To some extent, I have to admire Randy Vogel, the top Rehberg aide accused of poaching an elk in November. He seems to work harder than his boss, offering not one, but two credibility straining statements to the press to explain the charges against him.
Statement number one? He’s being framed by political enemies of Representative Rehberg:
In an interview Thursday with The Associated Press, Vogel denied the allegations and said the timing of the citations "was suspicious."
He also said an audio recording of Rehberg’s Democratic opponent, Dennis McDonald, talking about the investigation before it was made public was proof the allegations were being used for political purposes. McDonald spoke about the allegations at a March 3 Democratic event in Yellowstone County.
Vogel, a former police officer in Billings, has apparently decided that it’s appropriate to cast aspersions about the character of wardens in the Fish, Wildlife and Parks Department, suggesting they are advancing the political aims of the Democratic machine in Montana. Classy, Randy.
Statement number two? The gun he was using that day has disappeared:
"They said they had found a round in the elk, a .270," he said.
Vogel said that by that time, he had sold the weapon for $350 to an anonymous buyer at a gun show.
I’m certain that Vogel would have believed that story when he was a police officer. It’s certainly a convenient excuse—not to mention an argument for tighter restrictions at gun shows.
Finally, it’s certainly amusing to parse the remarks offered by Vogel’s lawyer today:
Lovell said Vogel intends to plead not guilty in his initial court appearance next week.
“I can adamantly assure you that not only is he presumed innocent, but we are going to vigorously contest these charges,” he said.
I certainly hope if I ever need a lawyer to defend me in a criminal matter that he’ll be able to say more than that I am “presumed” innocent.