An Open Records Request for Dee Brown

Charles Johnson reported yesterday that Representative Dee Brown, who has not even listened to the September 12 meeting of the Public Employees’ Retirement Board, is considering asking its members to turn over their text and e-mails because she is worried about “shenanigans going on at this meeting that aren’t open to the public purview.” Depending on what she learns, Brown said she may formally request the emails and texts and would do so on her own, not on behalf of the committee. “I may make a request,” Brown said. “I’m hoping that they would just voluntarily give it to me. I’m not going to go at great personal expense to do it.” I, too, share Ms. Brown’s concern about shenanigans occurring at public meetings and policymaking groups, and I agree that it would be best for those involved to “voluntarily” turn over their personal texts and e-mails from those meetings. To that end, and because as a taxpayer, I pay for Ms. Brown’s laptop during the session, I would like to request all e-mails and text messaged she received during the 2013 Legislative session. Continue Reading →

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Expanded Castle Doctrine Strikes Again and Again

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For a party that claims to represent law and order, the Montana Republican Party has certainly done some real damage to the ability of law enforcement officers to arrest and prosecutors to convict those who kill other people using firearms. As a result of 2009 Legislature’s passage of HB 228, it’s very difficult for prosecutors to convict anyone who asserts “self-defense” as a justification for killing someone else. In the 2009 session, TEA Party legislators like Krayton Kerns carried a bill for Gary Marbut and the NRA which made it much easier to kill without fear of conviction. Back then, Marbut sent out a celebratory e-mail criticizing “the few law enforcement administrators and prosecutors who are so afraid of armed citizens that they lied and claimed end-of-life-on-Earth in opposing HB 228.”

The resulting cases of unprosecuted gun assaults was more than predictable, it was predicted by those who testified against the bill back in 2009. As jhwygirl noted back then, the list of opponents included law enforcement officials and those who protect the rights of those threatened by violence. Those in opposition included:

Montana Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence
Montana Association of Chiefs of Police
Montana Police Protective Association
Montana County Attorney’s Association
Montana Sheriff’s and Peace Officers Association
Montana Human Rights Network
The Associated Students of Montana State University
The Associated Students of the University of Montana

Even the typically very conservative Daily Interlake opined that the revised Montana castle doctrine law would make it easier to get away with murder:
As worded now, there is just too much opportunity for manipulation of the law by those who wish to do evil. Continue Reading →

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Montana Political Quick Takes: Zinke Announcement, Rosendale Tin Foil, Empowered Legislature, Road Kill, and More

In a speech so cliché-laden that Peggy Noonan is considering suing, to a crowd almost numbering dozens, Ryan Zinke announced his candidacy for the US House today in Billings. While I couldn’t make it through the riveting video of the event, I’m told that Zinke neither water boarded anyone nor revealed American military secrets at today’s event. I suspect he also failed to mention signing this truly insane pledge back in 2012. I will give Zinke credit for chutzpah, though. It takes a hell of a lot for someone who volunteered as Neil Livingstone’s running mate to talk about restoring trust to government. Continue Reading →

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Champ Edmunds Exhibits Bold Leadership, Takes Shot at Steve Daines

While there may be no more hapless campaign for federal office in 2014 than that of Champ Edmunds, it’s certainly worth discussing his press release today which simultaneously demonstrated the futility of his campaign and a real problem Steve Daines will face from the right wing of his party if he pursues a Senate race. In a PR decision that defies logic, the Edmunds campaign released a press release today entitled “Rep. Champ Edmunds Considers Staying in the U.S. Senate Race.” In it, Edmunds writes:
“Montanans deserve a conservative candidate. I am a true and proven conservative with a legislative record that clearly reflects where I stand now and where I will  stand in the future.”

“When I announced my candidacy to represent Montana in the United States Senate, I said that should Congressman Daines at some point seek this same seat, then I would step aside and become a candidate for Montana’s lone congressional seat.”

“As I listen to folks from around the state react to what has transpired in Washington D.C., I am forced to rethink my previous offer.”
While this bold profile in courage certainly won’t make a difference for Edmunds, the sentiment expressed in the press release does represent a real challenge for Daines. By voting to end the government shutdown after railing against “Obamacare,” Daines put himself in the unenviable position of being wrong twice—once among rational voters who saw through his effort to hold the country hostage and once among the irrational right of his party, who actually believe that pursuing a quixotic struggle against the Affordable Care Act justified threatening or even crashing the global economy. PSC Commissioner (and certified kook) Roger Koopman has already joined in the criticism of Daines, writing:
Alas, these “summer soldiers and sunshine patriots” have no true conviction at all — only preferences that wax and wane with the latest political calculation. Continue Reading →

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Over. For Now….

Phew. The partial government shutdown is over and the US is no longer on the brink of default. Once again we have not fallen over a fiscal cliff. This story is becoming a bit redundant… Every September and October, millions of Americans collectively “facepalm” as Congress creates a mockery of an institution. An institution that (in recent years) just can’t manage to accomplish anything. Continue Reading →

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Perennial Candidate Corey Stapleton Gets Slapped Down in ATP Decision

While I imagine there will be a lot of ink (virtual and real) spent discussing the Commissioner of Political Practice’s decision today outlining the fraudulent and criminal behavior of American Tradition Partnership and its bought and paid for legislative candidates, I was particularly struck by a reference to Congressional candidate Corey Stapleton, who received special attention in the decision: In other words, Motl ruled that campaign treasurer Corey Stapleton was so negligent in his duties that a potential legal remedy could be to bar him from seeking future elective office in Montana. For a career politician, that would be a serious—and warranted—penalty. That Stapleton would either lack oversight or ethics in his campaign fundraising comes as little surprise to those of us who closely followed his bid for the governor’s chair in 2012. Back then, the Stapleton campaign was blatantly abusing loose “pass the hat” campaign regulations to either collect more money than they were allowed to or to pass off donations they couldn’t otherwise explain as legitimate. The Republican field for the U.S House is beginning to sound like the beginning of a bad joke: a self-promoting Californian, Sarah Palin in a flattop, and a crook meet in a bar… Sounds like the Republicans are getting the field of candidates they (and not we) deserve. Continue Reading →

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Ryan Zinke “Exploring” a House Run

The groundswell of support from his totally independent Super PAC seems to have persuaded Ryan Zinke that he should seriously consider running for the US House, as he announced the formation of an exploratory committee to consider his run. Should be interesting to see Zinke win in what promises to be a rabidly right-wing fight, given his love for compromise and middle ground politics. After all, he told the Portland Tribune in May that he considers himself a moderate:
He is writing a book titled, “The Rise of the Middle.” “I take the middle of the political spectrum,” Zinke says. “Middle America is us. Continue Reading →

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Is Ryan Zinke’s Sleazy Super PAC Just a Front Group for His House Race?

You have to give Ryan Zinke credit: he’s always working an angle to promote himself. During the 2012 Presidential election, he founded a truly despicable front group called Special Operations for America which used dark money donations to attack President Obama. Now that same organization is is launching an Astroturf campaign to “draft” Zinke to run for the U.S. House from Montana. On October 4,  Zinke stepped down from his position as Chairman of the Super PAC. Today, one week later, SOFA, an organization that doesn’t even have an active web site any longer and one that has not announced a replacement for Mr. Zinke, used its Facebook page to promote Zinke’s candidacy for the U.S. House. Continue Reading →

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