D.C.

But Dennison’s story also hilariously notes that Rehberg “had to move out of his Washington, D.C., office last week” and is “working in a cubicle in the basement of a congressional office building.”

Over the years, numerous stories have repeated Rehberg’s claim that he sleeps on his office couch while in Washington.

Now that he (and his stuffed wolf and wooden duck) have moved out, and knowing that even in Congress cubicles are too small for couches, we should be asking: Exactly where in Washington is Dennis Rehberg sleeping now?


Hill, Rehberg Have Time for Reflection

Several things are going through Rick Hill’s and Denny Rehberg’s minds today.  First, he is wondering why he ignored the old adage, “pigs get fat and hogs get slaughtered.” Taking the $500,000 donation in circumvention of Montana law–even though the law was in a state of limbo–was a bad move. It wasn’t worth the risk, and Hill’s political instincts were clearly dulled from years on the sidelines. Taking the loot ensured weeks of awful headlines, branding him as a guy in a smoke filled room, flanked by fat cats chomping on cigars, and talking proudly of the fact they own the candidate, and handing him a briefcase packed with big bills.

Second, he must be reconsidering the pick of Sonju.  Hill only won by 1000 votes in Yellowstone County which makes victory virtually impossible for a Republican. Presumably, any Billings name on the ticket would have brought in substantial votes there, but would have left Hill’s performance in the Flathead (where Sonju comes from) largely intact. Sonju got the good end of the bargain. He’s now a rising star with statewide name recognition and will run for statewide office soon, a blueprint stamped out by Steve Daines, who ran with Roy Brown in 2008. His ticket tanked, but Daines carved out his own little thing, and made it work.

The other thing that Hill is kicking himself about is that he way overestimated the likelihood of a competitive primary, and the strength of the idiots who challenged him. All of them embarrassed themselves and were never serious contenders at all. They were political neophytes on the statewide scene, and if Hill had gauged this accurately, he would have done two things: pick a Billings running mate. (Sonju was a pick designed to shore up right wing votes in the Flathead, a conservative battleground), and he could have saved his money, and refrain from spending anything in the primary. Hill believed, in error, that his past sins of marital infidelity would blow up in his face in a primary, especially one inhabited by “moral” conservatives like Essman and Miller and Stapleton. He turned out to have been wrong. None of those yahoos had the skill or finances to mount a serious challenge. But Hill blinked, and Bullock came out of the gate in June with a huge financial edge, ran a mistake-free campaign, turned out key constituencies like Indian voters, and never looked back.

As for Denny, his contemplation today should be about his choice. Why did he choose to run for Senate? The answer cannot be that he wanted to accomplish some affirmative thing for Montana, because he does not believe in that type of stuff. He believes in negative government, occupying an office for the purpose of keeping liberals, or Democrats, out of it, lest they destroy society. So all Rehberg was doing was trying to upgrade the size of his office, get a larger budget for offices and an entourage of staffers, and have people call him Senator.

Denny is also probably wondering why he ever voted for a pay raise; and why he voted to allow the federal Homeland Security office to have domain over public lands. The pay-raises produced brutal copy for negative ads by Tester and Dems, while the land grab enraged Rehberg’s own base, especially when they were reminded about it in a terrific ad funded by an environmental group, who successfully used the issue to get conservatives to flee Rehberg and vote Libertarian. Dan Cox the libertarian got a record 6.5 points.

And Rehberg is also wondering why his twenty million dollar barrage of attack ads, telling voters that Tester supports Obama 95 percent of the time, was so ineffective. After all, Karl Rove came here and told Denny that he’d take care of business and put a knife in Tester by linking him to the president. But Rehberg knows the answer to this, and its eating his guts out: Tester worked hard for constituents for six years, hammering things out for loggers, vets, hunters, the elderly, Indian peoples, women and so on. And he earned the trust of Montana citizens, which allowed them to conceptualize Tester as someone distinct from Obama. Rehberg, on the other hand, sat around for twelve years, doing nothing at all except complaining about Democrats, riding the occasional right-wing wave, and free loading on a generally conservative state electorate. A worker always beats a free loader.

Karl Rove Woke Up This Morning with a Strange Pain in His Ass…

…only to discover that the pain in his ass was due to the fact that the entire 2012 election had been shoved up it.

Rove came up empty, in Presidential and Congressional races.

Here in Montana, Denny Rehberg has been sent packing by Jon Tester, in an enormous victory, a virtual landslide.  Tester blew him out.  Libertarian candidate Dan Cox got almost seven percent, one of the biggest takes by a third party candidate since Ross Perot got in the mid-twenties in 1992.

We should all be proud of what Tester did.  The polls showed him neck and neck going into the last days, but he got his vote out and closed big.  And he overcame an absolute monsoon of negative ads lasting three months, one of the biggest smears ever recorded on Montana’s airwaves, funded by Washington DC Republicans and Karl Rove’s group Crossroads GPS. He dumped tens of millions into the race (and even paid a visit to Montana, to help Rehberg with strategy), all of it impugning Tester for having had the temerity to support his President.  And the beauty is, it doesn’t really look like the attack worked at all.  Tester cruised to victory.  What mattered more to voters was that Tester turns in a workday, doesn’t whine or complain, doesn’t spend his days smearing people or blaming people, but tries accomplish something.

Same for Obama, the object of vitriolic GOP hatred, who demolished the weak Mitt Romney in spectacular fashion, defeating yet another empty, negative campaign by the Republicans.  Poor Rove, whose group spent half a billion dollars and got zilch in return.   Dems have actually picked up a seat in the United States Senate, and Rove had the dubious task on FOXNews last night of trying to convince the public that while every network and news outlet was projecting Obama the winner, they were, according to Rove, doing so in error.  He had secret math, you see, that showed Romney was, in fact, still going to win.  What happened in Montana and nationally, well, it couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy than Karl Rove.

Dennis Rehberg, meanwhile, concludes 12 years of federal service and many more years of state government service, and the Cowgirl blog recognizes this contribution to society.  Though we rarely agree with Rehberg and have always advocated against him, anybody stepping up to run for or hold public office deserves recognition and congratulations upon the completion of a career, as do his many staffers and operatives who spent the last two years in this fight.   We wish Denny and his crew well in his future endeavors. Perhaps we will even see him try again two years from now for the Senate or even four years from now for governor, or maybe even try to take his seat back if Steve Daines vacates his newly won House seat to try to move up to Senate.

Speaking of Governor, Lee Newspapers, CNN, and NBC have called the race for Bullock, and now AP has as well.  Down three points heading into the weekend according to a Mason Dixon poll, Bullock came up strong last night.  Votes are still outstanding in Yellowstone County and also in a few key Indian countries like Glacier and Bighorn.  But Bullock is showing about a 2 point edge right now, and I don’t believe it will be eroded much by the balance of votes yet to be counted.  He will be our next Governor.  Keep the cellphone tight, Steve, for Rick Hill will be calling you shortly to congratulate you and concede the race.

Hill, like Rehberg, deserves credit for trying a comeback late in life.  He came up short, and has now probably concluded his political career, but he put in a tough effort and should be congratulated on having waged a pretty close race

Pam Bucy and Kim Gillan fought the good fight, but were up against two guys who had run for statewide office before, and so these two impressive gals started out at a disadvantage. Expect to see both of them remain in the orbit of public service.  Either or both would be excellent applicants for Bullock cabinet positions and Bucy, I believe, will be back again to run for something else.

Daines got a huge investment from the national Republican party, so that made life miserable for Gillan who could not pull in the same dough from her party and was running for an office that seems to have the word Republican posted on the door.  It was an uphill battle from the get-go.  But Bucy, a far superior candidate to her opponent, got shafted.  Our new attorney general Tim Fox has achieved his office by being bankrolled by secret money, close to a million dollars worth, the source of which has still not been determined.  Bucy had no such slush fund.  When you tally up the money, Bucy got outspent 5-1 at least.  It puts a cap on a sad chapter in Montana electoral history, in which Republicans attempted to take over the government with unlimited, secret corporate money.  Poor Pam became the object of the corporate wrath, despite an impeccable resume that made her opponent look like a bum.

In other races, Juneau, Lindeen and McCulloch all have leads right now, but Juneau’s race will be tight. She’s up half a point, with Billings and Indian country yet to be reported. Let’s keep our fingers crossed for her.

We should be proud of all these candidates.  And, I am proud of all of you, who have participated in this election by tuning in, for keeping the discussion alive and spirited, providing information, and for making Cowgirl blog the place for politics in Montana.

Corruption Defines Montana’s 2012 Elections

Montana’s 2012 elections will go down in history–but not in a good way. Rather, this cycle will be remembered for corruption, lies, deceptive ads, illegal donations, apparent illegal coordination with third-party groups, and secret corporate money.

The season was kicked off with TEA Party Republican legislator Jason Priest secretive “Montana Growth Network” buying the Supreme Court race for TEA Party judge Laurie McKinnon. Priest’s shadow group spent more on one saturation mailing then the conservative candidate he was backing had raised for her entire campaign.

McKinnon, who dog whistled at Lincoln Reagan dinners across Montana about “judicial activism,” “strict constructionist” and other conservative buzzwords, was able to defeat the leading candidate Elizabeth Best in the primary–in spite of reports of alleged Judicial Code of Ethics violations reported in Montana papers across the state.   Priest’s  “Montana Growth Network” is thought to be one of the American Traditions Partnership’s many spinoffs.

Indeed no group has been more insidious than American Traditions Partnership in corrupting Montana’s elections.  ATP’s launched it’s biggest attack on Steve Bullock.  It mailed a fake newspaper to hundreds of thousands of Montanans depicting Bullock in a line-up of sex offenders.

In a brilliant piece of investigative journalism, the PBS show Frontline has revealed the seedy underbelly of secret money in Montana’s elections, with a full-hour expose of Montana politics and this secretive right-wing group.  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 apparent violation of the law, the Associated Press reports today.

ATP even sent mailers impersonating unions– using the unions’ logos–to attack local candidates that the unions have actually endorsed.

ATP wasn’t alone, unknown corporate groups dumped half a million dollars in illegal into Rick Hill’s campaign coffers, forcing a  judge to issue a restraining order against Hill to stop him from spending the illegal cash.  The Montana GOP claims the donation came from the Republican Governor’s Association, but shortly before the RGA sent the dough to the Montana GOP, that an entity calling itself the  ”Montana Law Foundation” sent $200,000 the the RGA. There’s only one reason that a fake Montana group would donate to the RGA instead of the Montana Republican Party and that’s to hide the donation’s source.

Tim Fox, the Montana Republican lunatic who is running for attorney general despite having never done anything other than defend drunk drivers and call for rape victims to have the rapists’ babies, got some national Republican donors to buy $700,000 of TV advertising on his behalf.  Fox Fox refused to reveal his true extremists beliefs.   Instead, he hid behind the hundreds of thousands of dollars in advertising that his corporate bosses– including the Koch brothers, the insurance industry and the cigarette companies put up to hide the truth.

Montana’s U.S. Senate race has also drawn a deluge of dark money aimed at defeating Jon Tester and replacing him with scandal-plagued extremist Dennis Rehberg.

Tonight, Montana citizens will find out whether ATP and groups like it will completely own our state and federal governments–using lies, deception, illegal activity and corporate money to install their candidates into office, from a P.O. Box, without ever revealing who their donors really are.

Ethics Group Says Cover-Up Likely in Rehberg Boat Crash

Yesterday, some of the court documents from Congressman Rehberg’s alcohol related boat crash on Flathead Lake were finally released, albeit in a heavily redacted version.

Much of this we already know.  When Rehberg didn’t bother to designate a sober driver, the accident sent the Congressman and three others to the hospital and put one of his staffers in a coma.  The report says that one crash victim Dustin Frost, a staffer of Rehberg’s “still suffers from injuries sustained in the crash.”    We already know that Rehberg said both Frost and Kristin Smith were “staffing” him that night, which he considered a “working evening.”  As these people’s boss, the responsibility to designate a sober driver should have been Rehberg’s.

The release did reveal some suspicious new details about the crash investigation.   The documents included a game warden’s report that rescue workers who initially reported smelling alcohol on GOP Sen. Greg Barkus’ breath would not reaffirm their own accounts later. As Citizens for Ethics in Washington (CREW) reports, the warden went down to the fire station to learn why the rescue team:

“changed their statement.”  The Fire Chief, Chuck Harris, was unable to explain the change, other than to say it was “possible that some did not want to get involved . . .”

CREW also found it odd that there is no record of the game warden who interviewed Congressman Rehberg at the time of the accident asking the most obvious question: Was the driver of the boat drinking?

As CREW points out, Rehberg later claimed to reporters that he saw “no signs of impairment” in Barkus, so why is there no record of what he said to investigators on the subject?

All of the evidence demonstrates Sen. Barkus had been drinking for some time before the accident — while in the company of Rep. Rehberg and the other boat passengers.  So, when Rep. Rehberg told reporters Sen. Barkus was not intoxicated, it appears he lied.  Shockingly, the report also suggests there was an effort to cover up the drinking that had clearly taken place that evening and that some of the first responders participated in that cover-up.

In this transcript of Rehberg’s September 9, 2009 conference call with reporters, the Congressman was asked about the owner of the boat, Republican state senator Greg Barkus:

AP CORRESPONDENT MATT GOURAS: Congressman, was there any indication that you could tell if Senator Barkus was impaired at all?

REP. DENNIS REHBERG: No.  Absolutely not.  It would be like me talking to you right now.  Yeah, and I have no idea what anybody else felt, I mean we can go through and second-guess ourselves forever on this thing, but as far as I can tell I saw no signs of impairment at all.  None.

There is much discussion of how much Barkus drank at the lake party itself, (whiskey, wine etc.) But if you read the report, you might also wonder what was in the  “red drinking cups” were found at the crash scene.  (Rehberg admitted earlier to seeing a “cooler of… margarita” on the boat.)

Again, this all could have been prevented had Rehberg designated a sober driver.  The boat crash report is online here.

In Flathead County, the Price of Transparency is $82.50 Per Email

A Flathead County official is claiming that citizens who want to see the public documents related to Dennis Rehberg’s boat crash must pay a photocopying fee of $82.50–even if no copies are made.

Flathead area blogger James Conner contacted the county requesting that a PDF of the Rehberg boat crash documents be made available electronically.   He was told that the hefty photocopying fee must be paid even if no photocopies were produced.  You can see the exchange for yourself at the Flathead Memo.

People of the Flathead, this is your county government in action.  If it costs them $82.50 to push the send button on an email, I’d hate to see what they charge for answering their own phones.


Hill Takes Hit in the Polls After Illegal $500,000 Donation, Tester’s Lead Over Rehberg Widens

The first public poll since former Congressman Rick Hill took an illegal $500,000 is out today.

The Pharos Research Group survey has Steve Bullock leading Rick Hill 47% – 44%.  The poll also shows that Tester’s lead against Rehberg is growing, although the race is still very close.  Bullock and Tester prevail in the survey despite a strong Republican sample.

Pharos Research Group conducted the live call poll of 799 likely voters in Montana from October 26 through October 28.  Of those polled, 31%  identified as Democrats, 43% identified as Republicans and 26% said they were Independents.

Forty-eight percent of those polled were men and 52% were women. You can read the entire poll here.