Montana Politics

Fiscal Conservative Dennis Rehberg Costs City of Billings $21,000 in Legal Fees

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It seems Representative Rehberg only has the appearance of fiscal conservatism when it6437358163_5082a5de9a_m comes to giving tax breaks to the wealthiest of Americans and when threatening to cut Pell Grants for poor and middle class students.

When it comes to the people of his hometown, though, Mr. Rehberg is perfectly willing to waste money. It cost the City (and taxpayers) of Billings $21,000 to defend themselves against his frivolous lawsuit against firefighters:

Christie Roberts of Billings, research director for Montanans for Tester, filed a records request with the city of Billings on Monday. On Tuesday, Deputy City Attorney Craig Hensel responded by fax, saying the city spent $20,761.60 defending the case.

Hensel explained that the lawsuit was forwarded to the city’s insurance pool, the Montana Municipal Interlocal Authority, which hired Michele Braukmann, of the Moulton Bellingham law firm, to defend the city.

Hensel said the city was billed for 151.80 hours of Braukmann’s time, for a total of $20,638.50, plus $123.10 in costs.

The hypocrisy here is stunning on so many levels. A self-proclaimed champion of tort reform frivolously sues his local fire department for trying to save his property, and they’re left with the bill.

That’s your Dennis Rehberg.

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.

21 Comments

  • I honestly thought that Rehberg would be a more formidable candidate than he is. I thought the senate seat was his for the taking. He's kind of a lame ass, but this is post-9/11 America, and our politics are freaky and crazy. He might be crazy enough to win.

  • And what did Billing's decision to leave an unattended fire cost Denny, not to mention adjacent land owners?

    Here's a tip maybe the Billings Fire Dept. should use.

    "Remain With your Fire

    Stay with your fire until it is completely out. To ensure the fire has been completely extinguished, drown the fire with water, turn over the ashes with a shovel and drown it again. Repeat several times. Check the burn area regularly over the next several days and up to several weeks following the burn, especially if the weather is warm, dry, and windy."

    Courtesy of the Smokey the Bear website.

      • Oh Ingrid, you can't bullshit a bullshitter, dude! How many OTHER lawsuits were there for all the OTHER fires around Billings in the last forty years? How bout the Clapper Flats Fire? Any lawsuits there? Nope. You forget, Ingrid, I know that area as well as you. And I'm here to tell ya that only ONE little dink sued! Who was that little dink? Dopey Reeburp! You see, Ingrid, when ya CHOOSE to live in a place like Emerald Hills with NO adequate roads or fire protection, ya DON'T whine when you get burned out!

        BTW, did YOU sue when you got burned out????

        Hell, I spent more time tresspasssin' on Dopey's goat ranch than HE did! I used to run through it all the time!

        • No, but I personally saved two buildings myself when some slouches in a firetruck told me to back off.

          • You are amazing. But I knew that. Did you get any soot on the white lightning stripes on the legs of your red tights?

              • Maybe that's harsh.

                How "bout "fire watchers" or better yet "fire starters", as in back burners.

                Light on the "fighting" aspect.

                • The larger point is that you tend to be a hypocrite, and you're not unique. The whole of the "anti-Gubbmint" movement is a parade where other people higher up the food chain made your floats and banners you, put the words in your mouth.. They want government, need it, love it, but do want to get rid of those parts of government that they consider useless – those parts that actually work for regular people. But they want a big bright and shining government to protect their holdings, attack other countries for resources for them, protect them from lawsuits, grant them exclusive access to the commons (or just giving them the resources for free), and taxing working people instead of them, as their money s better money than ours.

                  You're not even wealthy, Swede, though you oddly identify with that class. but you've bought in and act like you're one of them. You do have a lot of government protection, protecting your property from intruders and making sure you have roads and courts and fire protection … And typical of whiner, get angry when you don't have enough government working for YOU.

                  Tool.

                • Your argument works better with some living north of Rimrock Mark. Not with me.

                  In the 37 years that I've lived on the end of our private road I've never needed the assistance of law enforcement or any other govt. intrusion.* We did use the counties help in planting some shelter belts to which I provided tractors and labor, got the trees and shrubs at a discount.

                  In fact no sheriff/state worker has ever driven onto the property. Party because we live on the end of our own road. I have a road grader (40's vintage) bulldozer, bobcat, tractor, back-hoe which help maintain my connection with the county road. Usually I run the grader on the counties gravel road to their blacktop just to help them out.

                  Two springs, one windmill supply the ranch with a continuous water source. Horses and cows supply transportation/meat. The wife cans (not as much as 10 years ago) with new age "earth boxes", probably a product used by clandestine pot growers. I've contracted with an apiary for the placement of beehives next to the alfalfa fields.

                  Several of our buildings have wood stoves. Combine that with 500 acres of Bull pine we can weather power outages with relative ease.

                  All this adds to my independence/aversion to governmental "cheese". Stalin knew farmers were a independent lot, hence their persecution and banishment from land ownership. Che murdered farmers by the hundreds. Mugabee confiscated family farms and his people starved.

                  Of course a starving populous is easier to control.

                  *firefighter did more damage with their backfires and overly cautious actions.

                • All very impressive, seriously, except that you don't know dick about Che or who murdered who down there. But that's an impressive self-reliance life you've put together. My compliments.

  • Good starting point. We can stipulate to the $21,000. Perhaps we could compare total taxpayer expenditures — you know, how about we examine the various ways both candidates allocate taxpayer dollars. Who's best at tapping the treasury? How much is each one costing us per year? Wouldn't that be fun?

  • As somebody who lives in Billings, I can tell you that the Rehbergs had a legitimate claim, aggravated by our city's administration and their 'Just Sue Us" mentality that has cost the city huge amounts of money over the last decade. Our city will never admit fault, push it into court, lose, and then whine about it.

    It's really funny to see a pseudo-intellectual like Pogie, living in Helena, act like he knows anything about this subject.

    No harm done – fortunately Denny is running away with his Senate race.

    BTW – Larry Kralj – when were you ever hiking out at Rehberg Ranch – I thought you were a jogger, not a hiker – LOL

    • I lived in Billings, too, Eric…and I'm not a pseudo-intellectual. I'm just a lot smarter than you.

      If the Rehbergs had a claim, surely they would have pursued it, given that the political damage had already been done.

      The evidence is clear. The Rehbergs were so unconcerned about the danger of fire that they left their own property that day to attend a political event. Surely a rugged individualist and critic of government spending can't approve of the idea that the nanny-state government needed to protect their land when they couldn't be bothered to monitor it themselves?

      Not only did the firefighters carry water for the Rehbergs; they have people like you to do it as well.

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