Tag Archives: Gary Marbut

Five Mind-Bogglingly Stupid Things the House Did to Decimate MT’s Outdoor Economy

The state Senate began deliberations on the state’s budget today, after the House massacred it earlier this session.

As Sen. Minority Leader Jon Sesso wrote in an op-ed in the Great Falls Tribune:

Republicans slashed $160 million in essential services in spite of Montana’s economic prosperity. Republicans refused 73 amendments and passed a budget in complete disarray, one that is unacceptable to our caucus and offensive to hard-working Montanans. These cuts will disproportionately affect the most vulnerable of our citizens while other measures and proposed tax cuts would deplete the $300 million rainy day fund.

There was no apparent rhyme or reason to the cuts, indeed many were blatantly stupid.

Take , for example, what the GOP legislature did to the budget of the Department of Fish Wildlife and Parks.   Ignorant of, or simply ignoring the fact that out-of-state visitors alone pump $4 billion a year into Montana’s economy, the Montana House of Representatives has taken a blowtorch to everything that makes managing Montana’s parks and outdoor recreation efficient, well-run, and easily accessible.

Here are five of the most glaring examples:


1. HB 403 – the Republican answer to the portions of FWP that were contained in Governor Bullock’s Build Montana economic development bill (which while not dead has certainly been slashed to a bloody pulp).

The sponsor of HB 403  is Rep. Dave Hagstrom (TEA-Billings). Cowgirl readers are familiar with this guy and his comments about ballpoint pens and his letters to low income people about how they should expect to die soon.  Hagstrom amended his bill to bar the department from spending it’s money on a whole list of responsible management programs. The House gutted public access and habitat funding from the bill.Hagstrpsaid he thought this was a good idea because he intends to eliminate these habitat and access programs for good in the 2017 Legislature.   These programs were established by previous legislatures and are heavily supported by hunters and anglers.   HB 403 passed the house today.  The programs that were eliminated, and the programs that the legislature barred FWP from spending any money on, are listed here:

  • Habitat Montana
  • Upland Bird Habitat Enhancement Program
  • Migratory Bird Program (reduced spending authority by 25%)
  • Bighorn Sheep Habitat Program
  • Fishing Access Site Acquisition Program

2. HB 234 – In case you haven’t been following this debacle, this one is one of the most idiotic of the bunch. Rep. Nancy Ballance is carrying this shooting range bill on behalf of gun nut Gary Marbut.  This bill was debated on the house floor today.  It actually requires FWP to dedicate $350,000/year to shooting ranges.

There is a big problem with doing this. The U.S. government has indicated this bill will create a diversion of FWP funds which will make Montana  ineligible for $27 million in funds we get from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife service–every year.  This money pays for about 1/3 of all fish and wildlife management programs in our state.  Not smart, right?

Ballance says she wants her shooting range program to become the FWP’s highest priority program–above anything else.  No joke.  She and Marbut said that if this money is not spent on  shooting ranges, the overseeing officials are subject to fines and/or jail time.  But here’s the kicker:  Montana already has a shooting range program–we’ve had it for 25 years.  And the shooting range program gets all the funding it needs through grants, so there is no need to force Montana to lose $27 million by trying to divert other money toward it.

3. HB 146 - This bill by Rep. Flynn should be called the “Hey tourists who spend $4 billion in Montana’s economy every year, we don’t want you here, so get the heck out of our state” bill.    It forces a massive increase to non-resident hunting and fishing licenses and translates to a $1.4 million dollars loss to FWP’s work.

4.   HB 2 – the primary bill funding all Fish Wildlife and Parks (and all agency) operations.

  • The Legislature has failed to fund the full pay plan implemented by Gov. Bullock over the current biennium – in FWP that means another $750,000 reduction annually in funding for staff.
  • The Legislature ruled that the the popular Block Management Program must be automatically removed from the budget after the next two years.  The program has been successful for over 25 years, but is now uncertain into the future.  There doesn’t appear to be any logic behind this.
  • The Legislature refused to fund the work the Fish Wildlife and Parks must do to enforce the laws they themselves passed.  Again, pure stupidity here. Is there anything more nonsensical than a group of folks who says, we demand that you do something, but we refuse to allow you to use the resources you need to do it?

5. HB 5 – the primary bill for all infrastructure needs

  • The House of Representatives voted to bar the FWP from spending money on habitat and fishing access site programs.   Note that I didn’t say cut the funding, the funding is STILL THERE.  The agency is simply not allowed to spend it.  Again, the legislature itself passed laws requiring these programs, and requiring that certain money can ONLY be spent on these programs.  So the world class minds in the house have declared that $12.5 million dollars will simply be left to accumulate in an account.  This means that many worthy projects may be lost–even though Montana has the money to spend on them and they are set up by the legislature itself.

There is one small bright spot, however.   HB 140 is a good bill. -Rep. Jeff Wellborn (R-Dillon) is carrying it and it is estimated to generate an additional $5.7 million per year that will allow FWP to sustain its current programs out to 2021.  Without this legislation, FWP will need to reduce its current programs by the $5.7 million during the next biennium to stay within its current revenue stream.  HB 140 passed out of the House on a solid vote of 70- 30, but has yet to be heard in the Senate.  The bill needs to stay as is and pass the Senate with no amendments if at all possible.

If amendments are added in the Senate, it must return to the House or be banished to a conference committee if the house rejects the amendments. And everyone knows that this session, most bills that must be sent to a conference committee appointed by leadership are being sent to their deaths.


Gun Nut Threatens Utility Company

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Gary Marbut

A silly gun referendum has been proposed by Matthew Monforton, the grandstanding Tea Partier from California who recently arrived in Bozeman and now sits in the state House.

This ballot measure would create a new right of action whereby anyone, anywhere, who feels that their guns rights have been “burdened” by any action of anyone else, will essentially be able to sue and collect damages.

To get support, Monforton has enlisted a power player, Gary Marbut, the frightening lunatic who has been appearing at the State Capitol to lobby for gun rights lately.   He lobbies for every right-wing gun bill, such as those that would allow guns in schools, guns on campus, guns in bars and banks; and my personal favorite, the bill that declares all federal gun laws to be null and void.

This week, however, Marbut got carried away.  He sent a threatening letter to Northwestern Energy, scolding them for sending the company’s lobbyist into a hearing at the legislature to oppose Monforton’s stupid referendum.  Northwest Energy forbids firearms on company premises, and they are concerned about potential consequences of this new proposal.  The company could end up facing lawsuits simply because it doesn’t want workers bring guns to the workplace.

According to the Missoulian, Marbut told Northwest Energy that if they continue to oppose the measure, he will “cause political problems” for the company.  Hilariously, his specific threat is that if Northwestern ignores him, Marbut “might start showing up at Public Service Commission hearings to oppose NorthWestern in rate cases or other proceedings, or telling friendly legislators to oppose bills the company supports.”

Something tells me that Northwestern Energy doesn’t really care about Marbut showing up at a PSC hearing.  But I could be wrong.  After all, he will probably have a gun in the hearing.

Cowgirl Blog Primary Election Predictions

Here are my predictions for the most important races in the primary, the state legislative races.

While some bloggers have chosen to focus on the races that Lee Newspapers once deemed important, the real question on everyone’s mind is who will prevail tomorrow night- the TEA Party extremists or the main street republicans. Nowhere is this battle for the GOP hotter than where incumbents face challengers – from the left and from the right.

These are among the key bellwether races to watch tomorrow night.

Certainly I’ll also be watching what happens with the TEA Party’s fake Trojan horse dems, and what happens in primaries with MT Family Foundation recruits like Debra Lamm in Livingston, Marissa Stockton in East Helena, and Ronalee Skees vs. Frank Garner is the Flathead. The Flathead has several interesting legislative races to watch actually.

The Missoula County Sheriff’s race, where two fake democrats are running against T.J. McDermott, is important.  Tim Ravndal is running for County Commissioner in Broadwater County, which is frightening.  Another race to watch for those seeking to take the TEA Party’s pulse is the Gallatin County Commission race, where Don Seifert faces TEA Partier Barb Blum (backed by Roger Koopman).

Let me know if you agree or disagree and what other races you’re watching in the comments.

HD 17 Rep. Christi Clark of Choteau vs. TEA Parter Jim Anderson. Anderson is the TEA Partier who hijacked the Teton County Republican Party’s annual shrimp peel fundraiser for the TEA Party. Local Republicans are not pleased. Prediction: ClarkScreen shot 2014-06-03 at 6.05.58 AM
HD 18 Rep. Rob Cook of Conrad vs. endorsed TEA Partier Ann MorrenPrediction: CookScreen shot 2014-06-03 at 6.05.58 AM
HD 19 Rep. Roger Hagan of Great Falls vs. TEA Partier Randy Pinocci, who is backed by Gary Marbut. Prediction: HaganScreen shot 2014-06-03 at 6.05.58 AM
HD 27 Rep. Roy Hollandsworth of Brady vs. right winger Darrold HutchinsonPrediction: HollandsworthScreen shot 2014-06-03 at 6.05.58 AM
HD 30 Rep. Ryan Osmundson of Buffalo/vs. Right-winger and 86-year-old Jim PaughPrediction: OsmundsonScreen shot 2014-06-03 at 6.05.58 AM
HD 40 Rep. Tom Berry vs. TEA Party winger Ray Gorman. Prediction: BerryScreen shot 2014-06-03 at 6.05.58 AM
HD 53 TEA Party wingut Rep. Sarah Laszloffy, age 20 of Laurel, who attended a school which teaches you how to bring people back from the dead.  No Joke.  TEApublican Rep. Sarah Laszloffy is an alum of the Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry. (She’s also the daughter of MT Family Foundation wackjob Jeff Laszloffy) vs. former long-time legislator Mark Noennig, well respected by the business community. Prediction: Toss-up.  Noennig can win this and voters would be much better represented by him, but papa bear Laszloffy is likely to pull out all the stops to keep his pawn daughter in office.Screen shot 2014-06-03 at 6.05.58 AM
HD 71 In Madison County, Rep. Ray Shaw vs. Birther Bob Wagner, a former Representative infamous for losing economic development for his district and making an ass of himself on national television. Voters already ousted Wagner in favor of Shaw once. Prediction: ShawScreen shot 2014-06-03 at 6.05.58 AM
HD 72 Rep. Jeff Wellborn of Dillan vs. TEA Party college Republican Brooke ErbPrediction: WellbornScreen shot 2014-06-03 at 6.05.58 AM
HD 80 Rep. Mike Miller vs. Patrick Johnson/Ron Vandevendor. Prediction: Miller, since not enough Montanans will have heard of his political practices shennanigans.  Miller is being challenged from the left by Patrick Johnson. If Miller is elected, the primary election won’t actually decided the final outcome, because Miller faces being thrown off the ballot for political practices violations. So does Art Wittich, and so do others.Screen shot 2014-06-03 at 6.05.58 AM
HD 92 David “Doc” Moore of Missoula vs. Larry Dunham Prediction: MooreScreen shot 2014-06-03 at 6.05.58 AM
HD 93 Rep. Dan Salomon of Ronan vs. challenger Frank Delgado. Frank Delgado is a responsible Main Street republican challenging GOPer Salomon from the left in a seat the dems will likely take back in November. Prediction: SalomonScreen shot 2014-06-03 at 6.05.58 AM
HD 99 Rep. Ed Greef of Stevensville faces pro-business, pro-economic development non-nutjob Russ Vogel.  Prediction: GreefScreen shot 2014-06-03 at 6.05.58 AM


SD 4 Former Kalispell Mayor Tammy Fisher vs. Rep.  Mark Blasdel of Kalispell. The race is hotly contested. Prediction:  Blasdel is an inferior pick and a right-winger and Fisher is a pro-business Republican, but the power of incumbency is strong. Blasdel has raised more money. This is an open seat.  However, Blasdel was an extreme right legislative leader in the house last session, and faces a primary from the more rational wing of the party. Would love to be wrong on this one.Screen shot 2014-06-03 at 6.05.58 AM
SD 9 Sen. Llew Jones/vs. TEA Party tax dodger Joe Large in Toole, Pondera and Glacier Counties. Prediction: JonesScreen shot 2014-06-03 at 6.05.58 AM
SD 14 Anti-education lobbyist Rep. Kris Hansen of Havre is now running for Senate against Carl Mattson of Chester.   Mattson is the superior candidate.  He doesn’t favor using your tax dollars to subsidize private sectarian schools.  Hansen has been paid to promote that terrible idea. Prediction:  HansenScreen shot 2014-06-03 at 6.05.58 AM
SD 20 Rep. Duane Ankney (east of Billings) vs. TEA Party booster clubber Barry Usher  of Colstrip Prediction: AnkneyScreen shot 2014-06-03 at 6.05.58 AM
SD 29 Right-winger birther Rep. Joanne Blyton of Red Lodge vs. Ultra nutjob and imbecile extraordinaire Rep. David Howard. Howard is a man who has, somewhat obsessively, devoted his Facebook page to criticizing gay sex. So of course, the GOP picked to lead the Children and Families legislative committee last session. Howard will face off against Red Lodge Republican Joanne Blyton. Blyton is a birther who actually voted for Birther Bob’s birther bill. (You can see a pdf of HB 205, the birther bill, vote here.) Yes, that’s the same bill that later made the Montana Legislature famous on CNN.   Prediction: Tossup.  This is also an open seat, but is included here because both Blyton and Howard served in the House.Screen shot 2014-06-03 at 6.05.58 AM
SD 34 Rep. Gordon Vance vs. Rep. Ted Washburn both of Bozeman. One of the most bloody GOP primary battles of the year.  Gordon Vance is the TEA Party nutjob who vote to conduct all state business in gold.  Vance and is trying to brutally attack paint Washburn as a liberal and RINO.  Problem is, Washburn is anything but. Washburn is 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.  Washburn also is the author of the famous bill to legalize hunting with silencers.  It made the venerated2011 Montana Nutjob Bills list first published at Cowgirl Blog, and Washburn brought back the bill in 2013.   Washburn has also called for what is essentially a poll tax, a bill that would allow only taxpayers to vote (poor people often don’t have a taxable income, nor, for that matter, do many farmers and ranchers).  And he has often been the lead sponsor of bills that would make it more difficult for people to register to vote, especially if those people are likely to be democrats. Prediction: TossupScreen shot 2014-06-03 at 6.05.58 AM
SD 43 Sen. Scott Boulanger of Darby (appointed, not elected)  vs. Rep. Pat Connell.Sen. Scott Boulanger R-Darby loves being pictured with the  infamous bullet-ridden Obama outhouse.  He’s running in a GOP primary against Rep. Pat Connell. Boulanger was one of ten Republicans who actually voted to take freedoms away from Montanans by keeping being gay an imprisonable offense in Montana.     Voters in the area have already picked Pat Connell over Boulanger once before, when Boulanger ran for house in 2012. Boulanger lost, and the only reason he’s in office now is because he was appointed by the Ravalli County Republican Central Committee after another legislator was elected to the Public Service Commission. Prediction: ConnellScreen shot 2014-06-03 at 6.05.58 AM
 SD 27  Another open seat where a right winger from the House faces a pro-business wing challenger.  TEA Partier Cary Smith of Billings faces former legislator and dentist Don Roberts.  Prediction: TossupScreen shot 2014-06-03 at 6.05.58 AM

MT Republican Legislator Wants More Guns in Schools

Rep. David Howard (R-Park City) believes that school shootings in America are caused by too few, rather than too many, guns in school. He wants to know why the sign on the right isn’t posted in front of ever school in America.

On his Facebook page, Howard explains his views on gun free schools:

This is like zebra’s declaring a section of the Serengeti to be a Lion free zone! They would go out and mark the boundaries, lie down and relax. The lions on the other hand, would be rejoicing and putting out signs that would say “Defenseless Stupid Zebra’s Ahead”.

The godless liberals are forcing America’s kids to be sitting ducks. Sad!

Rep. David Howard (R-TEA Park City)Howard is backing a piece of legislation, along with other Montana Republicans, that would allow students and teachers to bring side arms to school.  This is one of several measures that the GOP believes will make for a safer society.  The other is a bill to allow concealed weapons in bars, banks, schools and state government buildings.  These were vetoed by Schweitzer last session, and will likely be vetoed again.

What Howard and company cannot come to terms with is this basic fact: that in places like Sweden, Finland, Canada, Germany, England and many other strong democracies, there is plenty of hunting and gun ownership, but virtually no school shootings and in fact barely any gun violence at all.  And no, they don’t accomplish it by arming elementary school students.  They do it through common sense regulation.  No assault weapons, no gun show loopholes where you can pay cash for a gun without any record of the transaction.  No 100-round clips of ammo.

The fun part of the upcoming legislative session will be to observe the diminished power that Gary Marbut will wield.  Marbut runs an outfit called Montana Shooting Sports Association, a group he formed to compete with the NRA which he views as too liberal an organization.  He wants guns everywhere, and is the force behind bills like the ones that Howard is pushing.  But it’s crazy stuff that even Montanans, who are gun purists, don’t really go in for.

Rep. Howard is the Chair of the House Human Services Committee of the Montana Legislature.

Here’s a screenshot of Rep. Howard’s post:




UPDATED: Dems Make Small Gain in Legislature

As of the time of this posting, with vote counts still coming in, it looks like the make-up of the Montana senate may be 21 Democratic senators to 29 Republicans in the next legislative session.   Democrats and Republicans appear to have won an equal number of the seats up for grabs, but Rs maintained an advantage in holdover senators.

During the 2011 session, there were 28 Republicans and 22 Democrats.

In the House, it looks like Democrats may pick up seven five seats, making that chamber 40 38 Democratic seats to 60 62 Republicans instead of 32-68 like the 2011 session.  This will help Governor-elect Steve Bullock sustain his 2013 vetoes.  UPDATE: As of 8:30 pm Wed evening, Dems have gained seven MT house seats. The Billings Gazette has the story.

All of the results STILL aren’t in yet, so this could change and the Dems could pick up more seats.

Here are a couple of highlights.  I’m sure there more more, please add them in the comments.


  • Democrats Brad Hamlett and Greg Jergeson were successful in winning tough Senate races.
  • Democrat Ed Leiser is leading Tim Baldwin.
  • Tom Jacobson appears to have taken out TEA Partier Cleve Loney.
  • Reilly Neill (D) looks to have taken out Dan Skattum in an ATP targeted race.
  • And in Butte, Ryan Lynch took back Max Yate’s house seat for the Dems.
  • Newcomer Jenny Eck was successfull in keeping her Helena house seat blue.
  • Gary Marbut lost in Missoula.


  • Janna Taylor and Dee Brown will be back in the Senate.
  • Militia-linked Jennifer Fielder is in from Sanders County is now a state senator.
  • Nicholas Schwaderer defeated Christine Johnson for the Superior house seat that was much in the news.
  • Dog killer Roger Webb is leading Wanda Grinde in Billings for the Heights senate seat, but all the votes aren’t yet in.
  • Warburton and Hanson will be back in the house. Though given the recent Frontline expose, she might be subject to a range of penalties, including removal from office, fines, or worse.  The question is whether there is a prosecutor out there who is willing to begin looking into this stuff.
  • Liz Bangerter from Helena and Joanne Blyton from Red Lodge will be back as well.


Montana, Led by AG Bullock, is Sole State to Fight Corporate Election Influence

As Matt Singer at Left in the West wrote about yesterday, the Wall Street Journal is reporting that after the Supreme Court OK-ed corporate influence in elections, no other state but Montana had the backbone to stand up for our own laws against it.

And Montana’s Attorney General Steve Bullock, a rising star in the political scene both within the state and nationally, is leading the fight. As the Wall Street Journal reports:

Mr. Bullock says some of the Supreme Court’s reasons for overruling the federal campaign-finance law don’t apply to his state, arguing that its Corrupt Practices Act of 1912 remains constitutional.

Montana’s opponents are some of the most pernicious influences on state, regional, and national politics we’ve seen in recent years.   First, there is the militia affiliated Montana Shooting Sports Association:

Gary Marbut, president of the Montana Shooting Sports Association (MSSA), is a frequent contributor to the Militia of Montana’s e-mail list. In an April 2000 message to his e-mail list, he wrote “WTO, GATT, and NAFTA are all moves towards the New World Order and the coveted global government.”

He also contributes to the patriot Internet publication The Sierra Times. One of his columns was later carried in the Christian Identity tabloid The Jubilee. Christian Identity, based on a racist interpretation of the Bible, holds that Jews are the literal children of Satan, and people of color are subhuman “mud people.” Another Marbut column in The Sierra Times attacked the federal government for wanting its citizens to remain “Îstabable’, Îshootable’, Îbeatable’, Îrobable’, and, of course, Îrapeable.'” His dislike for the federal government also surfaced in 1994 when Marbut wanted Montana to secede from the union.

Also opposing Montana is the embattled Western Traditions Partnership, a groups with legal problems in Colorado and whose leadership appears to have acted illegally in Montana.  But that’s not all.  As Singer relates, the Billings Gazette is reporting that a Montana Commissioner of Political Practices investigator

has found evidence that Western Tradition Partnership intends to or has tried to solicit donations from officers of several foreign corporations or their affiliations, including some based in Canada, South Africa and the United Kingdom.

Hardly the “Western Tradition” they claim to espouse.  A third opponent of Montana’s case is a TEA Party leader worried about United Nations conspiracies.

He says he wants to spend his company’s money to oust city officials who joined an international organization of local governments seeking to meet sustainability goals backed by the United Nations.

This is a battle worth watching, and whatever the outcome of this particular fight, it is also worth watching the future of Montana’s Attorney General Steve Bullock.