For years, Montana Democrats have looked for concrete proof of what many always secretly suspected: Senator Conrad Burns is hot-linked with dirty political money. Sure, Senator Burns gets unbelievable amounts of money form out-of-state corporations to run his elections, but I’m not talking about that. For those that don’t follow Montana politics, Senator Burns is closely linked with Washington money man Jack Abramoff, an individual accused of many dirty dealings.
At the beginning of this controversy, I looked mostly outside of Montana newspapers (and a lot to blogs)because most of our media seemed content in running wire copy about the incident without looking much deeper. The Billings Gazette (the largest newspaper in Billings, our state’s largest urban area) has done a series of in-depth articles on the subject.
An editorial in yesterday’s Great Falls Tribune (the paper of my hometown, which proudly boasts a Pulitzer Prize…but that’s another story) suggests that those pesky politicians are up to their dirty tricks again and shockingly suggests that a petty dispute between Montana Republicans and populist-minded Governor Brian Schweitzer concerning the finances of this year’s Governor’s Ball is on par with the Democrats demanding answers in what could be one of the largest ethics investigations in congressional history. Huh?
A couple of thoughts…
–The Tribune is right. The inaugural ball issue is straight fluff. It’s amusing to watch people fight over it, but it’s not a real issue. I can’t imagine what the Montana Republicans hope to gain from pushing this issue, but let them continue to complain about it.
–Why are we giving a free pass to Burns on this? I would think that Montana newspapers would fight to get to the bottom of this: whether Burns is guilty of ethics violations or not.
–A post by Montana blogger Bob Brigham really says it best: why isn’t the Tribune digging in the archives back to when Burns was talking about the stink of politics? Didn’t he promise only two terms back in 1988? Why aren’t these questions being asked?
The story gets old. A Democrat utters something at a party in 1977 and someone’s misinterpretation of those comments becomes a campaign issue. Irony hits a Republican in the head with a brick and we hear crickets. Liberal media? Indeed.