Featured Helena Montana Politics

Bigoted Confederate Enthusiast (and Justice of the Peace) Mike Swingley Sends Another Inappropriate E-mail from Official Account

It seems like Helena Justice of the Peace Mike Swingly can’t stop issuing bigoted, idiotic remarks. This morning, Washington Post reporter Avi Selk tweeted that he received a rambling, partisan attack from Justice Swingley’s official county e-mail account.

What seems to have made Swingley so angry that he needed to lash out at a D.C. reporter was coverage of the QAnon movement,  an anonymous conspiracy theorist who has gained traction among the rubes who support Donald Trump so much that they believe it’s not his corruption and incompetence that are causing his Presidency to fail, but a “deep state” bent on destroying the America of the 1950s.

This, of course, isn’t Swingley’s first time at the conspiracy trough. Back in 2015, the Montana Cowgirl highlighted his history of bigotry against Arabs, immigrants, President Obama, and women.

More troubling, Swingley used his official county account to write a bigoted screed defending Helena’s Confederate monument, arguing in a grammatically challenged piece that:

  • the “Arabic writing” at the Civic Center should be removed because “it reminds me of the Arabic writing on the flag of ISIS and as 99.9% of the terrorist [sic] in the world have turned out to be Islamic fundamentalist and Arab speaking.”
  • the largest reason for the Civil War as economic, that the Southern states wanted to print their own currency.

And it’s hard not to wonder if those bigoted attitudes don’t affect Swingley’s decisions from the bench.  In 2016, MT Cowgirl reported that Swingley released a deputy sheriff who issued bigoted threat at a party while waving a gun around:

A Lewis & Clark County deputy sheriff who got all liquored up at a neigbor’s bachelor party and, according to court documents, threatened a half-Asian guy with a gun, pointing it directly at his chest several times after calling him “an ISIS”, was released on his own recognizance by a local Justice of the Peace even though he originally had a $50,000 bail.

While Swingley issued a half-hearted non-apology hours after Selk tweeted, it’s fair to ask whether someone coming before him in court can possibly expect a fair hearing, both because of his intemperate, inaccurate, and racist views and because he seems unable to control himself from expressing those views on the job.

Swingley needs to issue a real apology, not one that resorts to his typical combination of self-aggrandizement (“At my own physical and emotional expense. I do everything possible…” and non-sequitur (“Hospitals charge $7 for a Tylenol and we wonder why nobody can afford health insurance”). After that real apology, he needs to take some time to reflect on what it means to be a justice and how his views have affected the people in his court.

Lashing out at a broken system of governance–when you are a part of the legal and government apparatus yourself–when you’ve made another serious blunder isn’t an apology; it’s a reminder that Swingley needs to reflect on his own behavior and his own views.

If he won’t do that, and convincingly apologize, it’s time for him to resign.


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  • It’s troublesome to me to see Montanans engage in the Civil War battle that was fought and won in 1865. Move on for pete’s sake or move to one of the Southern states still fighting it but don’t bring it to MT. Montana was settle by people from all over searching for gold. Of the four men credited as early settlers two were known Confederates….meaning that two weren’t. Half of all the people may have been from the South but more than half weren’t. We, as a whole, are not Confederate sympathizers and for people like Justice of the Peace Mike Swingly to try and make us sympathizers is just wrong.
    Justice of the Peace Mike Swingly says Helena isn’t aligned with any hate groups but that too, is false. The American Security Rally of Montana is based in Helena. The American Security Rally is listed by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a hate group affiliated with many known
    agitators. Justice of the Peace Mike Swingly needs to move on if his beliefs are so strongly held.
    I’m including two links in regard to my post:



  • Swingly does not sound like a person that should have a title of “Justice of the Peace”. People with anger issues are a pain in the ass. They blame everybody else for their mental constipation, wrongly and falsely accusing, assaulting or battering with prejudice and/or hate that makes everybody else miserable and or angry.

    Wish everybody would stop lumping people into categories. I think if you go out for coffee, or a beer, on a regular basis you will find that if you actually listen to folks in the community you will see that they will agree and disagree on all sorts of issues. I think it is important for all of us to listen to our neighbors because one way or another we will learn something that will change our perspective.

    The U.S Constitution is the line I hold to and I would hope anyone calling themselves a US citizen would agree. A law is the law until a consensus is built to change it. The Confederate flag represents anti-US Constitution sentiments that apparently require a level of laxative not yet met.

  • It was disappointing to see Lee newspapers carry several column inches of Mr. Swingley’s self-aggrandizing self promoting rant without any filter or analysis or counterpoint.

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Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba is an eighteen-year teacher of English, 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.

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