News Coverage and Livingstone Campaign Both MIA

Two things seem to be on life support in Montana: the futile Livingstone/Zinke gubernatorial campaign and a functioning political press.

It’s apparent that Neil Livingstone has no intention to seriously contest Rick Hill’s bid for the Republican nomination. He hasn’t updated his campaign web page since August, has had few public events, and worst of all, hasn’t provided an updated weekly recipe for 101 days.

At this point, it seems far more likely that the Fox News analyst was doing what many suspected, getting his name out in the public’s mind before an attempted bid for Max Baucus’s Senate seat in 2014.

That strategy seems to have both succeeded and failed for Livingstone. It’s failed, because the press in Montana hasn’t covered his campaign at all, even when he tried to shake down the Qaddafi government in Libya for ten million dollars, quite possibly in violation of U.S. law.

Montana’s political press? Entirely disinterested to learn that a GOP candidate for governor sought financial gain from a foreign dictator engaged in conflict with American forces. It’s been a week since the New York Times first broke the story, and not a word has been printed in Montana newspapers about the issue.

The Kansas City Star thought it mattered:

Among those in the group was Neil C. Livingstone, a terrorism consultant at the Washington-based international consulting firm Executive Action LLC. A phone number listed on the website of Executive Action has been disconnected.

Livingstone told The New York Times that he’d heard one of Gadhafi’s sons, Seif al-Islam el-Gadhafi, was interested in more peaceful escape from Libya. Livingstone told the newspaper the group hoped to broker sanctuary for the Gadhafi family in an Arab-speaking country.

The Daily Mail cared about the issue:

Borgers’ letter offered the services of Neil C Livingstone, 65, a terrorism specialist, television commentator and author who moved back to his home state of Montana this year to run for governor, as well as Marty Martin, a former CIA department head, the Times reported.

Also on board were Neil S. Alpert, who had worked for the Republican National Committee and the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, and Randell K. Wood, a Kansas City lawyer who has represented Libyan organisations for decades.

The embarrassingly gratifying letter said: ‘Our group of Libyan sympathisers is extremely worried about this and we would like to help to block the actions of your international enemies and to support a normal working relationship with the United States Government.’

The Huffington Post reported on the story:

Former Sen. George Lemieux (R-Fla.) hosted a fundraiser this spring for a terrorism expert seeking a $10 million contract with Col. Muammar Gaddafi’s government during the final months of the dictator’s bloody dictatorship of Libya.

The consultant, Dr. Neil Livingstone, a Republican gubernatorial candidate in Montana, spent 30 years in Washington’s lobbying and intelligence industries.

So, I’ll close with this general journalistic tip: if the New York Times and dozens of other media outlets are reporting about a scandal involving a political candidate in Montana, someone should probably write about it back home.

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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