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Montana Politics

Republican Candidate for State Auditor Derek Skees: Out of Touch with Montana and Reality

While I suspect that Republican candidate for State Auditor Derek Skees would himself be more

A Skees Campaign Video

inspired by another general, it seems that the words of Napoleon are most fitting for this most unusual candidate for statewide office. Napoleon wrote, “the great proof of madness is the disproportion of one’s designs to one’s means,” and no political candidate in Montana today better represents the divide between ability and ambition than Derek Skees.

Rather than an extended narrative about the reasons Mr. Skees is unsuited for the office of State Auditor, I thought I’d offer just a sampling of the arguments against his election.

  • James Conner at the Flathead Memo offered the best introduction to Mr. Skees in his 2010 run for the Legislature. In the piece, Conner describes Skees as a Civil War history revisionist with a penchant for right-wing conspiracy theories couched as history.
  • During his single session as a legislator, he offered 23 pieces of legislation—all of which died, despite massive Republican majorities. Among his priorities? Ending public input on nuclear power, allowing students to bring firearms to schools, and nullifying federal laws.
  • He offered a bill which would give Montana the right to allow human trafficking and slavery if we wanted, because of the “traditional Anglo-American conception of ordered liberty.” Don’t believe me? Listen to the recording.
  • He was publically mocked by Republican Representative Ken Peterson for presenting an absolutely idiotic bill to reduce the size of the Montana Supreme Court.
  • Specifically, he sports Confederate clothing and believes that the Civil War was “an unconstitutional war declared by Congress and President Lincoln and involved Yankee Trader greed and Southern honor.”
  • A high school journalist in Whitefish got Skees to admit that we should build nuclear power in the Flathead, that oil is a never-ending resource, that environmentalism is communism, and that “gays invented the idea hate language.”
  • He told a candidate forum that he opposed Social Security.
  • He supports a sales tax that Montana voters have repeatedly rejected.
  • He worries about the dangers of human micro chipping.
  • His keen sense of budgeting led him to believe the state of Montana was engaged in deficit spending, which was not only factually incorrect but unconstitutional.
  • He was a featured speaker at the John Birch Society, an odious hate group which peddles conspiracy theories of the worst kind.
  • He is connected to Rick Breckenridge and attended his white-power fueled Liberty Convention in 2010 that led to an FBI investigation of one of the key speakers.
  • He may have generated the best letter to the editor of 2011, when Mike Donohue described a a rambling two hour Skees speech, saying that “the pain was so excruciating most of his audience were fighting off sleep deprivation.”

I think you get the idea.

Mr. Skees is out of touch with Montana voters, out of touch with even radical Republican values, and frankly, out of touch with reality. His inflated self-worth is only matched by his complete lack of knowledge and experience for the position. Frankly, it’s an embarrassment to the Montana Republican Party that he will be their standard bearer in this race.

Make the easy choice. For competent, professional leadership of the State Auditor’s office, throw your support behind Monica Lindeen.

Monday: Secretary of State
Tuesday: Superintendent of Public Instruction
Wednesday: State Auditor
Thursday: Attorney General
Friday: Governor

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.

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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  • This information is necessary to keep voters informed about this scary candidate and others like him. Think Rollan Roberts II.

  • It's hard to grade this post. The normal scale tops out at A+. One can add pluses to the A, but then it looks like a Moody's rating for a bond. When confronted with a post such as this that's too good to be done justice by the standard scale, I use the alternative Good scale. This post rates an MDG — Mighty Damned Good.

  • Growing up in Montana, I am very familiar with this phenomenon, in fact barely escaped being part of it. It is due to intellectual inbreeding where selected goofy ideas reproduce and thrive – Skees does not get out enough, has not seen enough of the intelligent world, and honestly believes the crap he spews. He does not understand why other people cannot see the good sense he preaches, and so thinks that the rest of us are simply unenlightened.

    He has always been with us – in my youth, he was called the John Birch Society. It's fringe thinking, but since 9/11 and the intensified culture of fear, people of his mindset have moved to the forefront of one party, and created a vacuum in the other that has pushed that party to the far right. Skees symbolizes not only Republican extremism but the modern right wing Democratic Party as well. The whole country surged to the right on 9/11. One writer I read* claims that the Republic ended in 1947 when Truman signed the National Security Act, and that was indeed a roundhouse punch. We were dazed and reeling. 9/11 was the knockout punch. We are pretty much over.

    *Gore Vidal

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