Posted: April 19, 2014 at 6:49 am

GUEST POST: The Primary Hypocrite Wittich

Note: This is a guest opinion piece by Rep. Jesse O’Hara (R-Great Falls).  As I mentioned earlier, the Cowgirl Blog welcomes guest post submissions.  The blog has in the past an will continue to consider guest opinion pieces from conservatives/Republicans subject to my discretion.  Rep. Jesse O’Hara, while of a different political party and with whom I and readers here will disagree on many points, has a reputation for being a thoughtful and effective lawmaker who puts his constituents first.  Note also that Wittich is said to be seeking a leadership position in the house after recruiting primary opponents against current members of the house. The piece below came with the following introduction:

My name is Jesse O’Hara and I am currently serving as a State Representative from Great Falls Montana, albeit I am vacationing at my winter home in Florida at the moment.  I can be reached at 1-406-781-3333, or emailed at jesse59404@yahoo.com.com or jesse151943@gmail.com.    My Great Falls address is: 2908 Wells Fargo, Great Falls, Mt. 59404.

Last session I was the longest serving member in the Montana House.   What I witnessed was an extremist group going to almost any lengths to purify the Republican Party.   Senate Majority Leader Wittich consistently spoke to the positives of every Republican having a primary, even saying that he planned on having one.  He constantly prattled on that primaries were good in that they allowed the voter to pick between Republican ideologies, and that the voter would pick the extreme ideology.    Then, in the last few minutes of the last day, he fled from a primary to an uncontested race.   It seems he was and is a hypocrite.  Primaries are only good for others.

In my five decades of political activity, including serving as both a State Senator and Representative, I have never seen anything quite like this.

***

Sometimes, to defend poor choices, a man’s bravado has his mouth writing checks his butt can’t cash. This appears to have been the scenario facing Senator Wittich in the final hours of filing for legislative office.

First, a history lesson: Wittich and his associates, while safely nestled in the warm embrace of Dark Money, have made it their mission to inform Republicans that primaries are good for the party. They justified this claim by stating that primaries have a uniquely “purifying” power that forces candidates to “own their vote.”

It seems an opponent was listening. On the final day of election signups, Wittich had the opportunity to put his hollow maxim to the test – to finally live by the words he preached. A primary loomed.

Nervous and caught unaware, Wittich began to ponder …

Maybe his singular dubious accolade, a stellar rating on Koopman’s cherry-picked scorecard (TAB), didn’t have the star power envisioned?

Maybe the verdict on his failed leadership would haunt him? Would anybody actually believe the fable that his failure to lead was somebody else’s fault?

Maybe he feared that the voters would uncover his efforts to dismantle public education?  Or his reference to volunteer school trustees as members of a ‘commie’ club?

Or maybe, just maybe, it was the zero he received on the Montana University System scorecard? Bozeman is a university town and his constituents might find it unsettling that Senator Wittich’s only support for the university was empty lip service.

By closing time, Senate Majority Leader Wittich had decided that an open discussion of his record, his leadership failure, and his looming legal troubles was a sure recipe for defeat. He disowned his principles and fled the primary to an uncontested House race.  Can anyone say – hypocrite?

Representative Jesse O’Hara

Posted: April 17, 2014 at 10:11 pm

Oathkeepers to Rally for Guns, Bunkers Saturday

The Daily Inter Lake’s daybook includes a listing for an Oathkeepers Rally this Saturday in Kalispell, the Flathead Memo reports.  

The event is sure to include discussion about the Bunkerville rebellion in Nevada. (Unless the Oathkeepers have all departed already for that state.) In which case attendance may be limited to GOP legislative candidates hoping to burnish their TEA Party creds without having to actually point a gun at a federal official but rather to just casually fondle it.

Certainly the uprising has  already drawn representatives from some Montana militia groups, including one ”Cap. Rick Lovelien Company Commander MTDF, state wide (Libby).”  This same individual has also signed his name to a list of “Patriots” willing to put the hit on the Kenyan socialist president Obama. So there is that.

The Anti-Defamation League and the Southern Poverty Law Center both name-checked the group in their reports on rising anti-government extremism, and it would be most interesting to see which GOP legislative candidates attend.

Posted: April 17, 2014 at 7:56 pm

Republican Email Circulating Takes Aim at TEA Party Legislators

An email making the rounds in Republican circles today urges GOPers to stop the TEA Party “from doing any further damage to our beloved Montana GOP.”

The email take particular issue with Art Wittich, Jason Priest, Matt Rosendale, and Tom Tuck and the Gallatin County Republican Central Committee, was forwarded on by a tipster.  It is pasted below in its entirety so you can decide what to make of it yourselves.

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: Concerned Montanans <montanansontheissues@gmail.com>
Date: Thu, Apr 17, 2014 at 1:38 PM
Subject: Montanans on the Issues
To: montanansontheissues@gmail.com

Dear Concerned Montana Republicans,

Please boycott the Radical Tea Party members claiming to be Republicans and any future events they may have.

To find out why please read below: 

As many of you know radical Tea Party members are attempting to take over the Montana GOP and although we would agree on many of the issues they are promoting, the Tea Party has been taken over by criminals, liars, and cheats!!!

For example, the state political practices commissioner released findings on, Tuesday, April 1st, showing that Senate Majority Leader ART WITTICH violated the law by coordinating with Western Tradition Partnership and other entities to accept illegal corporate donations in his 2010 primary election campaign. THIS IS A FELONY CRIME!! Later that same day, Commissioner Jonathan Motl filed a civil complaint against ART WITTICH.

Is this someone we want our children looking up to?

For more information on ART WITTICH’s criminal activity please see the Billings Gazette article at:http://billingsgazette.com/news/state-and-regional/montana/commissioner-montana-senate-leader-broke-campaign-laws/article_03bef6a7-dc2f-513b-b7ba-4fb44a3d1de4.html

ART WITTICH and other GOP Central Committee members, claiming to be Republicans, such as TOM TUCK, the Gallatin County Republican Central Committee’s chair, also work very closely with JASON PRIEST whom was arrested last February on suspicion of partner family member assault and resisting arrest. Priest is also is a founder of a nonprofit group called Montana Growth Network which supports U.S. HOUSE Candidate MATT ROSENDALE.​

Is this someone we want out children looking up to?

To find out more pertaining to the coordination between JASON PRIEST and ART WITTICH click below:

http://billingsgazette.com/news/state-and-regional/republican-senator-jason-priest-arrested/article_8e17b3a1-d8b4-5a44-aff2-3b8ce5ba08d6.html

What is the one thing all these criminals have in common, they all rabidly support, U.S. House Candidate, MATT ROSENDALE! The Gallatin County Republican Central Committee even held a vote last February, which TOM TUCK feverishly supported, to solely support MATT ROSENDALE and his criminal cronies in the primary election.

Please help stop these criminals from doing any further damage to our beloved Montana GOP by boycotting, not only the Central Committee’s like Gallatin County, but also all future events.

 THESE CRIMINALS ARE NOT THE LEADERS WE WANT OUR CHILDREN LOOKING UP TO!

 Thank you and God Bless!

Sincerely,

Montanans on the Issues

Posted: April 17, 2014 at 7:34 pm

New Report: MT Loses $1.8 Million Every Day Thanks to TEA Party Legislators

A new report by the Montana Budget and Policy Center released today indicates that Montana is missing out on millions of dollars every day, in addition to thousands of jobs, by not expanding the state’s Medicaid program so more Montanans can gain health coverage.

Because TEA Party obstructionists in the Montana legislature voted down a bipartisan measure to accept federal funds to pay for health care for the working poor, Montana has been losing as much as $1.84 million of federal funds every day.

The report also found that Montana’s economy is losing $1.3 million in increased labor productivity from the 12,000 jobs that expansion would create. This increased labor income would also help generate $135,205 in state and local tax revenue every day.

Says the MBPC:

Medicaid expansion is an important opportunity for our state, and every day it is delayed Montana loses out on millions of dollars that could be used to create jobs, support our economy, and provide health care coverage to 70,000 low-income Montanans.

You can download the full report here.

Posted: April 17, 2014 at 7:25 pm

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.

Posted: April 17, 2014 at 6:58 am

Montana Lawmaker Says He Will Join Armed Rebellion in Nevada

More than five thousand gun-wielding, yellow flag waiving TEA Partiers and Montana militia members are descending on a small town called Bunkerville to fight the federal government.

Kerry White headshot
TEA Party Republican Rep. Kerry White of Bozeman, MT

No, its not a scene from the next Dinesh D’Souza movie flop, it’s actually happening in the town of Bunkerville, Nevada– an hour North of Las Vegas.   Now, TEA Party Republican Rep. Kerry White (R-Bozeman) posted on his Facebook page that he plans to join them.

White, who is the brother of Gallatin County Commissioner Steve White, has considered running for Governor on the GOP ticket in the past.  It’s not known whether he’s still considering that office. Here’s his Facebook post:

KerryBundy

At issue is one man’s refusal to follow the law like his neighbors have done and stop illegally grazing on federal land.  The rancher, a man named Cliven Bundy, has racked up $1.2 million in fines and unpaid grazing fees since 1993–but says he is special and needn’t follow the law like everyone else because his ancestors homesteaded in the area.

So the BLM, as is standard practice, began confiscating Bundy’s cattle to sell to pay some of the unpaid fees. This is no different than what happens to anyone who doesn’t pay their mortgage or their taxes for many years.  The government or bank has the right to foreclose because the person didn’t uphold her or his end of the deal.

As BBC News reported, many of these protesters are armed and have threatened to use deadly force to stop the government from doing its job.  A Montana militia member told reporters:

“That is what we do. We provide armed response,” Jim Lardy with Operation Mutual Aid said.

Lardy came from Montana to join the protesters, and he says he is not afraid to shoot, if necessary.

“They have guns. We need guns to protect ourselves from the tyrannical government,” Lardy said.

He says other militia members are joining him.

“There is many more coming,” Lardy said

Here’s another Montana militia member:

“We’re all in this together,” said Rick Lovelien, 50, a militia member from Libby, Mont., with the Montana State Defense Force.

One protestor even admitted they had plans to put women and children at the front of the crowd so they would be among the first casualties if violence broke out.  So these are the kinds of people that are involved.

The rancher is even urging sheriffs across the US to disarm federal law enforcement officials, Reuters reported.

An official with a group that tracks extremist and hate groups said the call by Cliven Bundy to disarm federal law enforcement with agencies like the BLM is equivalent to calling for an armed rebellion against the U.S. government.

The federal government, siting safety concerns for BLM staff and members of the public, have cancelled the cattle collection for the time being.  The situation remains worrisome for many reasons.  Dallas Hyland writes in Utah’s St George News that this could be the start of a growing trend:

The stand-down was necessary to prevent bloodshed, but it must be recognized that if Bundy and a multitude of his supporters, militia friends, and even family members who broke the law, are allowed to go unpunished, anarchy will follow. Other groups, emboldened by the appearance of forcing a stand-down, will only continue to gain momentum. And furthermore, law enforcement as a whole will be rendered impotent as average people with disputes with current laws begin to wonder if they too can call a militia in to force the police to leave them alone.

And even though the federal government is standing down for now, an update to the TEA Partier’s Facebook page includes an update that White has plans to postpone his trip to when the federal government returns, presumably so that he can get in on the action.

Kerry White Facebook page

 

Kerry White’s opponents are democrats Christopher Burke, a West Yellowstone businessman, and CJ Monteith.  The district is not dominated by Republican voters, like some in outer Gallatin County are, but contains about half dems and half repubs–so this kind of behavior will hurt White rather than help him.

Posted: April 16, 2014 at 7:11 am

GUEST POST: Why I’m Running

[This is a guest post from the second of a series of pieces submitted by the U.S. Senate candidates.  Still to come, a guest post by John Walsh.  The Cowgirl Blog welcomes editorial submissions from candidates in other races and from guest writers, and any other content readers might enjoy. In addition, I'm considering a new policy. Subject to my discretion I will post Republican/conservative opinion pieces as well.]

I am running in the Democrat primary for the Montana U.S. Senate seat because facing and overcoming the current challenges to our nation’s progress on improving the lives of our citizens calls for boldness, courage, and new approaches. I have a rare background that I think makes me the right person at the right time to go to work for Montana and our nation. I know ranching and agriculture, and I know finance. As a Harvard-trained attorney, I know the law. I understand education and technology. My values are Democratic ones, and frankly, I think, American ones, and they include social and economic justice and the desire for a functional, uncorrupted political and governmental system.

Wrongs done to our citizens and wrong-headed policies drove me into the political arena. Continue reading

Posted: April 15, 2014 at 6:53 am

REPORT: Montana Elections Among Best Run in Nation

A recent report released by The Pew Charitable Trusts ranks Montana elections as the 11th best in the nation under Secretary of State Linda McCulloch. The report also calls for implementation of McCulloch’s plan for online voter registration, which would make access to voting a lot easier.

Montana has ranked in the top of the nation for the past two federal election cycles. Under McCulloch’s leadership, the state has been recognized for expanding its use of electronic voter information tools, adding post-election audits, and increasing the accessibility and accuracy of military and overseas citizen ballots.

Online voter registration in the era of online banking, shopping, and everything else is a no-brainer. Twenty states already have it. But luddites (and those who don’t want more people to vote) in the Montana legislature have repeatedly blocked McCulloch’s proposal to implement online voter registration and instead continue to introduce bills to make it more difficult to vote in hopes of suppressing votes from young people, women, working families and people of color–people less likely to support Republicans.

McCulloch shows up personally to oppose every single bill to restrict voting rights, for which she is to be commended. Republicans legislators forced a referendum on the November ballot to repeal same day voter registration in Montana and restrict the amount of time available to Montanans to register and vote.

Posted: April 14, 2014 at 7:42 am

TEA Party Leader Seeks School Board Seat

Embattled Great Falls TEA Party leader Cyndi Baker is running for Great Falls School Board, the Great Falls Tribune reports.

The candidacy is odd because Baker has been vocally opposed to school funding. When Baker ran unsuccessfully for city commissioner a few years back, she made her opposition to public schools the centerpiece of her campaign.

Cyndi Baker (left) and former (but ousted) Rep. Cleve Loney R-TEA-Great Falls (right, now a candidate again)) at a TEA Party Rally in Great FallsAs a Great Falls City Commission candidate Baker, who campaigned against school district spending, then turned around and sought a district paycheck. Continue reading

Posted: April 11, 2014 at 4:58 pm

Sign the Petition to Stop Anti-Science, Anti-Gay Billionaire Couple from Speaking at Montana’s Best Tech School

Greg Gianforte, the billionaire tech mogul from Bozeman who apparently believes that the earth is 4,300 years old, has been invited to speak at Montana Tech’s graduation. This touched off a stir,  with stories in Montana and national press.  Students and teachers at Montana Tech are organizing a boycott.

You can sign a petition urging Montana Tech’s president to do the right thing and rescind the offer of the strange husband/wife co-speech here.  Continue reading