Representative Rehberg’s Unchecked Hypocrisy Continues: Spending Like a Drunken Sailor!

Google News serendipitously sent me two items about Dennis Rehberg simultaneously, one showing his staunch support for the Tea Party Movement and its critique of federal spending, the other showing Rehberg’s penchant for incredible, breathtaking hypocrisy.’

Rehberg hates spending:

Montana Congressman Denny Rehberg released a statement in reaction to the "new age" tea parties saying, "Montanans are understandably outraged at the dangerously irresponsible spending in Washington, D.C. The tea parties springing up around the nation exemplify that anger, and I hear their message loud and clear".

Rehberg loves spending:

. . .when it comes to spending tax dollars, sunlight is the best weapon against waste. That’s why I’m taking government transparency to a new level by posting on my website every documented request for funding received by my office. I’m also forwarding all of those requests to the House Appropriations Committee so they can be closely scrutinized.

Representative Rehberg wants to have it both ways. Despite his fiscal ‘conservatism’, he is forwarding every request to the Appropriations Committee, which will let him tell every constituent group he supported their request. I somehow doubt as much sunshine will be cast on the closed door meetings when Rehberg and his staff decided which of these proposals they will actually fight for (or slip in) during the budgeting process.

What did fiscal conservative Dennis Rehberg submit to the Appropriations Committee? Requests for:

  • $4.7 million to American Chemet to ‘develop a bioavailability model for copper in estuarine marine waters (Maybe Dennis should look at a map sometime)
  • $650,00 for Rehberg’s favorite charity and travel agent, the Montana World Trade Center
  • $1 million to Montana Opticom to somehow bring fiber optic technology to every classroom(where?) (Not bad for $20,000 in lobbying)
  • $500,000 for the Billing Clinic to install security measures (Total requests from the Billings Clinic? A cool $2.85 million)
  • $60,000 to East Helena to hire a police officer (Who will pay after the first year, I wonder?)
  • $1.3 million for the Jefferson Local Development Corporation (This must be the free market I keep hearing about)
  • $1.0 million for the Montana Aerospace Development Association (Again, a map might be handy)
  • $20 million over two years to Synesis7 in Butte
  • $9 million to Resodyn (You all remember Resodyn, right?)
  • $25 million to the Columbia River Channel Coalition (Don’t Oregon and Washington have members of Congress?)
  • $500,000 for the Bozeman Symphony Orchestra to “create a plethora of activities that would inspire and entertain local audiences”
  • $706, 750 for the Missoula Community Performing Arts Center, to do much the same, I imagine

Certainly all of these requests will not be approved, but that’s hardly the point. Representative Rehberg has built his career on the pork he has brought back to Montana (especially its agricultural sector and Montana State University), so it’s more than a bit troubling when continually claims to be some kind of fiscal conservative. It’s especially galling, as Dennis McDonald notes, when  he runs around the state trumpeting spending he voted against.

It’s time for Representative Rehberg’s supporters to start asking themselves a few questions:

  • Why do so many private companies need federal largesse, if Rehberg is a champion of the free market?
  • Why does he support earmarks not even designed to benefit our state?
  • How can Rehberg claim to be a fiscal conservative when he keeps spending your tax dollars for programs that cannot sustain themselves?
If you appreciate an independent voice holding Montana politicians accountable and informing voters, and you can throw a few dollars a month our way, we would certainly appreciate it.

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About the author

Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba has been writing about Montana politics since 2005 and teaching high school English since 2000. He's a 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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  • Wow! Poigie. You are really getting wound up. Your two rants on Rehberg remind me of the caricature TV preacher in the pulpit thundering fire and brimstone. So, Rehberg submits requests for consideration to a Dem controlled Appropriations committee. Is that Dem controlled committee, and the larger Dem controlled House, incapable of making choices that serve the people? Do you really think it is some right-wing conspiracy to help fund fiber optics in the classroom or arts organizations? Isn't the appropriations process about gathering requests from House members and then making decisions? I just can't accept your suggestion that Montana would be better served by a representative that requested "O" for consideration. Is that what a Montana Dem would do?????

  • Some more keen insight, Craig. Maybe you can commend Rehberg's awesome double standard at some Tea Party rally?

    Did you glance at the 58 pages of requests that Rehberg submitted? Should our Representative be submitting millions of dollars for private industries that contribute to his campaign and the Republican Party? Should he be submitting requests that benefit other states? You can't be against wasteful government spending while you're at the trough every year, looking to reward the same people.

    We all know what's going to happen here. Behind closed doors, Rehberg is going to push for those items that benefit him the most politically.

    I'd compare the quality of my rant to that juvenile dishonest defense of Rehberg that the Montana GOP came up with any day.

  • Pogie, remember Jon Tester: "The current process of earmarking in the middle of the night, without transparency, is the wrong way for representative democracy to be working. Good projects, like this land-grant university, can stand up to the scrutiny of the light of day. Quite frankly, I don’t support earmarks, period." Source: 2006 Montana 3-way Senate Debate at MSU Oct 9, 2006.

    How many earmarks did Tester vote for in the Stimulus bill? 1000's? What about Max? Are you demanding a recall for their behavior? Are you writing multiple columns attacking them or is this just blatant partisan politics?

  • A couple of thoughts.

    1) As it turns out, I am not writing a news column here. I am writing a blog, and I am clearly partisan. That being said, I have criticized Democrats (especially Baucus) in the past. Try the search function.

    2) Rehberg's hypocrisy and dishonesty are especially egregious, even for a politician. Taylor's column today and Rehberg's behavior regarding the money he brings back to Montana without actually voting for it are examples worth commenting on, and I did so.

    3) Personally, I think Rehberg is a joke and does a poor job of representing the state. Part of the reason I write this blog is to encourage a few people to consider not voting for him, because behind the press releases, he certainly doesn't have the interests of the average Montanan at heart.

    4) If you want to see criticism of Baucus and Tester, maybe some of the conservatives blogs in Montana should move past using MS Paint and recycling ideas from national blogs. I have a lot of conservative Montana blogs in my newsreader, but I'm certainly not seeing much content coming out of them.

  • It's your blog. Your rules. Your POV. No objection from me. But without context and contrast to other Montana representatives holding important office back in DC, it strikes me only as a one-sided partisan rant. Kind of like taking a jar of lightning bugs and giving them a good shake in the dark. The luminescence is interesting but not very enlightening.

  • I look forward to you holding conservative blogs to the same standard of objectivity. 🙂

    I do have to admit, though, my task is easier. Senators Tester and Baucus, while no doubt flawed, are much better representatives of Montana than Mr. Rehberg.

  • Time to put thin in perspective. Much of the above is not even funded. And while I do believe Mr. Rehberg needs to remember where he comes from and who he represents. Mr. Baucus has long since forgot. The recent $64,000,000 award to kill jobs in the Gallatin County area. This total is more ant all of the the others list on this page. It went to one company based in Pennsylvania. This is to supposedly provide Internet to under serviced areas. Well if you call 7 competing vendors under serviced then I guess it is. I should know I am President of a company that has covered this are for over 9 years. In the area outlined there are companies that have provided service here for many years. These companies have to compete for each and every customer and make enough to build coverage and pay employees. In much of the area listed there are as many as 5 or 6 companies with coverage. These companies include: Verizon, Qwest, Bresnan, Global Net, Transaria, BridgeBand, Wisp West and Little Apple. All Private and all compete. Global Net, Transaria, BridgeBand, Wisp West and Little Apple are all Montanan companies. Now we are forced to compete with government subsidized operations as well. When will the government ever become accountable for the money it is throwing away in the name of the under-privileged and stimulus packages. This is not creating jobs it is killing the existing.

    This is not helping Montana or Montana business it is killing it.

  • Today, while I was at work, my sister stole my iphone and tested to see if it can survive a twenty five foot drop, just so she can be a youtube sensation. My iPad is now broken and she has 83 views. I know this is totally off topic but I had to share it with someone!

  • Hello, I think your blog might be having browser compatibility issues. When I look at your blog site in Ie, it looks fine but when opening in Internet Explorer, it has some overlapping. I just wanted to give you a quick heads up! Other then that, great blog!

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