Let them eat cake.
That seems to be the mantra of the Republican-controlled Montana Legislature.
Case in point: the mail-in ballot bill, SB 305. It was tabled yesterday by the House Judiciary Committee — where Republicans send bills to die — along a party line vote. After a hearing last week in which county commissioners, election officials and Montana citizens testified on behalf of the bill, a motion was made by Rep. Virginia Court (D-Billings) to force a vote.
But a substitute motion was proposed by Rep. Theresa Manzella (R-Hamilton) to table the bill, and that passed 11-8.
So, against the wishes of 54 out of 56 Montana counties, it looks like it will be standard fare for the May special election — polling places with election judges present, costing an additional $500,000 or more, to be paid for by the counties.
This bill could be blasted out to the House floor but I doubt it. Plus, time’s a wastin’ to get the ballots printed and distributed.
In defense of Rob Quist
Quist has been taking it in the shorts lately from Billings Gazette reporter Tom Lutey. Former U.S. House candidate and current Missoula County Clerk and Recorder, Tyler Gernant, had this to say about some of the accusations:
This story by Tom Lutey has something that troubles me, but probably not in the way that most people would assume. I get that the debts and liens are a story of interest, in fact I think it actually makes him more relatable to most Montanans. The part that bothers me is Rob Quist drawing a salary from the campaign. The article says that the practice “isn’t illegal”. To be clear, the practice not only “isn’t illegal”, it is completely legal and was passed with the specific intention of inducing people like Rob Quist to run for public office. http://billingsgazette.com/…/article_a660f016-9229-5e3c-911…
The FEC passed a change to the rules allowing candidates to draw a salary in 2002. The express purpose for passing the rule was to encourage candidates that were not independently wealthy to run for office. To be clear, the rule has not worked. Most candidates for federal office are still quite wealthy. The reason is that you have to be wealthy or willing to go deep into debt to run a successful campaign for federal office. Campaigning is more than a full time job. Life doesn’t go away when you run for office, you still have to pay your mortgage, power bill, and oh yeah, you need to eat too. Unfortunately, you don’t have time to work and run for office. The rule only allows you to take a salary at the lesser of the job you held before running or the salary of the office you are seeking. There is no extravagance in paying yourself what you were making before you had to quit to run for office. In fact, it is quit noble to put yourself at such financial risk for the sake of serving the public.
Now if Greg Gianforte starts paying himself a salary, I think we would all have cause for concern. He is independently wealthy and is expressly the kind of candidate that the FEC was trying to avoid in passing this rule. The simple fact is that Congress needs fewer millionaires in office, not more. I hope that Tom Lutey does a follow-up on this part of his story, because he did a severe injustice to Montana when he wrote his flippant comment. It’s not that it “isn’t illegal” to encourage typical people to run for office, it’s the whole damn point of the law.
I’m sure we can expect a follow up from Lutey any day.
Trump, Zinke and the Earth
That’s our former Montana Congressman and current U.S. Interior Secretary, Ryan Zinke, looking over Trump’s right shoulder as the Donald rolls back Obama-era climate change initiatives.
“We’re going to have clean coal, really clean coal,” said the Prez. That’s like saying we’re going to have healthy methamphetamine — there’s no such thing.
But keep pimping for Trump, Zinke, as he goes about destroying the planet. I’m pretty sure that’s your job description as Secretary of the Interior. Montana thanks you.
How ’bout some good news, for a change?
I really liked this story in the Great Falls Tribune, about a bunch of Browning kids visiting Washington, D.C. I can’t really tease it because the URL gives it away. There’s video and everything, though. Take a look: