Congressional Candidate Matt Rosendale and Prominent Montana Republicans Attend Extremist Event

Jimmy Tobias in the Missoula Independent is reporting that GOP Congressional candidate Matt Rosendale, Montana GOP vice chair Jennifer Fielder, and at least three GOP members of the Legislature attended an extremist event in Kalispell called “How to Reclaim Montana’s Lands” which featured a thoroughly derranged guest speaker named Robert MacKenzie. Mackenzie, leader of an organization called Defend Rural America holds some unconventional views, as Tobias reports:

MacKenzie wants to teach citizens and politicians how to strip control of public lands away from the federal government and put it in the hands of state and local officials. He believes that rural America is under attack by an insidious cartel of leftists, bureaucrats, bankers and phony scientists who use federal lands and laws like the Endangered Species Act to enact an oppressive agenda.

MacKenzie explained that these plots are the work of what he calls “neo-environmentalists.” “What is the single biggest problem in rural America?” he asked rhetorically during his speech. “Neo-environmentalism. I am not talking about environmentalism. I am talking about a political movement that disguises itself in a green cloak … If you peel it back, you will see what I have been seeing … watermelons, green on the outside, red on the inside … In my opinion, they are domestic terrorists.”

When challenged by the media, some of those in attendance (though not Rosendale) tried to walk back their support for the event, but they went with full knowledge of the speaker’s agenda. As MT Cowgirl reported back in December, Senator Fielder promoted the event in her local newspaper. She was also quite supportive of Mr. MacKenzie, writing:

The following week, another public meeting will be offered by Kirk MacKenzie of Defend Rural America, a non-partisan grass roots coalition. This presentation will be given Monday Dec 16th at 6:30 pm in the ballroom of the Best Western Flathead Lake Inn, located at the intersection of HWY 93 & 82 just south of Kalispel. It is open to the public at no charge.

Defend Rural America highlights environmental issues of greatest national magnitude and teaches the Constitutional process state and local governments can use to increase local management of public lands and stop unwarranted Endangered Species Act listings. The public is encouraged to attend so they will know how to encourage and support their local elected officials in this process.

Surely before attending an event about Montana Lands and inviting a speaker to present the rational minds at the Montana GOP did some research. Perhaps they would have uncovered this article that traffics in Anti-Semitic theories about banking, this call for secession, his call to battle fictional Amero currency, his plan to end the income tax, or his insane fears that a decline in American agricultural production will lead America to become a “third world country.”

Or this video, which makes clear, if nothing else, that inviting Mr. Mackenzie to speak for two hours is masochism of the highest order:

It’s great that the Missoula Indy has covered this story, but where in the hell has the rest of the Montana press been on this issue? If a collection of high-ranking Democrats attended a conference that featured a speaker discussing secession, calling political enemies terrorists, and embracing fringe theories about the Constitution, it’d be front page news.

Just because the Republican leadership in Montana is crazy doesn’t mean it isn’t news when they do crazy.

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.

Subscribe to our posts

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.


Click here to post a comment

Please enter an e-mail address

  • Yep there is no liberal agenda of the Newspapers here in Montana.
    Hell I bet, they are willing to even sell story space. to the GOP nutcases at this event in Living color and stupidity…… if the cash deposit at the papers Bank is big enough.

    When are our Newspapers gonna grow a spine and point out this crap???? When???

  • I thought about attending that meeting, but after doing some digging I concluded that Mackenzie’s true mission was selling his over-priced, and most likely over-wrought, books. If he ever returns, perhaps those who disagree with him can stage a watermelon feast in the parking lot.

  • No one is ever who they appear to be in these deals. Important to ignore the shells and watch the pea. The objective is not “local control” of these lands, but rather corporate control.

    If you think the Democrats are watching our backs here, follow the money and think again. Only grassroots organizing stops these relentless land grabs.

  • Just a couple of points here since this article should come as no surprise to anyone that isn’t living under a rock.

    1) The fact that this story isn’t covered in any of the major news sources in Montana is not all that surprising – it doesn’t fit in their scope of reporting. It is a blatantly contentious issue for some people (in this case, primarily progressives) and it has little real news value. Moreover, most of Montana’s newspapers are only one step above PR rags. This is usually the case when corporate financial interests are more important than fourth estate interests. Don has done an excellent job of pointing out the shortcomings from his perspective and I respect a lot of what his has written on the subject, but I also find it painfully one sided. The Conservatives in this state also have reason to take the Lee Newspapers and news sources to task because they fail to report on issues like this on the other side of the spectrum for the same reasons. Rob said it best in his reply to Norma – “When you have the wherewithal to pay them to do it”. Money, not news is the driving factor here and money is non-partisan. This isn’t a case of a “rightwing” news source (like Fox News), it is a case of a money driven news source. The Dillon paper is even more of a PR rag and the PR slant is much more obvious.

    2) For all his bluster and whining about “both sides are the same” (a patently false argument as has been shown time and time again), he does have one very important point in his rant buried in the BS – follow the money. Mr. Mackenzie may very well be the demon this article and the commenters have made him out to be, but he is a businessman first. He makes large sums of money doing what he does and there is absolutely no incentive for him to stop making sick amounts of money doing it. It is no different than Rush Limberger in that respect. This shyster has made a fortune milking, shall we say the easily led by making bold, controversial statements that appeal to these people’s fantasies. Certain areas of Montana are not known as bastions of tolerance and this guys appeals to the people that live there. It should come as no surprise that opportunistic wingnuts like Rosendale and Fielder would want to tap into that fanaticism – especially if they can do it with someone who has demonstrated an ability to lead this somewhat unsavory section of Montana populous.

    3) My question is what was this article meant to accomplish? I would venture to say that most of the commenters here – including Craig and some of the more right leaning lurkers are already aware of at least Fielder’s wingnuttery. I have heard Craig himself decry her politics. The people that would be able to vote Feilder out of office and who are presumed to follow Rosendale are unlikely to hang out at a site called “Intelligent Discontent”. If this was a hit piece on the news sources in Montana, it wasn’t one of your best. If it was point out Rosendale’s wingnuttery, you really didn’t tie Rosendale all that well to Feilder’s views or Mackenzie’s. Attending a meeting where a wingnut is a speaker does not mean that Rosendale is a wingnut. Feilder has a LONG history of wingnuttery – if you are going after Rosendale, you will have to show his own wingnuttery. I do not judge you, Don, by the people who comment on this blog. I would judge you by your own statements – which is why I have respect for you.

      • Actually, not so much. I am avoiding Cowgirl like the plague because it has become a toxic waste dump. That said, I finally got through the link to the original article in the Missoula Independent and read what both articles (here and at Cowgirl) are referring to.

        The key focus seems to be Rosendale’s support for MacKenzie. I did not find the article to support that idea at all. What I did find in the article is that Rosendale supports the idea of wresting federal public lands away from the Federal Government and put them in the hands of the local and state governments. This is not a new idea from the right, either. At least two of the four Republican Candidates and Richy Rich Rehberg have said similar things. In fact, Richy Rich Rehberg attempted to do an end run around the system to put private lands in the state hands (and presumably into private hands later).

        There is no question this is an issue that should be highlighted for this candidate. Worse, if he subscribes to MacKenzie’s plan on how to go about it, it will create a legal battle that is likely to tie up court time for years. I am not even convinced that what was done in Arizona is even possible under the Montana Constitution (I am still researching exactly how they went about doing it).

        Regardless, there is nothing in the article that confirms Rosendale shares MacKenzie’s “more colorful” agendas or the Rosendale buys into any of MacKenzie’s BS about the “neo-environmentalists”. The takeaway from this (for me, anyway) is that Rosendale can now be listed as one of the wingnut right that feels that States have the right to ignore Federal Laws and that is certainly a deal breaker for me. The rest is just window dressing. Fielder doing the support / not support thing is modus operandi for her. Not really news.

        I did find some humor in that discredited ex legislator Skees was there. I had hoped he had crawled back under his rock… The only thing that would have made it better is if Knox had shown his face at this event.

        • I think it’s certainly newsworthy that a Congressional candidate went to (apparently without objection after) an event featuring a speaker with radical views like these.

          The media just ignores how reactionary the Republican Party has become, I suspect, because they are accustomed to it.

          • There is the disconnect we are having, Don. It isn’t just the Republicans that are acting reactionary. Now I certainly do not buy into Mark’s “they are all the same” argument but I also don’t buy into the common meme on the left that Republicans are evil and Democrats are good. There is plenty of reactionary activities to go around. Hell, just listen to any one of Larry’s rants or Norma’s grandiose speeches.

            Rosendale is attempting to get elected to the US house seat for Montana. He is running in a primary for a party that ranges from moderates like Bohlinger to full blown nutcases like the Lie Monkey and Skees. To get past the Primary, he must somehow seem appealing to both of these extremes without carving out a specific connection to either. If he does, he either sacrifices the primary or he sacrifices the general. This is the reality that any Republican Candidates must face.

            It is no different on the left, Either. Any Democratic Candidate must meet the purity tests of the far left like Norma and the 4 & 20 gang as well as seeming able to compromise and work with moderates. Tester has done the best job of this so far of any candidate I have seen recently. The hard left still occasionally calls for his head on a platter but he has enough appeal to continue to get elected.

            I would have been a lot more concerned about Rosendale if he had started spouting the wingnut BS that Skees, Knox and the Lie Monkey spout. Then, I would have agreed with the idea that Rosendale is a bigoted, anti-science moron. Not so much at this point. As much as the author of the article tried to suggest it (and that was an extremely slanted article – one of the many examples of piss poor reporting in Montana), he just couldn’t get there.What Rosendale did do is go on record stating that he feels that the State and local government should wrest public lands away from the Federal Government – and idea that is… distasteful… for many reasons, at least to me.

  • “It’s great that the Missoula Indy has covered this story, but where in the hell has the rest of the Montana press been on this issue?”

    I agree with this basic point of Don’s post, but I’d like for the Montana press to take it a step or two further and get leaders of Montana’s resource extraction/exploitation industries on record as well.

    Most everyone in the timber industry (including the Tester logging bill collaborators and Montana Wilderness Association’s ‘timber partners’), oil & gas/fracking, hardrock mining and coal mining industries have publicly expressed very similar sentiments supporting local management of federal public lands and opposition to not only Endangered Species Act (ESA) protections for imperiled species, but to the very Act itself.

    You can toss the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) into that list of agencies and regulations largely opposed by Montana’s resource extraction/exploitation industries, as well as the provisions of bedrock environmental laws such as the National Environmental Policy Act, (NEPA), Clean Water Act, Clean Air Act, etc.

    Yet, in this context, some people honestly think it’s best to partner up and ‘collaborate’ with these same resource extraction industries by having politicians mandate increases in resource extraction from public lands and less oversight and regulation from the laws and public agencies established to protect land, air, water, wildlife habitat, public health and public participation.

  • As you can read in today’s Helena IR the Ivory Sagebrush Rebellion ALEC tour of Montana included all the predictable cries for more taxpayer subsidized logging of national forests at a panel in Helena yesterday.

    Those cries for more logging included Tom France, the National Wildlife Federation’s recently demoted staffer who stated, “We need to do a better job moving timber off federal lands.”

    I know, I know. With friends like these….

    Ironically, if anyone bothers to read through public participation NEPA documents dealing with the US Forest Service’s timber sale program in Montana you’ll see that Tom France and the National Wildlife Federation pretty much doesn’t participate in the public NEPA process for timber sales at all.

    You see, as one of the key architects Tester’s mandated logging bill, France prefers to operate in secret, private meetings with his timber industry ‘partners’ using his political connections that come with the National Wildlife Federation’s $80 million + budget, as opposed to participating in the public NEPA process like the rest of us do.

    Of course, none of this stops France from complaining in public that the actual groups and individuals who fully participate in the entire public NEPA process are somehow operating outside of the process, or just coming in at the 11th hour, etc.

    And seriously, do all those complaining about “gridlock” actually understand the fact that from 2008 to 2012 the US Forest Service sold enough logging sales in Montana and North Idaho to fill over 239,000 logging trucks, which if lined up end-to-end, would stretch for 2,048 miles. Does that sound like a lack of logging from National Forests to anyone?

    Do all the “more logging” complainers understand that America has been part of a global economic recession for the past 5 years? Those selfishly calling for “more logging” must not realize that US Lumber consumption is down nearly 50% over the past 10 years and new home construction is still just a fraction of what it once was.

    I get that these boys want US Taxpayers to pony more money to subsidize more logging on our national forests, but you’d think the National Wildlife Federation would support wildlife habitat, clean water and roadless area protection, instead of more logging coming from political mandates.

    • Here’s what I’ve been told Matt. Choose to deny or endorse.

      In 2005 we as a state logged approx. 500 million board ft. of timber.

      Last year less than half of that.

      • I don’t doubt it IJ. 2005 was the absolutely height of the unsustainable housing boom. A remember, while we hear a lot about the housing boom/bubble/burst, we don’t hear as much about the commercial real estate boom/bubble/burst, which is lagging a bit behind, but still coming, for a variety of reasons (ie Less office workers in a ‘remote,’ tech world. Less ‘brick and mortar’ businesses in a tech, on-line shopping world, etc). Welcome to the new normal. We can’t, and won’t go back.

        • One other thing. Remember, in 2005, during the height of the housing boom/bubble the timber industry not only benefited from all this unsustainable building and development, but they also benefited from near historic highs in terms of lumber commodity prices. Pretty much since 2008 lumber prices have been in the toilet, dropping to near historic lows around 2009/2010. They have risen a bit the past few years from that deep low, but have leveled off the past 12 months.

          Fact is, the timber industry went from historically high demand and historically high commodity prices, to near historic low demand and near historic low prices. Enough Econ 101.

          But hey, I’m sure if we just did “more loggin'” on national forests everything would be OK, right?

          • Yeah but oil prices fall and rise and we still drill.

            Aren’t we importing lumber on a large scale from Canada? Like oil?

            Bear with me, I only have a minor in economics. If timber was worthless we wouldn’t log it. And oil has no shelf life. Timber grows old and dies.

Send this to a friend