Among the important races in Montana that never seem to get the attention they deserve, the race for the PSC is near the top. It’s seen as a wonky, even unimportant race because many voters aren’t really sure what the PSC does or how it affects their lives. That lack of knowledge and exposure is the only possible reason that anyone is taking Brad Johnson’s candidacy seriously.
Johnson Will Be a Rubber Stamp for Oil and Gas
Johnson, who has been a perpetual candidate for public office in Montana since voters turned him out of the Secretary of State’s office, describes himself now as an “energy consultant,” an apt description of what he will do if elected to the PSC: he will consult with the energy industry and do whatever they ask him to, including raising your energy rates. Back in July, Johnson made his priorities clear when he argued about the plight of the beleaguered energy sector, arguing that we should not increase taxes on them one cent, but that we should build highways and infrastructure to continue supporting their efforts.[pullquote] If you’re satisfied with NorthWestern being granted a 12% rate increase in just the past year, Brad Johnson is your candidate. If, instead, you believe that corporate profit is less important than people being able to afford heating their homes and that corporate monopolies should have to justify these increases, a vote for the sober, fair Galen Hollenbaugh is the only choice. [/pullquote]
He’s already decided to pick winners and losers in the energy sector, admitting that he will work to kill Montana’s nascent, high-tech wind industry to continue support for oil extraction at any cost. It’s not hard to see how Johnson will vote when asked to weigh the profits of energy and telecommunications companies against the needs of Montanans.
If any more proof about where Johnson’s allegiances will lie is necessary, his fundraising makes it clear that he will work for the coal and oil companies who are trying to buy his seat for him.
His Record Demonstrates His Incompetence
We not only know that Johnson will be a shill for the energy and utility industries if elected to the PSC, but we also know what kind of worker he will be if given another state job. He made a laughable mess of his tenure as Secretary of State, including these gems:
- He badly mismanaged the 2006 election as Secretary of State, with 42% of County election supervisors saying that he did a “poor” or “very poor” job providing guidance, and failed to exclude the dead and felons from the voting rolls.
- Johnson demagogued about voter fraud repeatedly, but ignored letters from the federal goverment about the state’s failure to comply with the Help America Vote Act.
- He called for secession from the United States over a guns right decision. No, really.
- He, while running to be the state’s top election officer, wasn’t capable of filing for election on time because computers are hard to use.
He Wasn’t Even Ethical
He was not only almost criminally incompetent, but unethical as well.
- On his way out of office, Johnson, a self-described small government conservative, handed out nearly $60,000 in bonuses to his political staff, one presumes for having told the citizens of Montana just how incompetent Johnson was in the office.
- He frequently used state time to campaign and/or vacation, abusing the position of his office and using his state staff to write self-promotional pieces about himself.
- And it’s hard not to think it might be a bad idea to give Johnson a job like one at the PSC which will presumably involve driving around the state to meet with interest groups. It’s one thing to get a DUI, but it’s another entirely to take the position that you didn’t violate the law, despite having a .24 BAC.
Vote for Galen Hollenbaugh, A Voice for Consumers
Fortunately, we have a strong candidate who will balance the legitimate business needs of energy producers with the interests of Montana energy consumers in Galen Hollenbaugh. Former state representative Mike Jopek sums up Hollenbaugh as well as anyone could:
Hollenbaugh is no rubber-stamper. Hollenbaugh is one of the good guys, not politically divisive and known to get things done. That’s good news for anyone looking for real solutions from real people.
And the recent PSC decision to allow NorthWestern energy to purchase almost a billion dollars worth of dams demonstrates the difference between the two candidates quite clearly. Rather than passing on the cost at too high a level for consumers, Hollenbaugh would have voted to get more information from NorthWestern to justify the rate hike. Johnson, though? More concerned about the struggles of Montana’s energy giant than Montanan’s energy comsumers, he supported a deal that was even opposed by Republican Commissioner Travis Kavulla.
If you’re satisfied with NorthWestern being granted a 12% rate increase in just the past year, Brad Johnson is your candidate. If, instead, you believe that corporate profit is less important than people being able to afford heating their homes and that corporate monopolies should have to justify these increases, a vote for the sober, fair Galen Hollenbaugh is the only choice.
The PSC has enough shills for industry sitting on the commission right now and enough people willing to rubber stamp any rate increase companies ask for; we need to ensure that there is at least one voice looking out for the consumer and Montana’s environment, and Galen Hollenbaugh is that candidate.