Tagged: Ted Washburn

Posted: February 3, 2014 at 10:54 pm

The Montana GOP Hypocrite of the Week Award Goes to….

Matthew Monforton—GOP legislative candidate Matthew Monforton.  Since Monforton wrote a letter to the editor in the Bozeman Chronicle this week denigrating the elected body he himself is seeking to join as a “parliament of whores,” he is clearly is this week’s winner.

If the GOP-TEA controlled legislature is full of  people he calls “whores,” why does Monforton want to be part of it?

Monforton waxes apoplectic against the “whores” elected by the Montana Republican Party in this letter, yet has he accepted the Republican Party’s cash Continue reading

Posted: January 12, 2014 at 1:43 pm

Major Tea Party Rumble scheduled in Bozeman

Hunting with Silencers v. General Nutjob

A wild GOP primary will soon be underway in Bozeman, where two Tea Party hotheads are going to tangle for a state house seat in a very conservative district.  This will be a heavyweight bout.

The challenger is Matthew Monforton, who lost his job as a city judge.  Monforton made waves for a public remark that the prophet Mohammed was “a seventh-century pedophile.”  Monforton later defended Rick Hill in court, when Hill was on the ropes for having accepted an illegal contribution of $500,000.  He also represented Harris Himes, the Montana pastor who said gays should be given the death penalty (and who got busted for defrauding a member of his congregation, and is now in the pokey.)  All of which means that Monforton would fit in perfectly as a Republican legislator.

Washburn, meanwhile, 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 venerated 2011 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.

The race has already turned nasty, in a very comic way.  Monforton this week filed a lawsuit in federal court, with the help of the prominent conservative attorney James Bopp, of Citizens United fame.  The suit asks the court to please strike down a Montana statute which requires that candidates cite bill numbers when running ads that criticize their opponents for votes they’ve taken.  The brief argues that Monforton expects to be irreparably harmed by the statute.   Why? Here is an excerpt from the brief:

Candidate Monforton intends to mail letters to voters in House District 69, which encompasses the northern part of Gallatin County. These letters will contrast Candidate Monforton’s steadfast opposition to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, commonly referred to as “Obamacare,” and Rep. Washburn’s votes in the House in support of Obamacare.

Candidate Monforton has also rented a billboard facing westbound traffic on I-90 just west of Belgrade to convey the same message as the letters. His billboard advertisement will be posted beginning on February 26, 2014. Rep. Washburn opposed Obamacare in the 2011 session of the Legislature by voting against establishing a state-based exchange but later cast several votes in favor of Obamacare in the 2013 session…

Disclosing all of Rep. Washburn’s flip-flops would require Candidate Monforton to include in his letter at least one or two extra pages explaining each of Rep. Washburn’s conflicting votes, thereby distracting voters from other messages Candidate Monforton intends to include in his letters and forcing Candidate Monforton to spend more money on producing and mailing the letter than he otherwise would.

It goes on and on like this for 18 pages.   In other words,  Monforton is suing to invalidate a state law, and his brief in court is devoted mostly to talking about how this law is making it so terribly (and unconstitutionally) difficult for him to discuss how his opponent voted for Obamacare.  How, the brief asks the court, is Monforton going to have enough space on his mailers and billboards to list all of the terrible Obamacare votes that his GOP opponent took?  Hah! I encourage you to read the whole thing.  It’s a total scream.

As for the bills that Monforton claims Washburn flip-flopped on, one the republican “alternative” to the Medicaid Expansion bills, a bill that probably violated federal law designed to help the GOP quash the expansion altogether–another was a bill brought by the insurance industry to require state training for the “navigators” who help people pick an insurance plan–the bill was designed in part to keep the job of helping people buy insurance largely with insurance agents, who have experience and knowledge with Montana law. It is not a bill to support Obamacare, it is a bill to mitigate its effects.

Washburn also took procedural committee votes, floor votes and votes on amendments, which Monforton is arguing are flip flops because sometimes Washburn’s votes were pro, sometimes anti, depending on the GOP strategery at the time.  Expect Monforton’s theory to be duplicated in other primaries throughout the state.

Monforton has a problem of his own, which Washburn is no doubt planning to discuss.  He spent most of his adult life in Los Angeles, a place that Bozeman GOP voters believe to be Hell itself.   And he left under nebulous circumstances after supposedly filing a whistleblower report against his boss at the LA district attorney’s office.

Posted: February 17, 2013 at 10:34 pm

Reforming Gun Laws, Montana Republican Style

by Cowgirl

It might surprise you to hear this, but right-wing Republicans actually agree with President Obama that America needs a radical change in our gun laws.  It’s just that they have a different idea of what those changes should be.

In the Montana Legislature this month, in the wake of the Newtown tragedy and a scourge of national gun violence, Montana Republicans have moved quickly to introduce a series of bills to deal with what they believe is society’s most pressing gun problem: it’s not easy enough to shoot someone.

There are dozens of proposals, each one stupider and sillier and more childish than the next. Here are few of my favorites:

First is a bill to change our concealed weapons laws. In Montana, concealed weapons may not be carried in churches, schools, banks, bars, colleges, hospitals and a few other specified areas.  Republicans have proposed a bill to eliminate these restrictions completely.

The author of the bill, House Bill 304, is none other than the state chair of the House Judiciary Committee.  A police officer showed up to a hearing to testify against it, saying he’d “never seen a bar fight that ended well with a concealed weapon.” The Republicans were unfazed by this testimony and are moving forward with the legislation. There’s also a companion bill, House Bill 384, that specifically addresses the injustice suffered by high school students who are denied the right to bring rifles and shotguns onto school grounds. The bill would forbid school officials from punishing such students.

Keep in mind that these are the same lawmakers who proposed Senate Bill 279 which was a bill to allow legislators to carry guns–both concealed and open–in the state capitol building last session.  Apparently they think that this will make the capitol a safer place.  I’m sure the many government employees who work in the Capitol will feel secure in knowing that a few crusty old Republican men–who start drinking at 10 am and spend the rest of the day snoozing at hearings or ogling high school pages–will serve as a security force in the event the building is attacked.

And if you think Republicans do not believe in guaranteed access to healthcare, think again.  A few GOP legislators have just introduced House Bill 459, a bill to guarantee the provision of medical care–to anyone who is armed.  The bill makes it a felony to deny someone health care if the denial is based in any way on the fact that the person is in possession of a weapon, and refuses to answer the doctor’s question about said possession.  Said another way, this bill ensures that you can bring a weapon to your doctors office, and the doctor may not ask you to leave the premises if you refuse to answer the doctor when you are asked “is that bulge under you clothing a concealed weapon?” It also forbids pediatricians from asking other questions about guns that they routinely ask, about whether the parent owns weapons and, if so, whether the parent is safely storing them in the house, out of reach of the child.

These legislators should themselves seek out a pediatrician, because they are overgrown children who somehow became legislators.

There are many more such bills, including:

HB 302 by Rep. Krayton Kerns would prohibit state enforcement of any federal ban on semi-auto firearms/magazines

 HB 215 by Rep. Edward Greef declares the Winchester rifle “The gun that won the west.”

HJ 5 by Rep. Jerry O’Neil amends the U.S. Constitution to prevent President from entering into any arms treaties that infringe on gun rights.

LC1639 by Rep. Scott Reichner would prevent local governments from restricting firearms.

HB 27 by Rep. Ted Washburn would allow the use of silencers when hunting “large predators,” while

HB 205 by Krayton Kerns would eliminate the prohibition on firearm sound reduction devices in the field altogether.

HB 240 by Rep. Cary Smith seeks to allow guns on college campuses.

HB 468 by Rep. Alan Doane would encourage manufacture of ammunition in Montana to ensure availability.

HJ 3 by Rep. Jerry O’Neil calls for an amendment to the US Constitution which “gives the states the right to make whatever guns they want so long as [firearms] stay inside the[sic] own borders.”

SB 304 by Rep. Roger Webb would establish a “firearm protection act.”

HB 292 by Rep. Randy Brodehl would revise laws related to pawn shop stolen gun procedures

 

Posted: January 17, 2013 at 6:56 pm

Legislative Roundup

Roger Koopman Should Not Be In Charge of Taxi Cabs

Rep. Ellie Hill of Missoula has proposed deregulation–not of energy, but of taxicabs.  Little did anyone know that the Public Service Commission is the branch of government that regulates taxis in Montana.  That is ludicrous.  If you’ve ever tried to get a cab in Missoula, you will know that Ms. Hill is on the right track here.  There is a government-granted monopoly in the city, and that needs to change.  Hill is trying to move authority over cab regulation from the PSC to the Montana Legislature.  After all, can anybody, Republican or Democrat, say that it’s a good thing that Roger Koopman is in charge of taxis?  The bill is LC1416.

 

GOP Voter Suppression Bill

The Repubs have wasted no time in trying to revive their bread-and-butter, old faithful favorite piece of legislation.  Representative Ted Washburn of Bozeman has introduced a bill (HB 30) to do away with election day registration. If Washburn were from Billings, he’d not be sponsoring this bill.  Voters waited on line several hours to vote in Billings in 2012, and if there had been no voting-day registration option, many would have been turned away after the long wait, even though they were lawfully qualified to vote.

Thankfully, Schweitzer vetoed the bill in 2011 and Bullock will almost certainly do so as well.  Funny enough, the GOP does not believe this type of shenanigans has any political repercussions, that you can brazenly make a legislative move to take away voters’ rights and voters won’t notice. But I think they do notice, and Democrats will remind them in 2014.  In fact, in 2014, Democratic volunteers should be walking the line of voters, explaining to the people waiting on the infernal line that the reason they have to wait so long, and waste half a day, is that the GOP likes it that way.

Although it’s not in the bill, Washburn told the committee he believes voting should be restricted to “driver’s license, the person that pays taxes in Montana, the person that actually resides here in Montana,” Chuck Johnson reported.  Meaning if he had his way, many seniors, students, the disabled, and the very poor would not get to vote.

 

The Ruling Class

Washburn wants to restrict voting to taxpaying residents, but another GOP legislator wants to expand voting to non-residents–non-resident property owners, that is.  Rep. Terry Murphy’s bill (SB 130) would let non-residents vote in municipal elections, including mill-levies, bonds, and candidates.

The Flathead County Commission tried a similar scheme in 2011 to decide who will control zoning in the outskirts of the city of Whitefish – the city, or the county with an “official survey.”  They sent surveys to all those who owned property in the area–some of whom didn’t actually reside in the area at all. Some people got multiple votes depending on how many properties they owned. If you resided in the area, but didn’t make enough to own property, well, you weren’t allowed to voice your opinion.  According to a citizens group who analyzed the survey results, “less than half, 47%, of the survey cards mailed out went to people who actually live in the two-mile area around Whitefish, while another 53% went to people who don’t even live in Whitefish.”

 

“Immigration Sanctuaries”

Speaking of stupid bills, the GOP has also revived the “immigration sanctuary bill” from 2011.  An immigration sanctuary, as best I can tell, is a state of affairs in which a local government refuses to order its policemen to go hunt for dark-skinned people and ask to see their passports.   This bill was vetoed last session and will be no doubt vetoed again as is it is utterly ridiculous.  HB 50 is sponsored by David Howard (R-Park City).

 

Many Novice Legislators

Chuck Johnson has an interesting piece about a tough fact: lots of newbies in the Montana Legislature.  Term limits have created a rookie majority, and several observations made in the Johnson piece are worthy of discussion and perhaps demand a re-examination of term limits.  A few of the points struck me as intriguing: that the legislative branch of government is weakened by a lack of institutional knowledge that once resided in veteran legislators; that the executive has been strengthened, because legislators must rely on executive-branch bureaucrats for policy expertise; and that reliance on lobbyists for legislative expertise has become excessive.   One wonders, looking back, whether Schweitzer’s successful bullying of the legislature was made easier by a weakening of the House and Senate by term limits, which eliminate veterans.

 

Reduce Size of House and Senate

Republican Jason Priest of Red Lodge has put in a bill to shrink the Montana legislature to 40 and 80 members, Senate and House respectively.   I don’t know what to make of this, although one can assume that if a right-wing Republican is introducing such a measure, it probably disadvantages Democrats in some way.  But here’s another idea:  How about a unicameral legislature, like Nebraska?  Actually, Nebraska has no party affiliation for members.   How’s that sound? 100 legislators, one house, all independents by law.

 

Posted: November 27, 2012 at 9:57 pm

GOP Legislator Junkets Exposed

Today, new evidence of the extent to which Montana’s legislature has been corrupted by out-of-state corporate interests has come to light.  Citizen advocates have released documents showing that several Montana legislators received all-expense paid junkets where they were wined and dined by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).  The latest ALEC extravaganza kicks off tomorrow in Washington D.C.

As Cowgirl readers know, ALEC is the bane of workaday Montanans’ existence. It’s corporate America’s mainline to corrupting the lawmaking process.  At lavish, closed-door “summits” they write “model bills” and instruct GOP state legislators to force them through back home.

ALEC won’t say which Montana lawmakers are showing up for tomorrow’s posh retreat. However, documents released today reveal some of the state lawmakers who were in on these junkets from 2006-2008.

This influence-buying scheme is illegal in some states, and should be in Montana. Probably some smart democratic legislator is already coming up with a bill to this effect.

The list of the Montana junkateers who are still in office includes:

Elsie Arntzen R-Billings
David Howard R-Park City
Lee Randall R-Broadus
Llew Jones  R-Conrad
Cary Smith R-Billings
Wendy Warburton R-Havre
Scott Sales R-Gallatin County
Jesse O’Hara R-Great Falls
Tom McGillvray R-Billings
Roger Koopman (now on the PSC)
Verdell Jackson  R-Kalispell
Jeff Essmann  R-Billings
Debby Barrett R-Dillon
Rick Ripley R-Wolf Creek
Bob Lake R-Hamilton
Krayton Kerns R-Laurel

Besides those listed above there are many other legislators who are members of ALEC.  Some have already been busted directly introducing ALEC bills, including: Mark Blasdel, Jason Priest, Ted Washburn, Scott Reichner, Pat Connell, Tom Berry, Jeff Welborn, and Jon Sonju.

What kind of laws is ALEC pushing this year?  Lots.  One way to find out if a bill is ALEC boilerplate is to compare it to the lists of the latest model legislation from the various corporations which can be found here.  Examples of new model ALEC bills include:

  • a law to require Attorneys General to do the legislature’s bidding,
  • requirement that all public employees must personally pay the costs of producing public documents unless the printed item does not display the publication’s printing cost,
  • a resolution for a constitutional convention to eliminate consumer protections,
  • repeal of voting access laws,
  • and ironically, a bill to create a new government commission to identify ways to cut to state government–at taxpayer expense,

and dozens more.  Some of the bills are designed to enhance corporate profits by stripping consumer protections from the laws, while others are “message” bills designed to enhance GOP chances in upcoming elections by forcing democrats to vote on controversial, if impractical, bills.

 

Posted: November 25, 2012 at 1:43 pm

I Guess the GOP Just Doesn’t Like Some People

When it comes to what the GOP really thinks about young people, minorities, and poorer Montanans, actions speak louder than words.

Montana Republicans are already working on several bills to make it more difficult for Montana citizens to exercise our voting rights–and it is these Montanans who are particularly impacted.

Rep. Ted Washburn (R-Gallatin County)  has introduced the first bill to repeal election-day registration in Montana. GOP-ers seem to think that it is election day–or “same day”–registration (rather than bad ideas) which harms their chances of winning.  But the facts show otherwise.

As Salon reports, studies have found that election day registration actually provides no partisan benefit.  What same day registration does do is help more people vote–particularly young voters, poorer Americans, minorities and people who have recently moved.  Studies have found that election day registration boosts turnout by 7 to 14 percentage points.

Posted: October 17, 2012 at 6:58 am

The Foul 57

Republican candidates across the county have tried to distance themselves from Rep. Todd Akin, R-Mo., who believes that rape victims should be forced to give birth and said that victims of “legitimate rape” rarely get pregnant because “the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”

That’s been much more difficult for GOPers in Montana.

A whopping 57 candidates for the Montana legislature actually voted for an amendment to the Montana Constitution to ban abortion, under all circumstances, with no exception for rape or incest.  Sen. Debby Barrett (R-Dillon) was one of them, as democratic challenger Richard Turner of Dillan smartly points out in a mail piece (pictured).

The forced birth for rape victims amendment  cleared the house and the senate with 96 votes. All Republicans voted for it except Lila Evans.  However, because it takes a 2/3 vote of 150 legislators to amend the constitution,  the amendment failed by only four votes.

Below the fold is the list of current legislative candidates who voted in favor of forced births for victims of rape and incest.  Check it out to see if your legislator is on it–I’ve alphabetized the list by town.

Shamefully, Jonathan Windy Boy and Gene Vuckovich also made the list. To be sure, there are many more GOP candidates for legislature who share these beliefs but weren’t in the 2011 session–like Scott Sales. There are also many more Republican legislators who voted for this but aren’t up for re-election this year.

 Rick Hill, Steve Daines, and Tim Fox all support Akin’s position.  Rehberg was an early major donor to Akin.

Continue reading

Posted: May 9, 2011 at 8:58 pm

Legislative Attack on MT Voting Rights Spurs National Campaign

Montana has defeated several bills aimed at suppressing the vote, thanks in large part to vetoes by Governor Schweitzer.  In Montana, citizens have the right to register and vote at county clerks’ offices on Election Day and the preceding 30 days, and Schweitzer vetoed HB 180, by Rep. Champ Edmunds, which would have cut off this right starting after 5pm on the Friday before the election.  Schweitzer also vetoed HB 152, by Rep. Ted Washburn (R-Bozeman) which would have placed severe restrictions on the types of identification that voters could show in order to register to vote and cast a ballot.

Unfortunately these bills would have become law if the GOP had it’s way, and Schweitzer’s vetoes make Montana one of only a few states in a position to combat a concerted Republican plan to make voting much more difficult in states across the country.

In a New York Times editorial from last week, the Advancement Project, a civil rights advocacy group, described this rash of Republican-sponsored legislation as “the largest legislative effort to scale back voting rights in a century.”

That’s why a Montana legislator, Rep. Ellie Hill, (D-Missoula) who is also the  Vice President of the Young Democrats of America, is announcing a campaign this week focusing on ending this attack on young peoples’ voting rights.

Kudos to Hill for getting involved.  You can sign up here to find out more. If we don’t protect our voting rights, we won’t  be able to fight back by un-electing the politicians behind the GOP attacks on women and the poor.

Posted: February 12, 2011 at 9:42 am

TEA Party Tax Increasers’ Hypocrisy Exposed

Here at the Montana Cowgirl Blog, much time has been spent addressing the duplicity of Montana Republicans who say they are for lower taxes and smaller, less intrusive government while working to pass bills that raise taxes and  insert government where it doesn’t belong.

So when Rep. Ted Washburn (R-Bozeman) sponsors HB 313, a bill to  increase taxes to raise salaries for 70 of his favorite state employees (game wardens only need apply) we must add this to the growing list of hypocritical acts taken by the GOP this session.

The hypocrisy here is so blatant that even TEA Party legislator Rep. James Knox (R-Billings) had said he was not sure if he will support the bill, saying over at the Montana Watchdog:

“It’s a tough call.”

Only if you’re a giant hypocrite. The bill was tabled in committee yesterday.  Rep. Derek Skees is the TEA Party’s other tax increaser.

Posted: February 4, 2011 at 6:28 pm

Something’s Rotten in the State of Montana

Denny Rehberg, soon to be retired from public office, with his favorite beverage.Whatever happened before last Friday’s surprising defeat of the popular vote-by-mail bill in the Montana House of Representatives stinks to high heaven, and a lot of people in Helena are wondering when the press is going to start getting to the bottom of it.

House Bill 130, which would have launched a statewide vote-by-mail election system, passed twice with bipartisan support in House.  But after a secretive, last-minute lobbying campaign Friday, 15 Republicans switched their votes on the final reading, killing the popular bill with a vote of 57-42 (all House Democrats voted for it).

There’s a lot of buzz that Congressman Dennis Rehberg was pulling the strings at the Montana Capitol Friday, directing his henchmen to do the dirty work of vote-buying in the Montana House of Representatives, Jack Abramoff style.  After all, Rehberg has plans to run for the U.S. Senate in 2012—an election year that would have been significantly impacted by a vote-by-mail system.

Will Montana’s political reporters dare to ask what really happened?  Or are they content with softball news stories and lame Republican excuses?

If any reporter is interested in chasing this down, maybe this will help.  Here’s the contact information of the 15 Republicans who mysteriously changed their minds Friday.  What are they getting in return for their mysterious votes?   Montana voters deserve to know.