Rehberg Staffer Randy Vogel’s Fascinating Defense

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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.

About the author

Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba is a eighteen-year teacher of English, former debate coach, and loyal, if often sad, fan of the San Diego Padres and Portland Timbers. He spends far too many hours of his life working at school and on his small business, Big Sky Debate.

His work has appeared in Politico and Rewire.

In the past few years, travel has become a priority, whether it’s a road trip to some little town in Montana or a museum of culture in Ísafjörður, Iceland.

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  • Pogie, welcome back!!!! I had given you up for a dead blog. I thought no amount of rhetorical Viagra would put the lead back in your pencil.

    It seems that the wardens showed up at his house about 2 months after the alleged incident. Seems possible to me someone might sell their rifle in that time. Let’s see how this unfolds with other witness statements.

  • BTW, that green guy next to my name looks a little fussed up. Perhaps you could change it to something more hope and change like?

  • Well, for my money, this is NOT an issue that I would use to beat up Denny. I think that Vogel is a well-respected ex-Billings police officer. So, why go there? The other thing is that many, many Montanans were RAISED on poached deer! Leaving game behind is very bad. But poaching is a way to put meat on the table. Always has been. Hell, I’ve done it myself! And so has damn near everyone I know who is my age. When people are hungry, they’re gonna poach deer! So, the big sin here is leaving game behind. If Vogel did this, criticize him. But ferchrissakes, leave Denny out of it. He didn’t do it! You look like a complete loser to do so.

    • I totally disagree. In fact, Latest article, in Missoulian posted this evening, Vogel is claiming he sold the gun at a gun show. How very smart. An anonymous sale, no checks, no records.
      The latest rumor now is that in fact they had tracked down the gun. Has anyone else heard this? “If that is true, Vogel is F–d. He’ll not only have to plead, but he’ll have to admit he lied to the press and to authorities. That’ll probably land him a few days in the pokie, no?”

  • I won’t play into the rumour mill. And I won’t use a subordinate’s action to hammer a politician in this case. I think that Vogel’s actions are wholey his own. Was Denny there? If he’s found guilty, so be it. There are TOO many things to hammer Denny on that he has done himself. I think that it angers people when we start hitting a politico with the actions of others. Just my opinion.

    And one more point. We’ve got the OJ deal goin’ on here. That blacks all sympathized with OJ in SPITE of the evidence to the contrary. Everyone who has ever been wronged by the fish and game is going to sympathize with Vogel, and I think that that is no small number. Those guys can be pretty arrogant. Again, I would allow it to play out and stay completely out of it. This is NOT an opening for a knockout punch against Denny. To think that it is is counterproductive.

  • p.s. I’m not tring to anger anyone with my opinion. We all come from different stratas of society. I’m just sayin’ that in hard scrabble town, folks might have a different take on all this.

  • I hear ya, and I agree. Vogel looks all the world to be a slob hunter. But my point is that people view poaching differently. In hardscrabble town, results are more important than process. Poached deer taste just as good as legal deer! Folks out here have hunting rifles and also poaching rifles. (the less noisy kind) No one thinks anything of it. In fact, poaching secrets are exchanged like recipes! That’s why I say that I wouldn’t hit Denny too hard on this issue, because you’re simply playing into his hands. Many of his base are hardscrabble folks.

    Peace Sister

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