Tag Archives: Tom McGillvray

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.


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.


GOP: “We can’t win, so let’s change the rules”

As usual, Republicans are calling for the rules of a game to be changed, because Democrats play the game better and play it smarter.

Too stupid to know how to organize a get-out-the-vote effort like Democrats with technology, sophistication and smarts, Republicans in Montana (and nationally) are now complaining about the fact that “too many people were voting.

Tom McGilvray, one of the Tea Party’s top imbeciles in Montana, has decided that the sheer numbers of voters in Billings presented a serious problem for Republicans. He is already calling for an end to election day registration and a shrinking of early vote options.

This will be a first order of business for the new legislature and governor, but the GOP will use the occasion–the long lines in certain major cities–to argue that liberalized voting rules have caused the problem.  The GOP thinks, perhaps mistakenly, that if it’s harder to vote, they will gain an advantage.  They will use this lie to try to get support for rolling back early voting, same day registration, etc.

In fact, what needs to happen is the devotion of more resources to county election offices,  sufficient manpower and equipment so that things work smoothly and efficiently on election day.   People in Montana are voting in some of the highest numbers in the state’s history.  They are engaged, and the GOP doesn’t like that.   Republicans did better when more voters were apathetic, and so they want to return to those glory days.

Early voting must remain; vote by mail must increase; and same day registration must remain, because it is an important way of allowing people to vote when they have moved addresses but there’s a glitch in the system, for whatever reason, that hasn’t recorded it properly. In the past, these folks have been turned away.  Now with same day registration, they can vote.

An additional idea is to limit the number of referenda that the Montana legislature can submit.  The ballot was too long and took people too long to fill out.  That’s because the GOP, unable to get past Schweitzer’s veto branding iron, bypassed the Governor with stupid ballot initiatives on things that don’t even affect our state like illegal immigration.

Truth is, Republicans lost the two big statewide races for three basic reasons, which are 1) they had inferior statewide candidates, 2) the Republican brand is in the toilet, thanks in large part to the Tea Party, and 3) they gave away an average of 5 points to the libertarian candidate.  Nothing to do with voting, whether early, late or often.

And you can already see the finessing and smoothtalking starting up from GOP lawmakers.  Republicans are now saying that they were “unable to work with Schweitzer,” citing as evidence his 80 vetoes of their insane bills, and saying that they “look forward” to having a “working relationship” with the new governor.  Had Schweitzer signed their election bills, tens of thousands of Montanans would have waited many more hours on interminable lines to vote, and would then have been turned away.  The GOP believes this would have imparted a conservative tilt to the final vote tally.

So let’s not fall for the GOP nonsense.  Even Republican state senator Dave Lewis admitted in the press that the reason Schweitzer had to veto 80 GOP bills is that they were awful pieces of legislation.

Republicans Announce First Post-Election Policy Priorities

With vote counting nearly concluded Montana Republicans eagerly announced their first policy priorities for the upcoming legislative session.

As the Billings Gazette reports, the agenda is focused around making it more difficult to vote.

TEA Party Republican Rep. Tom McGillvray, who is the county campaign chair for failed governor candidate Rick Hill, said he sees a problem with the “crush of Election Day voter registration.”  McGillvray says same day registration isn’t fair.  Rather, he believes it “makes it difficult ‘to have a fair, orderly election.'”

Joe Bailey, vice chair of the Yellowstone County Republicans also proposed  “cutting off voting at 10 p.m., regardless of how many people are still in line.”

We’ve Got a Problem

There are still thousands of ballots to count in Yellowstone County.  The fate one of Montana’s most important statewide races hangs in the balance, and several legislative contests are yet to be decided. The counting process is still going on now, as you can see from these pictures.

The pictures also show that there is cause for concern.

The first is a picture of an important sign in the Yellowstone County elections offices.  The sign clearly directs that people “DO NOT ENTER” the area where thousands of votes are still being counted. The area is sequestered so that those observing the vote counting process may see the process with out being able to tamper with the ballots.


Tom McGillvrayAnd these are pictures of TEA Party Republican state Rep. Tom McGillvray, of Billings.  (He’s the one in the suit. Here’s what he looks like from the front.)

The TEA Partier was caught on camera having barged right into the sequestered area in spite of regulations to protect the integrity of the counts.



Top GOP Official Suspects Obama was “Foreign Exchange Student”

More birther nonsense from the Montana GOP leadership this week, under a new iteration.

The GOP House Majority Leader, Tom McGillvray, tweeted this week (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.

I’m sure that Billings residents will be encouraged to know that their state representative is hard at work, tending to important matters.

McGillvray, by the way, is the nutjob who introduced a bill in the Montana legislature in 2011 that would have made divorce illegal unless the couple had gone through state-mandated marital therapy.

So his tweet, actually, is nothing out of the ordinary.

We’ve Got a Screamer

Anti-intelligence candidate Jon Arnold has filed for office on the Republican ticket.  He says he wants voters to send him “kicking and screaming” to Helena.

 I will go kicking and screaming into Helena, pushing our leaders to try to take back our powers that have been restrained from us by the federal government.

I think Arnold is confused about what “going kicking and screaming” means.  But that’s no surprise, considering that he’ll tell you straight up: “intellectuals” are the problem:

We have a despotic, unconstitutional fourth branch of government, comprised of a small army of two million bureaucrats….Many of these people are considered to be “intellectuals.”  The problem with intellectuals is that they are not smart enough to know the things that they don’t know.  This was the brilliance of our founders.

Well, it is “the brilliance” of Jon Arnold anyway.

Jon Arnold is running for legislatureIt used to be that being smart and getting an education was viewed as important in America. But now, it’s the dumb that we put on a pedestal.   And to what do we owe this gift of dumb? Right-wing fundamentalism, both religious and political. We have a Presidential candidate who is worried that Satan is attacking America.  Rick Santorum says, in public, that college is all part of Obama’s evil plan to corrupt the nation’s youth.

Arnold further demonstrates his aversion to smart when he asks voters to:

Imagine if ten years from now there is a “sin tax” (such as those for alcohol and tobacco) for the purchase of a cheeseburger…The only protection against such injustices is to not grant the government this power to begin with.

What Arnold doesn’t know is that there is already a gaggle of Montana politicians clamoring for policies that would require a massive food police bureaucracy–at an enormous expense.  However, they are all members of his own party.  Here is a list of legislators (all Republicans) that signed an op-ed in favor of the idiotic boondoggle. The “evidence” for the claims made in the op-ed comes from TEA Party Republican Tom Burnett’s own blog and “research” paper.

Representatives: Tom Burnett, Janna Taylor,  Salomon, Wayne Stahl, Jonathan McNiven, Pat  Ingraham, Tom McGillvray, Ken Peterson, Jeff Wellborn,  Cary Smith, Jerry O’Neil, Bob Wagner, James Knox,  Dan Skattum, Wendy  Warburton, David Howard, Jerry Bennett, Jesse O’Hara, Christy Clark, Kris Hansen, Champ Edmunds, Krayton Kerns, Ron Ehli, Mark  Blasdel, Doug Kary, Austin  Knudsen, Kelly Flynn, Walt McNutt, John Esp, Pat Connell, Matt Rosendale, Cleve Loney, Mike Cuffe

Senators: Debby Barrett, Ed Walker, Ryan Zinke, Bob Lake

Arnold is a Republican candidate Montana Senate District 43, which includes Anaconda and surrounding communities.

Billings Republican Wants More Goverment

So much for the party of less government.

Rep. Tom McGillvray (R-Billings) attempted to get the legislature to sign-on in opposition to the ACLU’s lawsuit seeking relationship recognition for LGBT folks in the state. This comes as no surprise considering McGillvray’s long-time hobby of trying to insert government into the personal relationships of Montanans. He sponsored one of the nuttiest bills of the legislative session–compulsory marriage counseling for people seeking a divorce (House Bill 438) which was repeatedly been voted down by his own colleagues.   Under McGilvray’s law, a woman would be required to remain married to drug addicts, those who have gambled away their life savings, drug dealers, criminals, and general bad spouses, and undergo ten hours of mandatory counseling over eight weeks. Tom McGillvray’s bill made the Cowgirl Blog’s list of the session’s nuttiest bills.
So, when his bill failed yet again, McGillvray apparently sought other ways to insert himself into personal family decisions where government doesn’t belong–just as getting the legislature involved in fighting the ALCU lawsuit. Here’s the video:

Fortunately, Democrats on the committee stuck together and voted down McGillvray’s ridiculous measure.

What’s even more unfortunate for McGillvray (but fortunate for Montanans who don’t want the government interfering in their relationships with other consenting adults) is that 62% of Montanans support some form of relationship recognition for gay and lesbian couples in the state, as we saw in the most recent Public Policy Polling survey. Looks like today’s loss for McGillvray is just the first in what will surely be a long string of them.

Inside the Bad Idea Factory

The bad ideas and nutty legislation proposed in the Montana legislature certainly did not come from Montana constituents, and  did not even (always) originate in the muddled minds of TEA Party Republicans. Instead, many of the bad bills came from an out-of-state hard right strategy group known as the American Legislative Exchange Council or ALEC.

Much research has already been done into the connections between ALEC and its corporate backers from Big Tobacco, PHARMA, and Big Oil, and there are several good sources of information out there about these connections. But that’s not the whole story.

This summer, Center for Media and Democracy posted some 800 ALEC “model” bills and resolutions on a new website, ALECexposed.org.     Now, internet savvy Montanans have an intriguing and largely untapped resource to compare ALEC bills to proposals in the Montana legislature and to see how and where they overlap. It would be interesting if people who find things post them  in the comments. Then we could all see what patterns emerge, if there are certain legislators who were the worst offenders, or if certain policy areas appear to dominate the list.

Even the briefest look at the ALEC documents shows that its goals appear to be much broader than enacting pro-corporate policy.

In some instances, the model legislation is designed to advance the agenda of far-right religious fundamentalists to steer public funds to religious/private schools. Here’s the model ALEC bill on special education vouchers–a type of “gateway” proposal to lead the way to full private/religious school vouchers later–and here is the Montana legislative version, for comparison.

In many cases however, the greater goals appear to be electoral.  Take the voter suppression proposal, a bill that (if it wasn’t vetoed) would have helped Republicans keep more young Montanans, seniors, and low-income people living in isolated areas from voting.  Here’s the model ALEC Model bill to require a current photo ID to vote, and  here’s the Montana legislative bill.

The other way ALEC advances the GOP electoral strategy is by forcing dems to take tough votes on issues that the republicans will then use to campaign against them.  Take for example, the ALEC bill to opt out of health care reform.  Here is the model ALEC bill for a constitutional amendment to allow states to opt-out and here’s the Montana legislative version.

Republicans don’t like to talk about how they are using the legislative process for partisan electioneering with assistance from out-of-state groups.  Instead, they claim that ALEC is no more than a non partisan source of policy materials and even bragged about their attempts to pass ALEC legislation.

Here is a list of current legislators with ALEC task force positions (below the fold).  Like the TEA Party, the ALEC crew appears to be concentrated in the House with a few notable exceptions, like State Senator and Gubernatorial run considerer Jeff Essmann.   The list also seems heavy on Republicans from the Flathead area.

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POST SESSION PREVIEW: GOP Primed With Unique Leadership Pool for 2012

The GOP has realized it is out of bad ideas and is preparing to abandon ship.  So with the end of the session near, it is time for gubernatorial candidates to start campaigning in earnest.

The primary candidates will need to work hard to separate themselves from the pack –I believe there are at least six R’s thought to be running– by winning over key constituencies that are parts of the GOP base. One way to do that is by the strategic recruitment of future political appointees.

Here is a list of potential cabinet level possibilities selected from the GOP’s top leadership –bold minds that a Republican may need to get to get through a full primary field.

Director of the Department of Revenue, Bob Wagner (R-Harrison) was the most outspoken member of the GOP legislature on monetary policy, especially the gold standard.

Wendy Warburton (R-Havre) has positioned herself well as the GOP expert on military affairs, or at least militias, making her a great choice for GOP pick for Director of Military Affairs.

A Lt. Governor pick is key for helping to turn out the vote among key constituencies, and Champ Edmunds (R-Missoula) certainly was the Republican poster boy for voter policy this session (leading their campaign to suppress the vote in Montana) .

For Fish Wildlife and Parks director, the GOP need look no further than spear hunting spokesmodel, Greg Hinkle.

For the right pick for Department of Environmental Quality look no further than GOP visionary,  Derek Skees, (R-Whitefish Kalispell)  who was advocating for nuclear power before Japan, oh..wait…

The Montana GOP already has a man whose making national waves in the climate change discussion, making intelligent science expert Joe Read (R-Ronan)  a perfect pick to lead the DNRC.

Alan Hale, expert on driving (especially where drinking is concerned) exemplifies the views of many GOP-ers on transportation issues, making him a leading pick for Director of Transportation.

And for the Department of Health and Human Services – Tom McGillvray (R-Billings) who understands that the best way to help people is to attack and insult women and to keep them down!  Sums up the GOP philosophy of keeping government out of everything — except your most personal and private business– perfectly.