Tag Archives: tim fox

Funding the Fringe

Texas Fracking Brothers Fight to Force Their Religion into Montana Laws by Backing Right-Wing Legislative Candidates

by Cowgirl

Two Texas fracking billionaires who own land in Montana are again funneling hundreds of millions into right-wing causes and candidates after it was revealed that the Texans were the top donors to Montana legislative candidates last election cycle.  The brothers backed TEA Party and religious extremists with frightening beliefs.

The brothers own land in Montana, and their father is a right-wing pastor whose influence over state and federal laws they hope to spread- including the belief that rape victims should endure forced pregnancies. (Note: This extreme view is shared by none other than Steve Daines, who is on the record in favor of forcing women to bear children from rapists.   Remember last election cycle after Rick Santorum that told CNN that rape victims should suck it up and accept “the gift” that  “God has given to you”, Daines brought Santorum out to a fundraising event he had in Montana–with Santorum as the guest of honor.)

Anyway, back to the Wilks brothers scary views.  As Peter Montgomery, senior fellow at People For the American Way Foundation, writes of their dad who is a wingnut pastor at their church:

In his sermons, he decries “socialism” and argues that the Bible was grounded in the free market….He has suggested that the melting of the icecaps might be punishment for sin, and that President Barack Obama’s re-election may be a harbinger of the “end times.”

Besides being the largest donors to Montana legislative candidates, the Wilks brothers also gave $4 million to the parent organization of the Montana Family Foundation, a group which in turn worked to influence legislative races–including attack mailers in GOP primaries across the state. 

The MT Family Foundation is also crusading to dummy down education standards and keep discrimination against LGBT Montanans legal.  As the School Administrators of Montana have pointed out, the Montana Family Foundation claims that higher standards for reading and math are connected to the workings of “the United Nations, UNESCO, the ‘New World Order,’ Marxism, Globalism, Islam, etc.” and that the new, better standards are the culmination “of an envisioned future of  ‘dominant elites’ who have been working behind the scenes for over 100 years to ensure its adoption.”  The Family Foundation and its anti-illuminati cohorts also believe that celebrating bigotry by importing stale, greasy fast food from hundreds of miles away is a good idea.  Like the Wilks brothers, Greg Gianforte is also a major bankroller of the Montana Family Foundation.

But apparently Montana’s wingnut candidates are perfectly happy to do the bidding of out-of-state billionaires. In fact, a report by FollowtheMoney.org’s Amanda Harrow found that “70 percent of Republican legislators and 42 percent of the legislative body as a whole received contributions from the Wilkses during the 2012 election”–as did Attorney General Tim Fox.

Analysis: Clock Runs Out for Healthy Montana Initiative

The Healthy Montana Initiative announced to volunteers and supporters across the state that it will not qualify I-170 for the November ballot, but Montana advocates will continue the fight to provide health care for low income Montanans.

Personally I wonder if it is even possible to qualify an initiative in a non-presidential election year any more–especially because the percentage of Montanans who vote by mail continues to skyrocket. High mail vote numbers are usually a good thing for democracy because it’s a convenient way for many people to vote, but it makes it difficult to collect signatures. That’s because in a true citizens initiative driven by volunteers, the bulk of the signatures gathered come from standing outside polling locations on primary Election Day.

UPDATE: The best way to see how turnout and mail ballots has changed in recent years is to go look at the striking graphics up on James Conner’s Flathead Memo.  This chart tells the story best.

GOP Attorney General Tim Fox was another big part of the reason this ran out of time– he stalled the initiative effort by demanding that campaign organizers re-write the ballot language–forcing the citizens groups to spend time re-doing the initiative language that could have been spent gathering signatures–which may have been his intent.

But that wasn’t the only time opponents used stall tactics to prevent the ballot measure’s backers from having time to gather the necessary signatures.

They also had to fight off a lawsuit by TEA Party AG Tim Fox and a TEA Party legislative candidate named Matthew Monforton to block the popular citizen’s initiative to accept federal funding for health care for the working poor and veterans.

In a unanimous ruling, the justices of the MT Supreme Court ended up ruling that Fox’s and the TEA Partier’s attempt to invalidate the initiative fiscal statement was wrong. This fiscal statement was written by Fox himself and is supposed to explain how muh the measure could cost and save. Fox and the tea party tried to have it rewritten–an attempt to force the pro-Medicaid expansion signature gatherers to throw out thousands of signatures already gathered and start over at a later date, thereby severely restricting the amount of time they have to gather signatures. So the opponents failed, but in terms of time, money and resources used up to fight the legal challenge, the damage was severe.

It’s also worth noting that TEA Partier Monforton’s own attempt to block Medicaid expansion and nullify the entire Affordable Care Act had virtually no support. While the pro-expansion initiative got between 20-25,000 signatures, Monforton has never had enough to even report–which means so few signatures as to be embarrassing. I couldn’t find a Cowgirl tipster who had ever seen a Monforton signature gatherer.

Nor do I expect two anti-trapping ballot initiatives to qualify, nor the initiative to require a new appointment process for U.S. Senators, nor the initiative John Bohlinger proposed, nor the measure to require that half of our state legislators be women, nor the ban on medical cannabis, nor the measure to change how dentists are paid, nor the measure making it a right to access natural food and medicine, and not the several others out there that slip my mind right now either.

Most importantly however I think worth reading the statement from Montana’s leading field organizer and veteran human rights advocate Kim Abbott, who was the President of the Healthy Montana Initiative. If anyone could have qualified a citizens initiative ballot measure in this climate, it would have been Abbott. Nobody else even came close. (Charter’s paid signature gatherers bankrolled by corporate money hardly count, and it would not surprise me if Abbott bests them too.) Here’s Abbott:

“We are disappointed that the clock ran out on this effort, but we know that Montanans overwhelmingly support expanding Medicaid for 70,000 Montanans. Over 300 volunteers worked tirelessly over the past eight weeks. Because of their work, the movement to expand Medicaid grew by over 3,000 voters each and every week this spring. We are over 25,000 people stronger than we were when we started, and make no mistake, the momentum for this will continue to grow until Medicaid is expanded. There is too much at stake for Montanans, our hospitals and clinics, and our state to slow down now.

When we started this campaign in late March, we acknowledged that it was an uphill battle. We were forced to start over on the 30th day of our 30 day initiative review process. We faced obstructionism in the form of a legal challenge at the Supreme Court that threw our campaign in to legal uncertainly. We recognized that our grassroots team would be up against enormous, dark, outside money in November.

Even with all of these obstacles, we knew that it was truly a try or do nothing situation. We knew we would have to run a unique, grassroots campaign in order to compete. We knew doing nothing was not an option because 70,000 lives and the stability of hospitals and clinics depended on us. So we tried. Over 300 volunteers across the state – from Rexford to Red Lodge – donated their time to this effort. In eight weeks, our volunteers collected over 25,000 signatures. Unfortunately, the delays were simply too much. The June 20th deadline is the one barrier that we cannot work around. Our effort doesn’t get more time because we faced delays. Those are the rules and our campaign plays by them.

We are saddened that the citizens of Montana will not be able to vote in November on this critical issue. We want to be clear that our work will not end until 70,000 of our friends and neighbors have the health care they need and deserve. Montana cannot afford to stop until we get this done.”

Additional Information on I-170:

The Healthy Montana Initiative would have expanded Montana’s existing Medicaid program and provide health care to 70,000 low-income Montanans including veterans and their families, home health care workers, working parents, and other uninsured people. According to the Montana Budget and Policy Center, the Healthy Montana Initiative would have created 12,000 new jobs and give the state’s economy a $5.4 billion boost by accepting federal funds. Each day Montana does not expand Medicaid, our state turns away $1.84 million in federal funds.

To qualify an initiative or referendum for the ballot, signatures of five percent of the total number of qualified voters in the state (based on the number of votes cast for the office of governor in the last general election), including five percent of the voters in each of 34 legislative house districts must be obtained (a total of 24,175 signatures).

Supporting organizations include: AARP Montana, Blue Mountain Clinic Family Practice, Child Care Resources, MEA-MFT, Montana Budget and Policy Center, Montana Coalition Against Domestic & Sexual Violence, MHA – An Association of Montana Health Care Providers, Montana Human Rights Network, Montana Nurses Association, Montana Organizing Project, Montana Primary Care Association, Montana State AFL-CIO, Montana Women Vote, Rural Dynamics, Inc., Planned Parenthood Advocates of Montana, SEIU Healthcare 775NW, and Western Native Voice.

Our thanks are due to them all. The upshot here is that the pro-expansion movement now has a large base of informed, motivated and active volunteers that will be able to apply considerable and awe-inspiring pressure on the 2015 legislature to do the right thing. This power and pressure will only continue to grow.

For more information on the Healthy Montana Initiative, go to www.healthymontanainitiative.org or email healthmtinitiative@gmail.com.

Supreme Court Unanimously Tosses TEA Party Lawsuit

MonfortonTinFoilThe Montana Supreme Court today rejected an attempt by TEA Party AG Tim Fox and a TEA Party legislative candidate to block a citizen’s initiative to accept federal funding for health care for the working poor and veterans today.

In a unanimous ruling, the justices ruled that Fox’s and the TEA Partier’s attempt to invalidate Fox’s own fiscal statement and have it rewritten–an attempt to force the pro-Medicaid expansion signature gatherers to throw out thousands of signatures already gathered and start over at a later date, thereby severely restricting the amount of time they have to gather signatures.

It did not go unnoticed by the Supreme Court justices that these same obstructionists failed to voice their supposed concerns during the public comment period, thereby making their attempt to invalidate current signatures pretty obvious.

Montana Attorney General Tim FoxRemember also that it was Tim Fox himself who was charged with writing the fiscal statement.  He didn’t voice any concerns about his own work at the time he wrote it, yet instead decided to sign on to a lawsuit filed against himself, which speaks to his lack of competence if nothing else.

TEA Party Republican legislator Fred Thomas responded by saying any justice that disagreed with him “shouldn’t be on the Supreme Court.”   I guess he means all of them, including the arch conservatives on the court, since the ruling was unanimous.

TEA Partiers Running as Dems Become Active in Right-Wing Causes

A dirty plot hatched by the local conservatives to deceive voters and with TEA Party Republicans pretending to be Democrats has thickened.  No less than eight TEA Party conservatives have filed for office as democrats has just come to light. Now, the possible motives and potential and level of coordination of these party-switching candidates is starting to emerge: one has already appeared as a pawn in a lawsuit filed by a right-wing extremist and TEA Party candidate who is seeking to block access to federal funds to pay for health care for the working poor and Veterans in Montana.

Take fake democrat Kathy Hollenback, who appears in TEA Party republican Matthew Monforton’s lawsuit against Republican Tim Fox. Monforton has filed a flurry of lawsuits laden with right-wing ideology and buzzwords since becoming a candidate for office. He’s suing the Attorney General because Fox certified the Medicaid expansion ballot initiative as legally sufficient and wrote a fiscal statement for the initiative which explains both the cost and the savings of the measure to accept federal funds and use available federal monies coming to Montana for health care for the working poor: ranch hands, motel clerks, construction workers, and waitresses.

Monforton recruited Hollenback  to help him deceive the public into thinking he has bipartisan support his nonsense.

Screen shot 2014-04-08 at 10.29.50 PM

Hollenback’s husband is David Ponte who formerly ran for legislature on the GOP ticket in 2010.  Ponte is a tea party winger who is precinct chair of the Gallatin Republican Party.  Ponte has filed numerous complaints against democrats and mainstream Republicans whom the TEA Partiers dislike.

The other parties Monforton has recruited for his lawsuit he claims are part of an MSU group that doesn’t appear anywhere other than the pages of his twisted legal arguments.

Monforton has given his group the ridiculous sounding name “If You Like Your MSU Funding, You Can Keep It.”  The supposed “group” includes Kathy Hollenback, TEA Party candidate running as a fake democrat, Ed Johnson, an MSU student running for the Legislature as a Republican; and Kyndall Miller, daughter of Ken Miller, who lost in the GOP Gubernatorial primary against Rick Hill in 2012.

Both Ed Johnson and Hollenback are running in HD66, in the heart of Bozeman.

Monforton wrote a letter to the editor in the Bozeman Chronicle recently denigrating the elected body he himself is seeking to join as a “parliament of whores.” Rick Hill hired Bozeman Tea Party hot-head Monforton to give him legal advice.

To my knowledge, the Gallatin Republicans have’t weighed in on this deception yet, nor have they explained why Gallatin Republicans have a white supremacist on their website, Drew Turiano.

 

What Does the Fox Say

Montana Attorney General Tim Fox

Montana Attorney General Tim Fox

A Montana state senator and professor of economics is calling foul on GOP Attorney General Tim Fox for obscuring the facts about an initiative that would cost the state billions and eliminate health care for 100,000 of the state’s poorest children.

The state lawmaker and PhD economist called Fox’s official explanation of the cost of a ballot measure to nullify the Affordable Care Act “entirely inadequate” and says it “grossly misstates the principal findings of the fiscal note on which it is based.” Continue reading

Tim Fox Conjures Up Bigamy, Incest to Defend Marriage Discrimination in Nevada

Montana Attorney General Tim FoxMontana Attorney General Tim Fox has fallen all over himself to get behind another piece of right wing imbecility in another state.

This time, Fox invokes incest and bigamy to defend a Nevada marriage ban. Continue reading

Has Montana’s Attorney General Privatized His Own Job?

It seems Montana Attorney General Tim Fox has really taken the conservative mantra that the private sector can do everything better to heart–applying it even to his own job.

Fox put out a press release today to tell us that he has submitted comments on an Environmental Impact Statement for a coal export port in Washington.  Members of the press are instructed that Fox’s comments can be downloaded by clicking a link at the end of the release. Continue reading

When Hate is not Just a ‘Virtue,’ It Makes You a Viable Candidate

The man that may become the nation’s most wackjob candidate for U.S. Senate is also the darling of Montana right-wingers.

Texas pastor and nutjob radio host David Barton, dubbed “Ted Cruz 2.0″ by Politico, when the news magazine reported this week that he was being recruited to run against TX Sen. John Cornyn, who has fallen out of favor with the TEA Party crew. Barton was brought to Montana this year as the keynote speaker for the so-called 2013 Montana “Governor’s” Prayer Breakfast. (The event is not affiliated with the state government in any way, in spite of what Judy Martz may have wished).

In case you haven’t heard of Barton, he claims that the slaughter of American Indians was justified as “a defensive war against tribes who ‘declared war on all the white guys.’ ‘We had to go in and we had to destroy Indian tribes all over until they said ‘Oh, got the point,’ Barton said, claiming that the tactics were only necessary because Indians were resisting missionaries who were trying to ‘civilize’ them.”

He also believes that demons control parts of the U.S. capitol, that schools turn kids gay, and that the Bible opposes minimum wage. He holds a slew of other hateful and wackjob things, its definitely worth reading this whole list.

So this was no mainstream event–in fact the organizers of the “Governor’s Prayer Breakfast” made a point of refusing to read a letter from Montana Governor Steve Bullock [click here for the PDF] because he said that providing health care to poor people was consistent with biblical teachings. Ohio’s Republican Governor John Kasich has made a similar argument for the Medicaid expansion.

Not this guy’s Bible apparently. Barton says “tolerance is a bad thing and hate is a good thing.” “We’re tolerating a lot stuff that destroys our families, that destroys our own character and we can’t tolerate that stuff. We have to get back to the point where hate is a virtue, at least certain kinds of hate.” Barton said climate change is caused not by fossil fuels, but by a curse we brought on ourselves by permitting abortion rights. Yes, because the U.S. supports allowing women to choose whether and when to have a child we “‘opened the door to the curse,’ which includes floods, tornadoes, murder and pedophilia.”

Tim Fox, now Montana’s Attorney General, served as co-chair of the event to bring Barton to Montana. Scott Mendenhall, a Republican who represented House District 77 in Jefferson County for four terms, was the events chair. The Helena IR covered the event, and controversy, at the time, but for some reason neglected to report some of Barton’s most infamous beliefs and statements.

 

Barry Beach Tries for Clemency, Again

Barry Beach, serving a 100 year prison sentence with no possibility of parole, has applied to the Montana Board of Pardons for clemency.  If he gets what he wants then the Board will recommend to Governor Bullock that Beach be made eligible for release, having now served 30 years in prison for a 1983 crime he says he did not commit. Bullock could then accept or reject the recommendation.

An all-star lineup of politicians has written letters on Beach’s behalf including Conrad Burns, John Tester, Brian Schweitzer and John Bohlinger.  Bullock’s duty as Attorney General was to argue in support of Beach’s conviction, but that doesn’t preclude him from now allowing Beach to be paroled.  But this is all assuming that the Board gives Beach a favorable ruling.  If the Board turns Beach down then it’s the end of the line for Barry.  He will live out the rest of his life in prison unless he lives to the age of 118.

In 2011, a district Judge in Lewistown ordered Beach released after a hearing was held in which new doubt about his conviction was raised.  Six months later the Supreme Court overturned the order and sent him back to jail.  Beach took advantage of his freedom and started his own business, and otherwise lived out his brief respite without incident.

The doubts surrounding Beach’s conviction are well known to anyone who has followed the sizable amount of journalism on the case.   The short story is that his conviction was based entirely on a confession, which he says was coerced by the policemen who had him in custody.  There was no forensic evidence of any kind that tied Beach to the crime.

The Missoula Independent did a very thorough write-up a few years ago, which I encourage you to read.  To summarize, in 1983 Beach was convicted of the murder of Kim Nees, a high school classmate.  Beach was 17 at the time of the murder.  There were many fingerprints and footprints found at the crime scene, which was a muddy river bank where Kim Nees’s body was found face down in shallow water not far from her truck.   None of these prints matched Beach.  There were eyewitnesses who told police investigators that they had seen a gang of women in the truck with Nees shortly before she was murdered.

Beach was arrested in Louisiana three years later, for a misdemeanor.   While in custody, the police took his confession to four murders, three local murders and the Nees murder, which they learned about after calling up to Poplar Montana to ask local police about Beach.  The three local Louisiana murders which Beach confessed to were later determined to have nothing to do with him because he hadn’t even been in the state at the time of their occurrence.

Beach has always claimed that his confession to the Nees murder, in which he admits to beating Nees with a wrench for rebuffing his sexual overtures, was coerced with deprivation, intimidation, threats of torture and the electric chair, and many deceptive promises made to him by the four officers who were present when they took the confession.   The confession was taken in a notoriously corrupt Louisiana sheriff’s office. There was a tape recording of Beach’s confessions including his confession to the Kim Nees murder, but it vanished, as did all of the physical evidence collected at the crime scene, including items such as cigarette butts with unidentified fingerprints on them.

And then there was the prosecutor, the future Governor Marc Racicot who tried the case. In his opening statement to the jury, Racicot announced that he would soon be showing the jury a single pubic hair that had been discovered on the sweater of the victim and which had similarities to Beach’s hair.  But Racicot never produced any such piece of evidence.  Worse, he referenced the hair a second time, in his closing statement.

Racicot also called to the stand one of the the Louisiana cops who took Beach’s confession, an officer named Jay Via.  Via testified that Beach’s Louisiana attorney was in the interrogation room when Beach confessed. But Beach’s attorney, upon hearing this (he was in Louisiana during the trial), denied it vehemently in a sworn affidavit, essentially accusing Racicot and Via of perpetrating a blatant lie into evidence.

Three local girls (two of whom had immediate relatives who were working in the Poplar police department at the time of the murder, including one who broke into the evidence room during the trial) were among the initial suspects, in part because they were known to hold a strong animus against the victim.  In the years since, a number of locals in Poplar have come forward to say that they have heard first hand admissions of guilt by at least two of these women.  These locals testified at the 2011 hearing that led to the release of Beach by district judge E. Wayne Phillips who presides in Lewistown.

Judge Phillips, you will appreciate, used to work for Tea Party wingnut Art Wittich  when Wittich was counsel to GOP governor Stan Stevens.  So Phillips is no bleeding heart, apparently, and might even be a Tea Partier.

Montana Attorney General Tim Fox has stated that Beach should remain in prison for the next 70 years because he confessed and was convicted, and thus is guilty.  This has been the line out of the AG’s office since the early 2000s.

Nobody will ever know what took place on the night that Kim Nees was murdered, nor has Beach proved his innocence despite what his advocates might say.  Innocence cannot be proven here, I suppose, unless one of the other suspects admits under oath or on video tape to having committed the murder.

But given the history of this case and the facts surrounding the trial, it’s hard to imagine that the Board of Pardons would not at least make a recommendation to the Governor that Beach’s sentence be restructured so that he can apply for parole.  We should all be concerned with a case in which a 17 year old kid gets sent away for life with no possibility of parole, in which an a prosecutor with political ambitions presents lies to a jury to substantiate his case, in which a questionable confession is the sole piece of evidence, and in which much evidence was destroyed or simply disappeared.

This is Beach’s third try at clemency.  The first time he represented himself.  On his second try he was represented by pro bono attorneys from Centurion Ministries, an outfit which has freed over 100 wrongly convicted individuals, usually on DNA evidence but sometimes on false confessions.  That was in 2006, and he sought a full pardon and a declaration of innocence.  He lost.  This time, he is simply seeking a commutation of his sentence to time served.   We will see how he does.

Even if he had been proved guilty with overwhelming evidence, I might still support an opportunity for parole after 30 years of prison given his age at the time of the crime.  In fact, the U.S. Supreme Court no longer allows life without parole to be meted out to a minor, even in cases in which guilt is overwhelmingly obvious.  But with the amount of doubt surrounding his conviction, justice probably requires Beach to be free now.

Fox apparently disagrees.  I’d be interested to know how Racicot feels.  All Racicot has ever said to the press is that he has “no doubt that Barry Beach is guilty as charged.”   That was in 2007.  He has not specifically ever addressed the size of the sentence, and whether it might be a tad too heavy given the case history.  My guess is that we won’t hear from Racicot on this issue.  Because he probably knows, in his heart, that parole eligibility would be proper; and yet to express support for it would be to admit that he has doubts in his head about what he did in the courtroom in 1983.

Montana AG Bungles Bubba Bump

Promoted Cop with Harassment Rap to Top Job

Sudden Resignation; Cowgirl Exclusive

The head of the Montana Highway Patrol, Kenton Hickethier, is resigning after only seven months on the job, after it was revealed he has a history of making inappropriate remarks to, or about, female employees and black people.

Kenton HickethierAccording to the Great Falls Tribune, Hickethier once said of a female trooper with whom he was disappointed, “If she were a man,” the rest of the troopers “would take her behind the woodshed.”  On another occasion, he made remarks “in regard to the age of (an unidentified trooper’s) spouse, a joke in regard to a female instructor’s weight, and a comment about (an unidentified trooper) having dinner with black troopers from North Carolina,” according to documents seen by the Tribune.  These incidents were noted in his personnel file and he was warned and/or disciplined.  These incidents happened prior to his appointment to Highway Chief, as far back as 2008.

And this evening Cowgirl Blog received additional documents, a Human Rights employment suit against Hickethier based on a gender harassment theory, in which Hickenthier is accused of having passed over an officer, Glenn Quinell (the accuser bringing the suit) for promotion because Quinell objected to Hickenthier’s misogynistic comments, and to comments Hickenthier made about Quinnell’s wife.  Quinnell  also alleges that Hickethier once ordered him to arrest two people for being in America illegally, even though there were no grounds; and that when Quinnell protested, he was reprimanded by Hikcethier.  Finally, Hickethier is alleged to have once said to Quinnell, “Once you go black, you never go back,” when Hickethier got upset that Quinnell was out socializing with black state troopers from another state, at a conference, rather than drinking socially with the white Montana team.

Hickethier has not been found guilty of the Human Rights complaint (yet), and one could argue that while his comments and actions are offensive and perhaps actionable, they are not all egregious.  But what is certain is that  Tim Fox, the Montana Attorney General who promoted Hickethier to Chief, must now answer an embarrassing question: why did you appoint someone to the state’s top police job, when he had a documented history of making such remarks?  It’s an almost comical case of incompetence on Fox’s part.

On the one hand, we know the global answer to that question: Republicans (and Hickethier is almost certainly a Republican if he was appointed by Fox) often do not have a basic understanding about the kind of things you shouldn’t say about women and black people.  Thus might Fox have simply assumed that there was nothing wrong with the things Hickethier had been disciplined for.

But we are to believe Fox, he says he never knew about these incidents.  He claimed today that he had no idea Hickethier had such a record when he hired him, even though someof Hickethier’s several offenses took place as early as 2008 and were listed in his personnel file at the Department of Justice.   This means that Fox made undertook no due diligence at all when he appointed Hickethier.  Never mind a formal background check, Fox didn’t even bother to look at Hickethier’s personnel file at Montana Dept. of Justice.    And this is a very scary thing, because Fox is the state’s highest ranking law enforcement official.  This is negligence and incompetence, of the highest order.

One other thing. If you read between the lines, it looks like Fox’s office is trying to claim that Hickethier was already planning to retire, and thus he is not specifically retiring because of these past incidents.  That’s pretty obviously a bunch of spin.  He was just appointed to the job seven months ago.