Last night, as I was flying home into Helena, I had the opportunity to witness a really great moment on the flight. The Delta flight crew announced at the start of the trip that we were sharing our flight with a group of firefighters headed to Montana. As the passengers burst into spontaneous applause, the flight crew seated as many of the firefighters in first class as they could. Small gestures both, but acknowledgement of the important work these men and women do to keep us all safe.
What those flight attendants (and the passengers) knew seems to be something that Representative Steve Daines doesn’t understand: wildfires represent a critical threat to property, natural resources, and most importantly, human lives.
As the Lolo Creek Complex fire grew to 8,000 acres, destroying at least four homes and threatening even more, Representative Daines spent his day golfing and fundraising with John Boehner in the Flathead. Neither the Congressman nor his staff were present to provide information or assistance to the public.
The Montana wildfires are apparently such a low priority for Representative Daines that they’re not even mentioned on his Congressional web site, which lists self-promoting events instead.
Of course, Governor Bullock and Senator Tester are at the fire, touring the damage and offering all the assistance their offices can muster.
Raising money from well-heeled donors at a campaign event might seem terribly important to Representative Daines, but one of the critical roles members of Congress play in a state like Montana is simple, visible leadership in times of crisis. There’s no excuse for Daines failing to do the same, especially when he’s in the midst of a month-long paid vacation from Congress.
31 counties are in a state of emergency in Montana right now, but Congressman Daines apparently sees his campaign coffers as the most pressing issue facing the state.
In his brief tenure in Congress, Daines has shown he has little interest in helping disaster victims, voting against aid for those who suffered the effects of Hurricane Sandy. Now he’s turning his back on his fellow Montanans?
A new, sad low for a perpetual candidate more interested in himself than the people he should represent.