Political Gossip, Satire, and Analysis from MT's Capital City "…a viral sensation…"–Markos Moulitsas, Daily Kos "Among the best state-based political blogs in the nation."–Washington Post "MT Cowgirl gets more scoops than anyone. The online voice of the left in Montana." –Billings Gazette
Montanans from across the state are gathering in Helena to oppose TEA Party Sen. Jennifer Fielder’s plans to takeover our public lands with SB 215 and a “package” of other such bills.
It’s ridiculous that the Lee Newspaper story on the land grab doesn’t even mention where Fielder got the idea, which is copied from a Utah state legislator named Ken Ivory and his “group” the American Lands Council.
Ivory has been touring around pushing the idea that states should condemn and sell of public land. He says this will help pay off the national debt. This is an ALEC boilerplate bill, of which there are several this session, 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 ridiculed across the U.S. The Utah legislature’s own legal staff has said the idea is unconstitutional.
But that doesn’t stop those looking for ways to become the next Cliven Bundy or Robert. E. Lee–and since Fielder can’t figure out how to secede, she is hoping to spark a new sagebrush rebellion in the Montana legislature.
Somewhere along the line, our state Legislature — or at least certain members of it — stopped deliberating on what is best for the state and turned the whole process into a stage for politicians to preen and prance in front of their base with absurd proposals that consume valuable time and money…..
We get it, Reps. Wittich and Burnett: Some of your constituents dislike and distrust the federal government. But is it really necessary to turn the Legislature into a circus sideshow to keep them happy? These measures aren’t going to be enacted, and even if they were, they are utterly unenforceable.
Let’s drop the theatrics and get to the state’s real business.
Another glaringly ludicrous ALEC bill this session is Cary Smith’s SB 148, which is an almost verbatim version of the ALEC bill found here. The Florida ALEC “State Policy Network” affiliate Floridians for Government Accountability is also pushing a slew of boilerplate legislation designed to defeat medicaid expansion and crack down on the poor.
The race for Montana Supreme Court is critically important to all Montanans and it is very important that Justice Mike Wheat be re-elected to the Court. Wheat’s experience, qualifications, and personal integrity make him a fair and impartial judge. He has a solid reputation and has always been a proponent for continuation of Montana’s Constitutional mandate of an independent and nonpartisan judiciary. The balance of the Montana Supreme Court is at stake.
Wheat’s opponent, Lawrence VanDyke, is running a very partisan campaign. VanDyke’s campaign is being fueled by mostly out of state donors who are clearly affiliated with the Republican / Tea Party. Over 95% of Justice Mike Wheat’s reported campaign contributions have come from Montana residents. Compare that to VanDyke, who only recently returned to the state and has received the bulk of his reported political funding from out of state sources. Let’s take a further look in to VanDyke’s out of state campaign donations, which clearly show that his support is coming from the activist conservative right. Let’s take a closer look at where VanDyke’s support is coming from. Here are some of his major donors:
As Mother Jones reported: “Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s son got his job through a recess appointment during George W. Bush administration. Bush nominated Eugene Scalia—a DC lawyer and Antonin’s second eldest—to be solicitor at the Labor Department in 2001. Democrats in the Senate balked. Part of the reason was Eugene’s record: He’d spent much of the 1990s fighting workplace safety rules (specifically ergonomic regulations) both in court and in articles.”
2. Miguel Estrada – (who is also another Gibson Dunn connection)
This guy was another Bush nominee for the D.C. circuit court of appeals. Although nominated, his appointment was blocked by Senate dems because he was a conservative ideologue with no experience as a judge
He also, like Lawrence Van Dyke, worked at Gibson Dunn. but more must be said about why VanDyke’s employment with this law firm keeps coming up in this race.
Remember dear readers that nearly a third of VanDyke’s money comes from people who work at this “white shoe” Wall Street and Washington, D.C. law firm.
You see, VanDyke’s former firm Gibson Dunn is notorious in Montana because they they were found guilty by a Great Falls jury of filing a frivolous lawsuit against a man who identified a painting as work by his own grandfather rather than Charlie Russell. As the Wall Street Journal reported Gibson Dunn then went on the attack against this poor man, because that meant said painting was only worth $50k or so rather than nearly a million bucks.
The court found that the firm, which employs about 800 lawyers, acted with a “high level of misconduct” and is using the courts as a “tool” in an attempt to intimidate Steve Seltzer, a Montana painter and Olaf’s grandson, who is an expert in his grandfather’s work. Gibson Dunn’s “use of the judicial system amounts to legal thuggery,” the state Supreme Court said.
Realize that I’m not talking about Gibson Dunn’s client–this is the law firm itself that was found guilty and called thugs by the Montana Supreme Court of “actual malice” against this poor Montanan. The Supreme Court ordered them to pay over $20 million in punitive damages to this guy–one of the largest penalties in history. You can read more about what thugs these guys were here.
“From May through November 2012, Chris took a leave of absence from the firm to move to Boston, MA, where he served as Deputy General Counsel to former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign.”
Acolytes of the project say they won’t settle for “polishing brass on a sinking ship,”
“Victories in the area of pro-life, religious liberty, and family values not only have the potential to preserve individuals’ lives and enable them to hear of salvation, but also to glorify God as society is reordered bit by bit according to His design.”
That means no abortion rights, no marriage equality, and a view of the First Amendment so radical and expansive that merely asserting a religious objection to state or federal laws—be they health insurance laws, or anti-discrimination statutes—would permit individuals to be exempt.
“Mr. Kilberg currently serves as Co-Chair of the National Finance Committee and Chair of the Policy Committee on Labor for the Romney for President campaign.”
Now, let’s take a look at some of the few VanDyke donors who are actually residents of Montana. To be sure, VanDyke hasn’t lived here very long so he probably doesn’t know many people yet. But just look at who he’salready affiliated with.
“Thompson is also active in Montana politics, where he has supported one of the tea party’s most radical candidates, Derek Skees, who’s running for a seat in the Montana house. Skees, who showed up at a Memorial Day parade this summer wearing a jacket emblazoned with a Confederate flag, and has been connected to anti-Semitic and militia activity, is a tea party purist He has advocated nullifying federal health care laws, refusing federal stimulus money, and shutting down many of the state’s school districts and giving kids vouchers to help cut the budget by letting the private sector fill the gap.”
By the way, the source of all these campaign donations is followthemoney.org, which is worth checking out if you’re interested in learning more about the element behind Lawrence VanDyke.
On the other hand, Justice Mike Wheat has a proven record of dedication to the people of Montana. He has distinguished himself as a member of the Montana Supreme Court for nearly 5 years, and was a practicing attorney in Montana for over 30 years prior. In addition, his personal experiences of community involvement and public service add to his well-rounded background. If you value a fair and independent judiciary, I encourage you to vote to re-elect Justice Mike Wheat to the Montana Supreme Court.
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.
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.
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.
[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-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.
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.
A Montana case is the next battle in the fight to keep elections from being for sale to the highest bidder by keeping campaign finance limits in place.
Now, a group of leading national legal non-profit advocacy groups including Free Speech for People, former Montana Supreme Court Justice James Nelson, the American Independent Business Alliance, the American Sustainable Business Council, the Campaign Legal Center, Common Cause, Justice at Stake and the League of Women Voters are joining Montanans in the fight to keep Montana’s campaign finance limits in place.
The groups joined the defense of Montana’s campaign finance limits with an amicus brief and and amici brief in Lair v. Motl. They are urging the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit to overturn a District Court ruling that struck down Montana’s political campaign contribution limits. Earlier, a District Court disregarded both Ninth Circuit and Supreme Court precedent to overturn Montana’s limits on contributions to state candidates, including judges, from individuals and political parties.
In Lair v. Motl, American Traditions Partnership board member Doug Lair wants campaign finance limits abolished. Several prominent Republican office holders and candidates in Montana caught up in the infamous Meth House Scandal, in which documents belonging to the infamous American Tradition Partnership (ATP), were found in a Colorado meth house. The documents incriminated TEA Party Senate leader Art Wittich, Mike Miller, Derek Skees, Pat Wagman, Jerry O’Neil, Bob Wagner, Dan Kennedy, Scott Mendenhall, Wendy Warburton, Ed Butcher, and Tom Burnett to name a few. Wager, Burnett, Miller, O’Neil and Wittich are currently running for office.
Here’s how Ron Fein, Legal Director of Free Speech For People, explains it: “Campaign contribution limits are justified by an interest in ensuring political equality for all, regardless of access to wealth. When political equality is jeopardized, democracy itself is at risk.”
Justice James Nelson, a former Justice of the Montana Supreme Court, and on of the court’s most respected justices, said, “Candidates for political office and elections should not be for sale to the biggest spenders. The Supreme Court has decreed that money equals speech; and contribution limits help to level a playing field tipped in favor of the big spenders by Citizens United.” I could not agree more.
The District Court overturned the Montana’s candidate contribution limits applicable to individuals and PACs, even though the limits have already been upheld by the Ninth Circuit.
In addition to the limits on candidate contributions from individuals and PACs, the lower court struck down Montana’s limits as they apply to contributions from political party committees. Montana does not limit the amount that any individual or PAC may give to political parties, but instead restricts the “aggregate” amount a candidate can receive from his or her political party.
Surprisingly, the issue hasn’t been covered by Montana news outlets, even though its the next step in a nationwide battle to protect America’s and Montana’s elections from corruption.
After all, this case comes on the heels of the Supreme Court’s recent decision in McCutcheon v. FEC, which struck down longstanding limits on the total amount of money wealthy individuals could contribute to federal candidates in an election cycle. As with the Citizens United ruling which now allows unlimited corporate dollars into our elections, the high court’s McCutcheon decision is unleashing further money into the political process from wealthy interests.
The votes are in and the favorites generally won their races last night. Walsh, Lewis, Zinke, Daines.
Resources were mattered. Zinke and Walsh had them, and it made the difference. Matt Rosendale was a bit surprising given that he spent about even with Zinke, but in the end, in a crowded field full of aspiring lunatics, the moderate candidate will often win. Just ask Rick Hill or Mitt Romney. That’s an important reality for the Tea Party to grapple with, which is that they have very primary insurgent victories for all the trouble they try to cause. This year, oddly, it was centrists who tried to act like Tea Partiers–Rick Hill, for example–but even that didn’t work.
John Bohlinger put up a good fight but in the end, Walsh stayed the course and delivered a resounding victory, as one would expect a sitting Senator to do. Bohlinger was always facing a peculiar challenge of having to persuade voters that he is no longer a Republican, and that, plus a lack of funds or organization, probably weighed him down heavily. Walsh will now have to amp it up. Nate Silver is giving him only a fractional chance at winning the race. I personally think Daines is beatable, because he is a member of Congress polling below 40%.
John Lewis gave away a surprising 40% to John Driscoll, but Lewis saved his money, kept his powder dry, and now has some good ammo to begin the shooting war with Ryan Zinke. That will be an interesting affair. Expect a swiftboating of Zinke, given his questionable use of funding and the strange ambiguity surrounding his military record, which even his fellow Seals are talking about. Meanwhile, expect Zinke to try to hang Obamacare around Lewis’s neck, through the Baucus connection. This is a campaign that will be won by the smarter, savvier operation, I believe. Lewis is probably the Dem’s best chance in a decade to recapture this seat, although this is simply by virtue of the fact that he is a legitimate candidate. None of the nominees since 2002 has even raised real money or mounted a serious campaign. That’s going to change now. And remember the best thing that Democrats always have going for them: Republicans in Montana seem to be getting better and better at losing races they should win. They are simply not good at modern political strategy.
Also, good news in Ravalli County: the two wing-nut county commissioners and a treasurer who have turned Ravalli into a statewide Tea Party farce, all incumbents, were sent packing in the GOP primary. The TEA Partier in the Bozeman County Commission race, Barb Blum, also lost in the primary contest for that open commission seat. In Lake County, TEA Partier Rory Horning failed to unseat incumbent county commissioner Bill Barron. Bad news in Broadwater County, where a top two style non-partisan county commission election sent forward not just the popular Laura Obert but also TEA Party bigot Tim Ravndal, who made national news for comments he made that implied support for violence against gays. Ravndal was kicked out of the Helena TEA Party and formed his own new conservative TEA Party. (If this were a Lee Newspapers blog, you’d be reading how these commission races show equal wins for TEA Partiers and main street Republicans.)
In the Public Service Commission race, Brad Johnson easily Derek Skees in the GOP primary. He will now face Galen Hollenbaugh. Skees is a Flathead County agitator whose base constituency is made up of skinheads and recently arrived bible-belt transplants. These nuts once thought they had a glorious Tea Party future but it’s kind of crumbled now. Skees has now been beaten by a guy who ran his last race for public office out of a rehab facility.
The Montana Human Rights Network has uncovered another connection between Hope Pregnancy Ministries/Clear Choice Clinic, Michelle Reimer, director of the Hope Pregnancy Ministries, purchased All Families Clinic’s former building location and kicked Susan Cahill out ten years ago. Susan Cahill then was forced to find another location for her clinic–only to have her clinic destroyed by vandalism–leaving her again unable to operate.
“We knew that Hope was more politically anti-choice then they let on. Now with the connection of the accused vandal, Zachary Klundt, to Hope and knowing that Hope’s director bought the clinic’s building out from under Susan, we think there is reason to question if Hope is engaged in a concerted effort to deny women their constitutional rights by making reproductive health care inaccessible in the Flathead Valley,” said Rachel Carroll Rivas, Co-Director at MHRN, in a press release.
The Montana Human Rights Network also reported first on the organization’s Facebook page about the connections of Zachary Klundt, the man who was arrested today in connection with the break-in and vandalism of a women’s clinic in Kalispell, Montana. Nothing was stolen from the clinic, instead, “extensive damage” was found.
Zachary Klundt is the son of a woman named Twyla Klundt, who is on the board of Hope Pregnancy Ministries which is affiliated with a fake women’s clinic called Clear Choice–which is a so-called “crisis pregnancy center,” MHRN reports.
Skees works for Hope Pregnancy Ministries [screenshot] as the so-called crisis pregnancy center’s Resource Director. She is running for legislature in House District 7 in Kalispell against Frank Garner in a GOP primary. Skees is the TEA Partier in that race.
A crisis pregnancy center, in case you aren’t familiar with them yet, is basically a fake doctor’s office run by an anti-choice organization which poses as a medical clinic to get pregnant women seeking abortions or medical care in the door. Once women are inside, the staffers often then give women a Walmart pregnancy test out of the box and make them watch films with fake claims about the evils of abortion. There are all kinds of horror stories about these places, and there are several in operation in Montana. Some states have passed “truth in advertising” laws the prohibit these places from posing as medical clinics.Anyway, as the Montana Human Rights Network’s researchers report, “In 2010 white supremacist April Gaede solicited donations for Hope Pregnancy Ministries.”Even if you haven’t heard of April Gaede, you’ve probably heard of her twin daughters, Lamb and Lynx, who used to have a white power musical group called Prussian Blue. The two girls have been referred to as the “Nazi Pop Twins,” the Human Rights Network reports. The Southern Poverty Law Center calls Gaede “a neo-Nazi stage mom” and includes a picture with her profile.
Gaede has posted on the white supremacist website Stormfront that she‘s given to Hope Pregnancy Ministries in the past, and that she believes giving money to that organization is a good way to “help save White babies.” I won’t link to Stormfront, nor should anyone. As MHRN reports:
Gaede‘s posting continued by saying she has ―personally met many of these people (Ministries‘ staff). She told her peers to tell staff members that they were supporters of Stormfront, the white supremacist website where Gaede made her request, when making a donation. She included the mailing address and website address for the Ministries.
Gaede encouraged her fellow white supremacists to send funds, because “our local population is over 95% White so they would be ―pretty much guaranteed to be helping to save White babies.”
Recall that Zachary Klundt, the man charged with four felonies in connection with the vandalism of a women’s clinic in Kalisepell is the son of a woman named Twyla Klundt, who is on the board of Hope Pregnancy Ministries.
To be sure, this new information about the Hope Pregnancy Ministries ties may or may not inform the investigation and or the case. Only time, good investigative reporting, law enforcement investigations, and the courts will tell.Tweet
Steve Daines and Ted Cruz at a TEA Party caucus press event.
As you all know, Montana Republicans are a nativist and xenophobic crew, who hurl “out-of-state” as a nasty insult and love to tout the number of generations back that their lineage has lived in Montana. Many a pale chest is thumped mightily as if these men had a role in choosing the location of their births.
So we should assume that the GOP power brokers are currently holding an emergency meeting in a smoke-filled room somewhere, urgently trying to decide how to handle a shocking development within the party: Continue reading →Tweet
The vice-Chair of the state Republican Party, Sen. Jennifer Fielder promoted the gathering of an extreme anti-government group appeared as a keynote speaker at the group’s event. But when a reporter showed up, “she quickly distanced herself from [Defend Rural America leader Kirk] MacKenzie when asked about his extreme rhetoric and ideas,” which included that “neo-environmentalists” are “domestic terrorists.” Fielder said that the group ideas weren’t what she thought they would be.
So now she knows, and there’s no longer a way to claim ignorance.
But Sen. Fielder must not be too upset about the group’s views. She’s invited yet another Defend Rural America speaker, Doyel Shamley, to present information to a legislative hearing this Wed, Jan 8. You can see that he appears under Fielder’s portion of the Environmental Quality Council agenda.
Shamley appears on the MT EQC agenda, billed as a “natural resource consultant.” But Doyel Shamely is so much more.
Shamely is the host of a somewhat creepy conspiracy theory program which posits that politicians, lawmakers, members of the royal family, the illuminati and others have created a “New World Order” through which they attempt to control the thoughts and beliefs of everyday people–of course, there is connection to UFO’s and aliens visiting planet Earth.
Is there a New World Order? Are they trying to control every part of our lives? Are we treated like sheep?…Are they politicians, company directors, religious leaders, royalty, lawmakers, or all of the above and more? How old is their rule? And what secret organization do they belong to?
Perhaps more importantly, are UFOs actually visiting our planet? Have they been here for thousands of years? All this and more is constantly investigated by thousands of people around the globe and nobody more than the Hour of Our Time Show*[hosted by Shamely]…Are they trying to control our minds? Are they lying about the Alien Threat? You decide.
Indeed Fielder has decided that Montana’s lawmakers need to hear from this consultant–apparently no other natural resources speaker would do.
Yes, the truth sometimes has a way of coming out, but that hasn’t stopped Fielder from tried hide from and disassociate herself from the extremist views of these “expert consultants” she consorts with.
For example, Sen. Dick Barrett (D-Missoula) provided her with an email with information about the watershed consultant hired by TEA partiers to block a tribal water rights agreement negotiated by the state of Montana and the CSKT. Kate Vandemoer (yes, this is the Usurpathoner) has a birther blog with some pretty extreme, marginal views–and some writings that reflect the soundness of her judgement. But Fielder got angry and insisted that the contents of Vandemoer’s “personal” blog (whatever that might mean) were not relevant. But in the same breath, she claimed that she had never read the blog. I encourage you to read this informative chain of emails below the fold.
The most cursory review of Vandemoer’s very public blog (Dr Kate’s View) shows that Vandemoer uses it not only to promote her multitudinous and bizarre birther conspiracy theories, she also uses it to share her views on water and watershed politics.
In a post entitled “Watershed Politics” Vandemoer writes the following. (Apologies for the long passage but they illustrate this “expert’s” state of mind.)
the landscape of our America was shaped by our Constitution, the very blood and water of our country…Upon this hallowed ground–nothing more than a chessboard to some– a dark rain has fallen for decades…it is falling and now drenching. I remember being in the wilderness for weeks on horseback, wondering what the black ‘goo’ was on the vegetation and the rocks…This foreign rain, and the raging torrents it produces, are attempting to capture that stream and dream known as America. It is trying to erode our landscape, our system, in order to capture liberty and train it into a controlled system of slavery, where the course of everyone’s life is determined by a single train of thought–communism, new world orderism. The NWO has intentionally created these devastating torrents to undermine sovereignty, liberty, and freedom…indeed I have felt that the very foundation of our country is threatened…and with increasing force.
Does the NWO think it is God, such that it can flood the world with poison rain and torrential rivers to destroy all of creation, and refashion it to its liking (and control)?
She uses the blog to share her belief that climate change is a diversionary tactic to keep the public from looking into a list of conspiracy theories: such as “weather modification by geoengineering“–Vandemoer believes the government is creating natural disasters so that it may “take over our lives.” There’s also HAARP (a secret weapon conspiracy nuts think is used for weather modification. And don’t forget “chemtrails, and microwave pulses.”
So even if Fielder doesn’t scramble to distance herself from the conspiracies, or Vandemoer’s belief that, “the Rothschilds (translated ‘Red Shield), Rockefellers, and many other monied JKhazar Jews, who together form a cabal acting like a synagogue of Satan that is in full gear enforcing its agenda on America, including Agenda 21.” Even if Sen. Fielder does not believe that these views call “Dr. Kate’s” judgement into question, Vandemoer’s views on water as a water consultant should give any sane person pause.
For tomorrow’s legislative meeting. Fielder has invited another extremist to town. She’s asked Ken Ivory to the legislative committee tomorrow. Ivory is the Utah legislator who carried a bill requiring the Federal government to cede much of its land in Utah to the state.
This guy Ivory has already appeared in Ravalli County. Actually, he’s been touring around pushing this idea to other states at ALEC conferences too–legislative language is conveniently available now in ALEC boilerplate. Montanans will remember this idea as one of the infamous nutjob bills of the 2011 legislature, sponsored by Derek Skees.
Unfortunately for Ivory (and ALEC), Utah’s Office of Legislative Research and General Counsel had to go and point out a pile of pesky case law with regard to public lands going back to the 1870s that gives the bill “a high probability of being declared unconstitutional.” And the Salt Lake Tribune has called Ivory’s effort “tilting at windmills.” Arizona rejected it. The bill was vetoed by TEA Party Governor Jan Brewer. In Montana, the bill didn’t even make it out of committee.
But the GOP loves to throw these kinds of pointless proposals out there, in spite of the fact that it is a complete waste of public resources to do so. It’s political grandstanding to rally the extreme-right conservative TEA Party base and to feed their antigovernment conspiracy narrative.
Skees is also the creator of the 2011 election cycles most…interesting political ad. He lost big to Monica Lindeen for state auditor that year. So we’re likely to see more such hilarity in 2014.
He made national news as a TEA Party nutjob and states-rights fanatic. He believes that the fifty states individually can, should and must override federal law when they please. He admittedly does not recognize the supremacy clause of the US Constitution and believes Abraham Lincoln was the villain and cause of the Civil War, that the Southern States had the right to do what they wanted, including own slaves, without interference from the federal government. Such ideas were explicitly expressed by Skees in an e-mail to a supporter in 2010, which was published in the Flathead Memo at the time but has so far received little coverage from major newspapers in the state (which raises disturbing questions).
Derek Skees (right) at a TEA Party rally in Kalispell.
Montanans aren’t very fond of right-wing radicals nor people who wear confederate flags. Plus the current PSC is already over-stuffed with angry right wingers like the infamous Roger Koopman, whose early history is chronicled nicely at A Chicken is Not Pillage. So the addition of Skees would leave the PSC even more unbalanced.
What’s also interesting is that Mr. Skees is implicated in the American Tradition Partnership illegal coordination scandal. Montana’s top election regulator says he’s launching an investigation into candidates ATP helped to elect in 2010, and the results of the investigation could become public at any time. Skees could be on the list of candidates who will be investigated because documents linked to Mr. Skees were uncovered in a brilliant work of national investigative journalism PBS did last year. In a full-hour exposé of Montana politics and the secretive right-wing group, PBS’s show Frontline revealed the secret stash of incriminating documents which was found in a meth house, showing extensive communications between several GOP legislative candidates and the ATP, and showing that the ATP was even preparing campaign material for them, such as this letter.
The democratic candidate for the seat is state Rep. Galen Hollenbaugh (D-Helena). Hollenbaugh has been in the state legislature since 2006 and the voters have returned him to office in each election since then. He’s vice-chair of the House Appropriations Committee and a member of the Joint Appropriations Subcommittee on Natural Resources and Transportation.
TEA Party republicans are attempting distance themselves from a group they promoted and for which they appeared as keynote speakers after a local reporter started asking questions. However, in the same news story, the lawmakers say they plan to implement the very group’s ideas. Here’s what happened.