Montana Politics

The Circus at the PSC Continues…


Republican Commissioners Bill Gallagher, Travis Kavulla, and Brad Molnar continued the very important work of attacking each other and trading ethics violations allegations at today’s Public Service Commission meeting. Once again, a work session was called by Commissioner Gallagher to discuss “whether Commissioner Kavulla’s trip to Las Vegas to meet with utility investors may have been in violation of PSC rules or other applicable rules.”

In today’s continuance of a previous work session, Commissioner Kavulla presented a memo answering the questions he deemed relevant to Commissioner Gallagher’s concerns about the trip. Following another contentious debate and an accusation by Commissioner Molnar that the PSC was “breaking the law” by voting, Kavulla’s questions were accepted on a 3-2 vote.

I honestly don’t think there is much to the allegations being raised by Gallagher and Molnar; they strike me as nothing more than an attempt to get back at Kavulla for the battle over the chairmanship. I’m not convinced that visiting with utility investors is an appropriate trip for a PSC commissioner to take, but there’s little evidence that the speaking engagement violated the law or PSC rules.

That being said, voters deserve to know about these competing claims—and the press should cover them.

The media’s in a hard spot here, I realize. Gallagher is making a series of allegations without much substantiation, but the continued infighting is newsworthy, as is Gallagher’s choice to spend this much PSC time pursuing Commissioner Kavulla. Commissioner Kavulla referred to the ongoing work sessions “attempts to obstruct [the PSC] and defame a member of the Commission.” Even conceding that this claim slipped into the hyperbolic, repeated, ongoing accusations by and about public officials of law breaking, obstruction and defamation deserve coverage.

About the author

Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba is a seventeen-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.


  • One would THINK that Kafoola would at LEAST be smart enough (he’s a genieus you know) to AVOID the appearance of impropriety for god’s sake!  But nooo.  Not Travis.  He don’t CARE who knows that he’s industry’s  child.  Pretty darn bold of him, but not real bright.  But then again, that’s pretty much the way I always had him figured.  Regardless of what you think of Gallagher, he’s bringing the real Kafoola to the fore with his prodding.  And that’s a good thing.

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