Montana Politics

Representative Rehberg’s Financial Woes Continue

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I actually hoped to go a full 48 hours without writing or thinking about Representative Rehberg, but today’s story in Roll Call made that absolutely impossible. Somehow, Representative Rehberg has decided that his land in Yellowstone County is worth 80% less than it was just last year:

Rep. Denny Rehberg’s fortunes plummeted by more than 80 percent in 2010, according to newly released financial disclosure forms, as the Montana lawmaker devalued ranch land damaged in a 2008 wildfire.
The Republican lawmaker — who has announced he is running for Senate — reported sharp reductions in the minimum value of his two largest assets, Rehberg Ranch and Rehberg Ranch Land and Livestock, which had been listed at a minimum worth of $5 million each in 2009.
In his newest report, Rehberg lists the minimum values of Rehberg Ranch at $1 million and Rehberg Ranch Land and Livestock at $500,000.

To be clear, Rehberg is claiming that a fire on undeveloped land which took place BEFORE his 2009 financial disclosure forms were submitted and a downturn in the real estate market caused the value of the land he owns to drop by 80%. That must have been one hell of a fire.

Assuming that other real estate in the Billings area hasn’t seen an 80% reduction in value (something I assume we would have heard mention of), the obvious implication is that the Rehbergs plan to collect big dollars from the city of Billings and its Fire Department in their frivolous lawsuit.

From my vantage point, it looks a lot like someone who decided to sell his family’s legacy for a quick buck during the real estate boom and now wants the taxpayers of Billings to bail him out for his mistakes.

Remember what Rehberg said when he cast his politically-motivated vote against the Wall Street bailout? He told the Flathead Beacon:

“Are we asking the general taxpayer to solve an issue that was created by someone else?” Rehberg, Montana’s lone congressman, asked in a conference call with reporters. “I looked at the legislation; I came to the conclusion ‘yes’.”

It seems like it takes a special kind of hypocrite to come asking the taxpayers to bail him out of his own failure.

Update: Montana Cowgirl has the financial reports posted.

If you look at Rehberg’s latest 2010 Personal Financial Disclosure compared to the one he filed in 2009 you’ll find that the corporate entity known as “Rehberg Ranch Land & Livestock” dropped from a minimum value of $5 million to maximum value of $1 million.

Here’s the problem,  the only corporation filing for fire damages in the lawsuit is Rehberg Ranch, LLC – that’s a different company than Rehberg Ranch, Land, & Livestock LLC.

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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