Montana Politics Ryan Zinke Steve Bullock

Campaign sleaze and some breaking Juneau news

No wonder less than 60 percent of eligible voters have cast ballots in recent presidential elections. After viewing the many political commercials during Game 7 of the World Series, one would surmise that all candidates are corrupt, inept, lying bitches and bastards. Let’s review some of the slime.

Skanky Gianforte Spot

Folks at the Bozeman Daily Chronicle are upset about a Greg Gianforte ad that uses the paper’s headlines to bash Gov. Steve Bullock. Using headlines and quotes in a TV spot to make a point is nothing new, but it turns out the commercial’s creators rewrote the headlines. Using a faux mock-up of the Chronicle, the headlines scream: PAYOUTS TO “COVER UP MISDEEDS” and THAT’S CORRUPTION and EVEN LAWYERS FROM STEVE BULLOCKS (sic) OWN PARTY ARE CRYING FOUL!, etc.

The Chronicle’s editor, Nick Ehli had this to say:

“I realize that political ads are, by nature, political,” Ehli wrote. “I did, however, want to express my concern about the campaign’s ads that started this weekend. I have no problem with the content; it’s certainly fair game.

“But it does seem the charges in the spot are being made not by the campaign, but by the Chronicle. I can’t imagine a viewer having any other reaction.”

That’s a pretty tame response, if you ask me. I’d be plenty perturbed if someone rewrote my pithy headlines, attributed them to me and then used them in a negative ad.

The response from the Gianforte team? From the last line of the story:

No one from the Gianforte campaign had responded as of this writing.

It should also be noted that Gianforte has spent more on TV ads for a statewide office than any other candidate in the country.

Juras low blows 

It’s bad enough when partisan races air sleazy commercials. One would like to think that nonpartisan judicial campaigns would stay above the fray. Not so in the Kristen Juras/Kirk Sandefur contest for Montana Supreme Court Justice.

You’ve probably seen the spots on Sandefur being weak on crime, especially pedophilia and other sex crimes. That’s hard to believe when you consider he’s a former police officer and county prosecutor.

Now, Juras herself is on the attack, claiming “soft sentences in child sex cases” handled by Sandefur. In an in depth article by Lee State Bureau reporter Jayme Fraser, we get background on Sandefur’s (to quote Juras) “lenient record.”

The trend toward big money in judicial races, much of it from out-of-state, and negative ads started in 2014 when corporate-sponsored Lawrence VanDyke challenged Mike Wheat for a Montana Supreme Court seat. Wheat won but that didn’t stop Republican interests, like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, from dumping big bucks into court races in 2016.

You can stick this trend in your basket of deplorables.

Closer to home

Republican Rep. Brad Tschida (HD-97) went public on his ethics complaint against Gov. Bullock a week before the election. Problem is, according to state law, complaints are to be kept confidential until they are resolved. This one hasn’t been.

Another problem is that Tschida’s charge that Bullock misused the state plane has been largely debunked. Also, Bullock has reimbursed the state for travel expenses incurred on trips that also included fundraisers.

Tschida tried to argue the Speech and Debate clause in the Montana Constitution which states that a legislator “shall not be questioned in any other place for any speech or debate in the legislature.” From the AP story:

(Commissioner of Political Practices Jon) Motl said that clause does not apply. Tschida’s letter is not “speech or debate in the Legislature,” and prior Montana Supreme Court decisions have ruled a legislator’s interest in the outcome of an ethics complaint is no greater than an ordinary citizen’s, he said.

Here’s some other background on Tschida — one more reason to vote for Nick Davis for the Montana House in District 97.

UPDATE: Today Tschida filed suit against Motl in District Court for “violating his free speech rights.” Guess who Tschida’s attorney is? Yup, Bozeman’s Rep. Matthew Monforton. MTN’s Mike Dennison has the story. 

Breaking News

Congressional candidate Denise Juneau is being suggested for a Hillary Clinton cabinet post, the Billings Gazette reports. She’s on the short list for Secretary of Education.

While she’d make an excellent education secretary, I’d prefer she represents Montana as our sole representative in the U.S. House.

This quote from the story has a distinctly Montana flavor:

Juneau was traveling Friday morning to a get out the vote event in Lame Deer. Cell phone service was spotty, but Juneau’s campaign spokesman, Les Braswell texted that Juneau was flattered.

Incumbent Ryan Zinke was mentioned as possible Speaker of the House and Donald Trump’s running mate. It was Zinke who did the mentioning, though.

Here’s the Juneau story.



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  • I saw the Nick Ehli response to the lies from Gianforte’s campaign. My problem with it was not that it was too tame – I was glad to see a response – but that it was poorly placed. While everyone saw the GG lies, I’m guessing that few readers saw the response. Too bad.
    Surely by now voters are attuned to the continuing lies bought by Gianforte’s personal fortune, and hopefully will turn their backs on his candidacy. We have a great Governor and need to re-elect him!

  • Tschida has made a career of trying to ground Bullock’s airplane, evidently on the theory that a governor should travel at high speed on bad roads, wasting time, instead of maximizing the use of his time by traveling in the state’s King Air, a bird especially suited for intrastate travel and a much safer mode of travel than a car from the motor pool driven by a lead-footed state policeman. Voters are going to brush off the ethics complaint as an eleventh hour partisan mud sling.

  • I didn’t know that “debunked” was synonymous with “got caught”? And, he paid pennies on the dollar for a King Air and they are not cheap.

    Hillary promised Juneau and I am going to hit the lotto. Oh, I don’t play. Are you that foolish not to know when they are pandering to you and our state plus a hit for the LGBT community? It’s Hillary, gezzzzz.

    Another problem is that Tschida’s charge that Bullock misused the state plane has been largely debunked. Also, Bullock has reimbursed the state for travel expenses incurred on trips that also included fundraisers.

    • I believe it was a legitimate proposition from the soon-to-be Clinton administration to Juneau. She is well-qualified and would do an excellent job. Wait and see, Bill.

      As to the state airplane, perhaps you should read James Conner’s comment, above.

  • A lesson in law. Once again, not against the law to be stupid.

    Honest officer, I didn’t know the speed limit was 35…….. 8 years in the Senate and she has no clue for handling secure data.

    FBI Director James Comey said Sunday that the agency has reviewed all of the Hillary Clinton emails recently discovered in an unrelated case and that his conclusion in July not to prosecute Clinton after the FBI’s original investigation into her use of private email server still stands.

    Paul Ryan:
    “Regardless of this decision, the undisputed finding of the FBI’s investigation is that Secretary Clinton put our nation’s secrets at risk and in doing so compromised our national security,” he said.

    Ryan added: “She simply believes she’s above the law and always plays by her own rules. This is a pattern with the Clintons, and the American people should not have to endure four more years of their scandal and baggage.”

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Pete Talbot

'Papa’ Pete Talbot is first and foremost a grandfather to five wonderful grandchildren. Like many Montanans, he has held numerous jobs over the years: film and video producer, a partner in a marketing and advertising firm, a builder and a property manager. He’s served on local and statewide Democratic Party boards. Pete has also been blogging at various sites for over a decade. Ping-pong and skiing are his favorite diversions. He enjoys bourbon.

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