Donald Trump Greg Gianforte Legislature Montana Politics Rob Quist Special Election

Loose ends: Mail-in Ballots, Quist, Zinke and More

Written by Pete Talbot
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Let them eat cake.

That seems to be the mantra of the Republican-controlled Montana Legislature.

Case in point: the mail-in ballot bill, SB 305. It was tabled yesterday by the House Judiciary Committee — where Republicans send bills to die — along a party line vote. After a hearing last week in which county commissioners, election officials and Montana citizens testified on behalf of the bill, a motion was made by Rep. Virginia Court (D-Billings) to force a vote.

But a substitute motion was proposed by Rep. Theresa Manzella (R-Hamilton) to table the bill, and that passed 11-8.

So, against the wishes of 54 out of 56 Montana counties, it looks like it will be standard fare for the May special election — polling places with election judges present, costing an additional $500,000 or more, to be paid for by the counties.

This bill could be blasted out to the House floor but I doubt it. Plus, time’s a wastin’ to get the ballots printed and distributed.

In defense of Rob Quist

Quist has been taking it in the shorts lately from Billings Gazette reporter Tom Lutey. Former U.S. House candidate and current Missoula County Clerk and Recorder, Tyler Gernant, had this to say about some of the accusations:

This story by Tom Lutey has something that troubles me, but probably not in the way that most people would assume. I get that the debts and liens are a story of interest, in fact I think it actually makes him more relatable to most Montanans. The part that bothers me is Rob Quist drawing a salary from the campaign. The article says that the practice “isn’t illegal”. To be clear, the practice not only “isn’t illegal”, it is completely legal and was passed with the specific intention of inducing people like Rob Quist to run for public office. http://billingsgazette.com/…/article_a660f016-9229-5e3c-911…

The FEC passed a change to the rules allowing candidates to draw a salary in 2002. The express purpose for passing the rule was to encourage candidates that were not independently wealthy to run for office. To be clear, the rule has not worked. Most candidates for federal office are still quite wealthy. The reason is that you have to be wealthy or willing to go deep into debt to run a successful campaign for federal office. Campaigning is more than a full time job. Life doesn’t go away when you run for office, you still have to pay your mortgage, power bill, and oh yeah, you need to eat too. Unfortunately, you don’t have time to work and run for office. The rule only allows you to take a salary at the lesser of the job you held before running or the salary of the office you are seeking. There is no extravagance in paying yourself what you were making before you had to quit to run for office. In fact, it is quit noble to put yourself at such financial risk for the sake of serving the public.

Now if Greg Gianforte starts paying himself a salary, I think we would all have cause for concern. He is independently wealthy and is expressly the kind of candidate that the FEC was trying to avoid in passing this rule. The simple fact is that Congress needs fewer millionaires in office, not more. I hope that Tom Lutey does a follow-up on this part of his story, because he did a severe injustice to Montana when he wrote his flippant comment. It’s not that it “isn’t illegal” to encourage typical people to run for office, it’s the whole damn point of the law.

I’m sure we can expect a follow up from Lutey any day.

Trump, Zinke and the Earth

That’s our former Montana Congressman and current U.S. Interior Secretary, Ryan Zinke, looking over Trump’s right shoulder as the Donald rolls back Obama-era climate change initiatives.

“We’re going to have clean coal, really clean coal,” said the Prez. That’s like saying we’re going to have healthy methamphetamine there’s no such thing.

But keep pimping for Trump, Zinke, as he goes about destroying the planet. I’m pretty sure that’s your job description as Secretary of the Interior. Montana thanks you.

How ’bout some good news, for a change?

I really liked this story in the Great Falls Tribune, about a bunch of Browning kids visiting Washington, D.C. I can’t really tease it because the URL gives it away. There’s video and everything, though. Take a look:

http://www.greatfallstribune.com/story/news/local/2017/03/29/michelle-obama-surprises-browning-students-cultural-trip/99729250/

 

 

 

 

 

About the author

Pete Talbot

'Papa’ Pete Talbot is first and foremost a grandfather to five wonderful grandchildren. Like many Montanans, he has held numerous jobs over the years: film and video producer, a partner in a marketing and advertising firm, a builder and a property manager. He’s served on local and statewide Democratic Party boards. Pete has also been blogging at various sites for over a decade. Ping-pong and skiing are his favorite diversions. He enjoys bourbon.

3 Comments

  • Wow, Pete. So much to like and learn from your post I hardly know where to begin…so,
    I guess I’ll just say Thank You!

  • Pete, I agree with you on the campaign salary issue. While it isn’t something that is common (in fact it’s rare in Montana) I don’t have a problem with Quist drawing a small amount of compensation from his campaign fund. Amanda Curtis drew a salary in her brief run for the US Senate and she at least had a full time job. I also don’t have a problem with Tom Lutey’s accurate and journalistically fair comment that it “isn’t illegal” since many people not familiar with campaign law may have assumed the contrary.

    The salary issue isn’t going to hurt Quist and should be a non-issue unless his supporters continue to bash Lutey and make it an issue.

    Quist’s late tax payments related to his health issues will cause him some problems but will be understood by many. Most voters tend to be forgiving about reasonable financial problems. However, they are less forgiving about dishonesty. As reported in the Billing Gazette, Quist lied to his lending bank that he did not work in 2011 due to his poor health. He compounded this by lying to the reporter interviewing him.

    ”When asked by The Gazette if he had any performance income during 2011, Quist replied, “No. I did not.”

    Quist even lied to and cheated one of his own band members.

    “Riddle, in the lawsuit, said he learned of the “Private Stash” box set two years after its production. . . . . Riddle had received no royalties. After failing to collect, he sued Quist for breach of contract, negligent misrepresentation, deceit and fraud.

    Quist even stiffed his local contractor for a construction project.

    Kraig Trippel, a “Real Montana” contractor who was forced to sue when Quist refused to pay him for construction work said . . . . “the Quist”s seemed to want special treatment. Both of them, they definitely had a sense of arrogance about them, because he was doing concerts and he was a singer and yada, yada, yada . . . .And I don’t care. He’s just another dude to me.”

    After pointing out Quist “….was in good health and working in 2001”drives the nail even deeper about Quist’s character and lack of honesty when he said:

    “I’ve had people that live in a trailer house and don’t have a pot to pee in get out a shovel and try to do it themselves before calling me. If they can pay $100 or $200 a month, I’ll work with them,” Trippel said. “This wasn’t like that. And I guess I have an issue with someone not paying me for something that was being done just because it was important to pursue for that person.”

    Again, Montana voters understand and tend to be forgiving of problems brought on by health issues, but they have little forgiveness for dishonesty.

    And that bring up another issue. With Quist’s frequent comments about his sever health issues and his stated inability to work for months or years at a time due to poor health, is he even healthy enough to run and serve in public office?

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