Tag Archives: Judy Martz

Governor-wannabe bankrolls pro-hate, anti-Halloween crusade

As the GOP-dominated Montana Legislature narrowly defeated an Indiana-style bill to legalize discrimination, it has come to light that Bozeman billionaire Greg Gianforte has been bankrolling a crusade in favor of such laws.

The Alliance Defending Freedom, which was previously called the Alliance Defense Fund, has been the recipient of tens of thousands of dollars from the Gianforte Family Foundation – tax-exempt political arm of Gianforte’s dark money leviathan.  According to Right Wing Watch, the ADF is, “particularly persistent in attacking attempts by [LBGT citizens] to have families, establish domestic partnerships or civil unions, or to be protected from discrimination in employment or housing.”

Gianforte – a billionaire transplant from New Jersey– has personally bankrolled the legal efforts of a Colorado baker who got into hot water for refusing to serve a same-sex couple.  But it’s not just the LGBT community that Jack Phillips of Masterpiece Cakes in Lakewood, Colorado is crusading against.  He’s also believes Halloween is a among the problems facing our times. Gianforte is his patron.

From a document Gianforte sent to Bozeman City Commissioners promoting the effort he bankrolled:

In addition to being a baker, Jack is a committed Christian who believes that he should live consistently with what he believes to be true.  As a consequence, Jack seeks to operate his business in accordance with his faith, even when it costs him.

For instance, he will not bake any Halloween-themed goods, event though Halloween typically provides bakeries increased revenue-making opportunities, because he believes that Christians should not promote Halloween.

Halloween – costumes, pumpkins and trick-or-treating – has long been a big celebration at the Montana Governor’s Residence, with every Governor in recent memory getting into the spirit.  Steve Bullock and his family dressed as characters from Peter Pan, Brian and Nancy Schweitzer were Uncle Sam and Lady Liberty in 2012, even Judy Martz had some fun, dressing as “Tigger.” These bipartisan festivities have featured full-size candy bars and thousands of trick-or-treaters.

In order to rid the world of this demonic holiday, is Greg Gianforte one of those guys who pass out religious pamphlets on Halloween?  Or does he simply turn the lights off and pretend he’s not home?  Either way, it looks like no candy – not even Smartees or “fun sized” bars.


News About Federal Races

 The news this week is that Corey Stapleton is jumping ship to the US House race after receiving word from Steve Daines, or a Daines team member, that Daines will be running for Senate.  Stapleton had declared his status as a Senate candidate earlier in the year.

Stapleton has raised an impressive amount of money so far, $230,000, but has squandered most of it.  The newspaper today reports that he only has $80,000 left, which he will transfer to his new campaign.  What he’s spent $150,000 on is anybody’s guess.

The better news is that there might be as many as a dozen GOP candidates in the primary for House, clawing at each other, accusing each other of of not being “conservative enough,” and generally tearing each other down to the point that none will have any money or credibility by the time one of them is nominated in June of 2014.  Such a scenario will reflect what happened to Rick Hill in 2012, who was left limp and broke after emerging from a bruising primary in which, ironically enough, Stapleton opened fire at him with negative campaign ads.

Stapleton his now citing his work with the Martz administration, in canceling a computer project, as an event in his professional life that qualifies him to be congressman.  Not exactly a big-picture type of theme for a candidacy.  His Wikipedia pages have also been interesting. 

But Stapleton will be strong in Billings, having run many campaigns there.  Sonju and Zinke and Scott Reichner will fight for the Flathead Valley vote, Champ Edmunds will fight for wherever he is from (near Area 51, perhaps), if anybody there even knows who he is or that he even exists.  Brad Johnson, who ran his last race for statewide office while housed in an alcohol rehab facility, says he, too, might be running for the house.

Jon Lewis, Max Baucus’s chief aide, is now the only candidate on the Dem side, and we will see whether his Max Baucus pedigree brings him money.

Stapleton, by the way, said  that he wants to be in Congress to stop Obamacare, prevent the raising of the debt ceiling, and effectuate other such obstructionism.  And, he said that he would like to be a congressman, especially on the Syria issue, because he would have access to the intelligence briefings from the Pentagon.  God help us all.

No word yet about John Walsh or John Bohlinger, and their plans to run for the U.S. Senate against the presumptive candidate Daines.


Meeting of the Minds

In a little over a month, legislators from across Montana will descend on Helena to make the laws you must live by.  Let’s meet them.

1-Rep. David Howard (R-TEA Park City), Chair of the House Human Services Committee. Rep. Howard is on the record saying he believes a Civil War is imminent 

2-A FRONTLINE documentary reported that documents found in a meth house indicate potentially illegal collusion between a secretive right-wing group and Republican candidates. Files on Dan Kennedy, Wendy Warburton, Mike Miller, Ed Butcher, Bob Wagner, Joel Boniek, Jerry O’Neil and Derek Skees were found so far.

3-Rep. Roger Webb (R-Billings). This recently elected GOP-er was convicted of shooting his neighbors dogs to death. It was reported in MT’s largest newspaper.

4-We now have a legislator with ties to the militia movement. Yes, Sen. Jennifer Fielder (R-TEA Sanders County) was elected and will serve on the Senate Judiciary Committee.

5-Then there is the GOP legislator who when called by the press about a former UM student who accused him of sexual assault, handed the phone to his mom. Rep. Nicolas Schwaderer  (R-Missoula Mineral) denies the allegations.  He has also threatened a defamation suit against anybody making “slanderous statements” against him. It is not known at this time whether mom will be coming to Helena with Rep. Schwaderer.

 6-Rep. Jerry O’Neil (R-TEA Columbia Falls) demanded to be paid for his legislative acts in gold and silver. O’Neil has been ridiculed for his request in the national press.  But recall that last session, half of the House of Representatives voted for Wagner’s bill to require the state of Montana to conduct all business in gold and silver. This includes current GOP Speaker of the House Mark Blasdel and Republican House Majority Leader Gordon Vance and many, many others who are back this session.

7-And let’s not forget Rep. Wendy Warburton and Rep. Kris Hansen (both of Havre) who co-hosted an event with former Gov. Judy Martz to tell Montanans that the War on Women is made up.   Warburton has an explanation for the lack of GOP women candidates. She said a couple of years back, that “the biggest reason that more women who are Republicans don’t get into politics is because we are the pro-family party.” Yes ladies, GOP women are home raising kids like the women of the pro-family party should be.

8-After I first blogged it here, the Chair of the MT House Judiciary Committee TEA Party Republican Krayton Kerns (R-TEA Laurel) was featured in a popular Huffington Post story for his blog post claiming that moving some bison will “topple the Republic” and lead to $25/gallon gas prices.  This month, Kerns’ concern is the “imminent collapse of society.

9-The newest member of the MT House Education committee will be an interesting addition.  Republican Rep. Sarah Laszloffy, age 19, is an alum of the Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry, where students of all ages come to learn how to live  ”a supernatural lifestyle.” (And you thought Republicans opposed alternative lifestyles.  Not true!)

According to the school’s website, Rep. Laszloffy and her fellow students learned how to “live the Bible,” —including useful skills such as “how to cast out demons” and other practical solutions to life’s most pressing problems. Bethel’s members also  purport to have the ability to heal people through prayer and bring the dead back to life.

Perhaps the ability to bring people back from the dead will be useful.  Former legislator turned Public Service Commissioner Roger Koopman threatened that if his fellow GOP legislators didn’t stop criticizing him, “Republican blood will flow in the streets.”

10-The outgoing GOP House Majority Leader, Tom McGillvray (R-TEA Billings). McGillvary tweeted (from his official Twitter account) that President Obama must release his college records so as to prove that he was not a “foreign exchange student” while he studied at Columbia and Harvard. McGillvray is termed out and his term will end this month.


Rick Hill Measuring Drapes?

From whispers I’ve heard, it sounds likely that Rick Hill has already enlisted Scott Mendenhall to run his transition operation, in the event Hill wins the election.

Mendenhall is a right-winger from Clancy, and served several terms in the legislature before being termed out a few years ago.  If the rumor is true, then Hill has chosen, as his chief advisor to begin a potential Hill administration, a man who believes that a woman who is raped and impregnated should be required by law to give birth to the rapist’s child.

And Hill shares this belief, by the way, even if the anti-choice Helena IR hasn’t given it much coverage (and don’t hold your breath).  So it shouldn’t surprise anyone that he would enlist an anti-abortion zealot to begin assembling a gubernatorial administration, moot though that assignment may be.

Mendenhall has long been the darling of the religious right and is a fiery speaker at anti-choice events.  He says that conservative Christians must fight against “the extreme liberal left,” which he claims seeks to “undermine traditional family values.”  He also claims that women’s constitutional right to medical privacy is a “direct violation” of why America was founded. Mendenhall was an early endorser of the constitutional amendment banning gay marriage in Montana.

Mendenhall and his wife own an ultrasound business in Helena and Butte.  During the last session, Mendenhall sent his wife to testify in favor of a bill which would force women to undergo vaginal probe ultrasounds before they were allowed to terminate the pregnancy.

The last time, by the way, that Rick Hill was involved in a transition was in 2001, when he led Judy Martz’s transition policy team for economic development.

Rick Hill’s Woman Problem

Rick Hill's record is anything but charmingWhile Judy Martz crisscrosses the state saying assuring voters that “there is no war on women,”  Rick Hill’s record and positions prove otherwise.

He has, shall we say, a Woman Problem.  No, I’m not talking about Hill’s affair with a cocktail waitress.   Hill has a problem with women voters because of his backward beliefs and miltant anti-woman voting record.  And if he becomes governor, there will absolutely be a war waged against women from the second floor of the State Capitol Building.

One wonders if Hill, had he knocked up his waitress, would have asked her to have the baby.

When the rest of the GOP was throwing Todd Akin off the boat (because of his nutty views about rape victims), Hill backed Akin up.  Hill is an absolutist on abortion.  No abortion,  in any circumstance including rape and incest, reported the top Montana women’s advocacy group this week.

When he’s in office, therefore, Hill will do what all Republicans do on abortion.  They can’t make abortion illegal outright, so they do it by death by a thousand cuts.  Limit funding for poor women who can’t afford to feed the children they already have; pass laws requiring ultra sounds and vaginal probes; allow sham clinics, run by religious zealots rather than doctors, to fraudulently operate in a way that draws unsuspecting women in, leaving them confused and misinformed.  Forbid any state institution from performing abortions. Publicly support anti-Roe ballot initiatives. With a solidly GOP legislature, a Governor Rick Hill would be an anti-choicer’s dreamboat.  And yet on this crucial issue, such a Governor would maintain a position that 90% of Montana voters oppose.

Hill has a problem.The new report by NARAL Pro-Choice Montana also shows that during his short time in the House, Congressman Hill cast 50 votes to restrict women’s reproductive rights.  And, when the right-wing Montana Family Foundation released its voter guide recently, only two candidates in the entire state of Montana even bothered to fill out the survey.   Hill was one of them (the other is Liz Bangerter– more on that later).

When asked whether he was opposed to abortion in all circumstances (e.g. even when a woman has been raped.) Hill refused to answer.  He also refused to answer the question about whether abortion should be prohibited except in cases of rape, incest, or to save the life of the mother.  If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s this: beware when GOP candidates don’t respond to questions during campaigns.  They will screw you once they are elected.   Here is the screenshot of the questions and here are Hill’s answers.

Hill is even on the record opposing no-fault divorce–a law all 50 states have passed. Hill would have us return to centuries past, when couples were required to assign blame or fault before they could end a marriage.  The situation was especially horrendous for victims of domestic violence trapped in abusive marriages  who were left no way out without the consent of the abuser.  Hill touts his opposition to no-fault divorce in this campaign fundraising letter (PDF).

For those that are interested, here’s a screenshot of Liz Bangerter’s answers to the Montana Family Foundation questionnaire.  Here are the questions.


Pro-Ignorance Views Spell Trouble for Hill, GOP

Rick Hill’s pro-ignorance positions and votes on education spell trouble not just for his own chances but for other Republicans.  The problem hasn’t gone unnoticed by GOP supporters.

When the GOP candidate for Superintendent of Public Instruction shared her stump speech on Facebook (pictured), a commenter immediately expressed concern that Hill’s views on education were so backward they would not only tank his own election but could harm the GOP’s other candidates as well.

One look at Hill’s record makes it clear why Hill’s views are a liability.   In Congress, Hill backed abolishing the Department of Education altogether.  Hill’s position was later taken up by renowned intellect Rick Perry, to the delight of Saturday Night Live fans across the U.S.:

The third agency of government I would do away with — the Education, the Commerce. And let’s see. I can’t. The third one, I can’t. Oops.

Hill opposed making college more affordable.  He voted in Congress to support drastic cuts in education funding. [ Roll Call 210. June 5, 1998. Roll Call 273. June 14, 2000.]

In his campaign for Governor, Hill’s launched what can only be described as a war on teachers. He’s on the record in support of letting teachers be fired without cause and “deregulatingeducation–eliminating the accountability and the standards that make sure kids get safe, quality public school classrooms.

He even supports using your tax dollars on subsidies for the wealthy and fundamentalists who send their kids to private and religious schools.  Our tax dollars shouldn’t go to schools that aren’t required to abide by state standards for quality.  Nor should public funds be used on schools that discriminate in which students they accept or teach religious and right-wing political doctrine as if it were scientific fact.  With public dollars flowing away from public schools and into this nonsense, the kids of many hardworking Montanans would be left behind in underfunded schools.  The rich would enjoy spending their subsidies on Hawaiian vacations, and the right-wingers could be sure their kids were being taught how to bring dead people back to life.

To be sure, the GOP’s own candidate for Superintendent of Public Instruction doesn’t seem to be coming up with compelling reasons to vote for her.  She was caught on video at the GOP convention admitting that students in MT are doing well under Democratic Superintendent of Public Instruction Denise Juneau and Democratic Governor Brian Schweitzer. In the very speech I mentioned above,  Sandy Welch, the GOP’s candidate for OPI, even supports continuing Supt. Juneau’s work on the popular Graduation Matters Montana initiative.  She also expressed support for Juneau’s Montana Digital Academy, which allows students to take additional or advance placement classes online and remotely via live video.

Here’s a clip of the speech:


After being forced to admit that things are going well under Juneau’s watch, it seems the only thing Welch has to add is a defense of the Montana Republican Party’s lack of women candidates.  Sandy Welch insisted the MT GOP has nothing to be ashamed of because…wait for it…Jeanette Rankin and Judy Martz were Republicans.  Never mind the fact that the GOP was so different back then that Rankin’s views would make her a Democrat today.  Or that Judy Martz, who had no college degree herself, poo-pooed education and became the most unpopular Governor in Montana history.  As Welch invoked the sacred name of Judy Martz, loud cheers erupted from the crowd of GOP faithful.

To build a stronger economy and attract more good-paying jobs in Montana, we need to make sure all of our children have the education and skills to compete.  By this standard, neither Hill nor Welch make the cut.  

Report: Rick Hill Used Wife’s Influence to Get Plum State Contracts

Dirty Betti

The Associated Press is reporting that Rick Hill not only made a king’s ransom renting office space to the Montana state government in the 1990s and 2000s, but that his wife Betti used her job in Governor Judy Martz’s office to steer business his way.  Thus did Rick and Betti Hill become very wealthy people.

E-mails from Betti Hill, obtained by the AP, show that she was using the influence of the Governor’s office to arrange meetings for Rick with high-level players in state government who dole out state rental contracts.  It stinks to high heaven.

Betti and Rick put pressure on the Martz administration to kill a plan to construct a new building. Martz put the new building project in her budget.  But shortly after Rick and Betti met with Lt. Governor Karl Ohs and several cabinet officials to complain about it, it got yanked from Martz’s budget.   Why did Rick and Betti want to kill the project? Because a new building in Helena would have brought down the price of rent in the Helena market, and landlords, naturally, do not like that.  Oops.

By the sound of it, Betti Hill was large and in charge, busting out her Helena GOP street cred, ordering people throughout state government (even the Lt. Governor) not to do anything that might compromise Rick’s business, and even going to bat for other landlords, including a “party leader” who owned a building and needed a favor.   As a result, the Hills’ business stayed sweet and they kept raking in taxpayer dough, more than a million bucks worth.

Hill also appears to have used his job as Congressman and his perch as State Fund chair to get similar sweet treatment, since these jobs overlapped with his sweetheart deals.  While sitting in these posts, ranting the GOP’s favorite rant about “less spending” and “less government,” he was guzzling down taxpayer money that should have saved rather than spent.  Montana taxpayers got bilked because the rent was too damn high.

Betti’s conduct might well be a violation of the ethics law, which says that a state worker may not use state facilities for a personal or business interest.

At any rate, the Hills are clearly no model of fiscal restraint.  Betti clearly interpreted her job in Martz’s office as nothing more than a nice opportunity to rake in some serious scratch for her and her hubby, so that they could fly first class to their posh Palm Springs crib.

These e-mails vindicate Corey Stapleton, Hill’s GOP primary opponent, who accused Hill of getting cake deals and special treatment from state government for his mega-landlord business.

But will any of this affect the outcome of Tuesday’s GOP primary?  I doubt it. Sure, it is in the newspaper, but most right-wing voters do not read the newspaper. Glenn Beck is unlikely to cover this story.

Stapleton and Miller and Livingstone should have done their homework, hit the pavement, and moved this damaging story a month ago.  It might have been a game changer.  But they were all either too lazy or too stupid (or both, probably) to bother.  Coming out on the Friday before the election, this story will have very little effect on Tuesday’s election.

However, these revelations will be center stage during the long general election battle ahead.  Rick Hill is now CORRUPT LANDLORD, INSURANCE EXECUTIVE, CONGRESSMAN, LOBBYIST (and let’s not forget ADULTERER).  Geez, if that isn’t a resume for success in politics, I don’t know what is.  These are just about the five worst things an American political candidate can possibly be.  Plus, Dems will be able to run TV ads against Hill that will simply repeat the accusations made against Hill by all of his GOP opponents.   That’s a rare opportunity in a general election, and it’s a very effective play.

Dave Lewis throws Martz, Hill and Himself Under the Bus

In recent times we’ve seen Republicans fall into a circular firing squad.

When Schweitzer was meeting with the Republican leaders last session, they told him that Rick Hill had made a mess of the Work Comp system when he was in charge of it during the 1990s.  Threw him under the bus.  Neil Livingstone made the same point about Hill a few weeks ago, and Ken Miller has taken on Hill for having spent most of the last twenty years in Palm Desert, California, rather than Montana.  And of course Corey Stapleton’s campaign has already chimed in with the insinuation that Hill has “too many Skeletons in the closet” to become Governor.

Yesterday it continued. State Senator Dave Lewis, a regular Cowgirl blog commenter, admitted that Montana’s current Pension woes, which Schweitzer is now trying to fix, are due largely to his own bill, HB 294, which he carried in 2001 on behalf of Judy Martz and her chief economic policy guru, Rick Hill.  This bill, ordered by the Martz administration as a supposed long-term solution to avoiding an insolvent state pension fund, gave automatic increases (3% a year), to state workers. It assumed that the stock market would go up forever.

Lewis gave an interview in which he said that “in forty years of government, HB 294 was the worst mistake I ever made.”  Some kudos to Dave Lewis for his honesty; this type of confession is rarely heard in politics.

The more important point is that Lewis’s statement closes the book on a very substantial inquiry as to the ineptitude of the Judy Martz administration.  We now have a confession entered into the record, conclusive proof that the Republican administrations of the last 20 years fucked things up, and Schweitzer has had to spend seven years trying to repair the damage.


The Man Behind Judy Martz’s Economic Plan? Guess Who

Today the Helena IR reminded us of an almost forgotten fact: that the architect of Judy Martz’s economic policy was none other than Rick Hill, who is now the odds-on-favorite to be the next Republican nominee for Governor.

Hill was picked by Martz to lead her economic transition team, and also to prepare an economic blueprint for her administration.  The Martz economic plan consisted of several interesting features.  For one thing, she proposed a sales tax, which is indeed something that Rick Hill has long advocated.  She also ran out of money halfway through her term, and had to call a special session because the state was broke.  (And in addition to being broke, she herself broke into tears when she called the press to announce the special session, one of many bizarre Martz spectacles for those who were lucky enough to witness it.

Why was she crying?  The state was not only broke (Montanans were reading in the news that the Capitol could no longer afford to pay its water bill), but Montana was rated by USA Today as the one of the most reckless state governments in terms of spending (48th out of 50, on the 2003 list of fiscally responsible state governments, ranked from best to worst).  Also at that time, the Work Comp system was quickly spiraling  out of control in terms of the cost of premiums that businesses were being forced to cough up. This, too, grew from under the auspices of Hill who was not only Martz’s chief economic architect but also built that Work Comp system in the Racicot/Martz administration.

Today, having been under Democratic control for some time, Montana is rated among the best fiscally managed states in America, with a record surplus.  So we may postulate that Montanans, if given a choice between the Martz-Hill way of doing things and Schweitzer-Bullock, will likely opt for the latter.

And will Rick Hill try to run on his accomplishments as Martz’s economic guru?  Or will he run for the hills?

Political Quick Hits

Not Helpful

The Mitt Romney campaign isn’t saying how it feels about being endorsed by the least popular Governor in Montana history. Republican Judy Martz basically said it was okay to let your husband beat you and had an approval rating under 20 percent.

I can’t name one person who would say, “I’m a Judy Martz Republican.”     Here’s what Martz had to say about Romney in the Flathead Beacon:

“Governor Romney, as a former chief executive, has the experience, vision and values to lead our country,” Martz said. “His proven record of turning around companies and the state of Massachusetts, not to mention his success with the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, demonstrates that he has the strong leadership abilities to turn around our country. He is the one Republican candidate that can bring the conservative principles of lower taxes, restrained spending and smaller government to Washington.”


Political Podcast

Kevin Hamm is putting out a new political podcast, which could be Montana’s first.  If you’re not listening to PoliticktickBOOM, do it now.  Hamm says “it’s not about him,” and he’s had some great guests. But the best part of the podcasts is–hands down–Hamm’s own commentary and hilarious descriptions of political personalities and events.  He’s also got great tips on how to use (and how not to use) technology in campaigns.   I’m a fan, and I’m very excited to see how these evolve.