Montana GOP: Plotting To Oust Moderates?

From the Great Falls Tribune: 

On the surface, lawmakers in the 63rd Montana Legislature appear to be working to get along and to advance bills both parties can live with.

But below the surface, a simmering ideological battle is threatening to boil over onto the Senate floor.

The red "GOP" logo used by the party...

The red “GOP” logo used by the party for its website (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The turmoil isn’t between Republicans, who control both houses of the Legislature, and their Democratic counterparts. The most heated political power struggle under way at the Capitol right now is between the conservative and moderate factions within the GOP caucus.

It’s a power struggle that has played out in local legislative primary races. It is often bantered about in the halls of the Capitol and in the watering holes around Helena.

Emails recently obtained by the Tribune pull back the curtain and give the public a glimpse of the seething intra-party acrimony that has infected the Legislature’s most powerful body.

The documents show key members of the Senate Republican caucus, including members of the current leadership team, began plotting their power play as early as September of last year.

According to one former state senator who was defeated in a three-way Republican primary last June, conservative members of the Senate caucus began identifying allies and enemies and painting political targets as early as July 2011, just a few months after the session adjourned.

The emails and documents — which feature a lengthy discussion between Senate President Jeff Essmann of Billings, Senate Majority Leader Art Wittich of Bozeman, Sen. Jason Priest of Red Lodge, Majority Whip Frederick “Eric” Moore of Miles City, Sen. Ed Walker of Billings and Sen. Dave Lewis of Helena — outline the strategy the conservative Republicans in the Senate caucus used to seize power from the 2011 leadership team in order to advance their policies in 2013.

The goal of the new conservative leadership team, as Essmann detailed in one email last September, was to advance a “long game strategy” that “involves changing the face of the Montana Supreme Court” so the high court “does not find a constitutional block to every conservative policy initiative and will give (Republicans) a better shot at redistricting in 10 years.”

“(Republican Redistricting Commissioner) Jon Bennion was able to draw a map with 63 safe Republican seats,” Essmann wrote on Sept. 13 in an email with the subject line “Agenda control.”

“If we can implement the long term strategy we will be in a position to actually elect a majority of conservatives in both bodies, adopt conservative legislation and have a court that will uphold it,” Essmann wrote.

Read the full story here.

In One of His First Acts as Congressman, Daines Supports Unconstitutional DOMA

DainesToday, the country bid a not-so-fond farewell to the 112th Congress (including Denny Rehberg), and swore in the new 113th Congress with Steve Daines.

What was the first thing this shiny new Congress did?

Well, Daines, who ran on a “more jobs, less government” platform, cast one of his first votes in favor of the House continuing to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars defending the so-called “Defense of Marriage Act” (DOMA) which denies hundreds of benefits to legally married same-sex couples.

Apparently when Daines said “more jobs” he meant “more jobs for lawyers defending blatantly unconstitutional archaic laws.”

DOMA is the Clinton-era law that prohibits the federal government from recognizing same-sex unions. This law denies benefits to the same-sex partners of military members killed while fighting for our country. It also prohibits the federal government from recognizing bi-national same-sex couples in immigration cases, which has led to several high-profile deportations. It also refuses to acknowledge same-sex spouses in relation to Social Security survivor benefits.

This law is clearly unconstitutional, which is why in early 2011 the Obama administration’s Department of Justice announced they would no longer defend the law. Our illustrious House members though chose to pick up the torch of bigotry and continued to defend the law at the taxpayer’s expense. Thus far, Steve Daines, John Boehner and the Republicans in the House have spent more than $1.7 million defending this law.

The latest expenditure in support of DOMA was actually buried within the House of Representative rules that the new Congress approved today. Generally these rules simply lay out the process for how the House will run. To bury an appropriation inside this bill is an unprecedented abuse of the process.

This is just the latest example of the clear hypocrisy of Daines and his tea party colleagues advocating for smaller government except for when they don’t.

DOMA, ruled as unconstitutional ten different times in seven different cases, will face the US Supreme Court later this year.


Tester’s All Over Montana. Rehberg? Nowhere to Be Found

United States Senate Seal

United States Senate Seal (Photo credit: DonkeyHotey)

From Politico:

Sen. Jon Tester and Rep. Denny Rehberg are locked in possibly the closest Senate race in the country, but their final weekend of campaigning suggests it’s anything but.

Tester is on an 800-mile sprint across this majestic state, energizing his base and trying to persuade Mitt Romney backers to split their ticket and give the Democratic incumbent another six years in the Senate.

Rehberg, meanwhile, is nowhere to be seen on the campaign trail. He’s employing the classic, play-it-safe strategy of a frontrunner running down the clock — even though polls indicate the race is a true tossup.

But the thing that made my skin crawl:

Rehberg declined a request for an interview.


Read more:

Log Cabin Republicans “Sell Out”- Endorse Romney

Today, the Log Cabin Republicans endorsed Mitt Romney for president. National Stonewall Democrats Executive Director Jerame Davis had the following reaction:

“The Log Cabin Republicans have proven once and for all that they are not an organization aligned with the LGBT movement. They are a Republican front group bumbling their way into fooling LGBT voters that it’s OK to support a party that would legislate us back into the closet.

“Their endorsement of Mitt Romney isn’t just shameful – it’s insulting. Mitt Romney stands for nothing positive for LGBT people. He supports a federal marriage amendment (which was a reason for Log Cabin to refuse to endorse George W. Bush in 2004). He supports McCarthy-like investigations into our community for evidence of ‘harassment of Christians’. He opposes the repeal of DOMA. He opposes ENDA. He’s even said things as basic as the right to visit your sick or dying loved one in the hospital is a ‘privilege’ and not a right.

“On top of all of that, Mitt Romney is a liar. He has told so many untruths and changed his positions so many times throughout this campaign, how can Log Cabin – or anyone – trust a word he would say? A person with no moral compass goes whichever way the political winds blow. With Mitt Romney in charge of the ship of state, we would be a rudderless nation with nothing but luck to keep us from crashing into the rocky shore – and Log Cabin Republicans believes this is the best their party and our country can muster.

“It’s a disgrace. A once venerated and decent organization has become a shell of itself blithely pandering to the least common denominator. This is politics at its worst – when a community sells out its own people for the gain of a few individuals. There is little doubt that Clarke Coooper’s position on the RNC finance committee played a major role in this decision. Of course, so did their blinding fear of GOProud nipping at their heels.

“So there you have it – the Log Cabin Republicans, who screamed loudly and forcefully for months that liberal groups and LGBT movement posturing weren’t going to affect their endorsements have instead allowed the interests of money sucking GOP insiders and the fear of a conservative performance troupe to decide their endorsement for them.

“It’s reprehensible. Have they no decency?”

My take is this: For today’s Log Cabin Republicans, human rights take a back seat to economic rights might. They are willing to endorse candidates and policies that cause people like themselves greater suffering and indignity in favor of currying political clout with a party that loathes them.

It’s a real-world example of Stockholm Syndrome- where the captive becomes sympathetic to their captor, never realizing they have no freedom until they leave.


Obama Will Be “Democrats’ Ronald Reagan” If Re-Elected

So says Andrew Sullivan in this article. I tend to agree.

“If Obama wins, to put it bluntly, he will become the Democrats’ Reagan. The narrative writes itself. He will emerge as an iconic figure who struggled through a recession and a terrorized world, reshaping the economy within it, passing universal health care, strafing the ranks of al -Qaeda, presiding over a civil-rights revolution, and then enjoying the fruits of the recovery. To be sure, the Obama recovery isn’t likely to have the same oomph as the one associated with Reagan—who benefited from a once-in-a-century cut of top income tax rates (from 70 percent to, at first, 50 percent, and then to 28 percent) as well as a huge jump in defense spending at a time when the national debt was much, much less of a burden. But Obama’s potential for Reagan status (maybe minus the airport-naming) is real. Yes, Bill Clinton won two terms and is a brilliant pol bar none, as he showed in Charlotte in the best speech of both conventions. But the crisis Obama faced on his first day—like the one Reagan faced—was far deeper than anything Clinton confronted, and the future upside therefore is much greater. And unlike Clinton’s constant triangulating improvisation, Obama has been playing a long, strategic game from the very start—a long game that will only truly pay off if he gets eight full years to see it through. That game is not only changing America. It may also bring his opposition, the GOP, back to the center, just as Reagan indelibly moved the Democrats away from the far left.”

Read it all for yourself here.

Tim Fox: Attorney Discriminatory

Correction: Fox will speak tomorrow (Friday)- my source incorrectly reported that he spoke today. Other than that, the story still stands. Unless Fox mentions the below. Then, of course, I’ll happily retract.

Today, Republican Attorney General Candidate Tim Fox spoke before the Montana Nonprofit Association.

And he spoke about work he’s done with nonprofit entities throughout the state.


Fox (Photo credit: this is for the birds)

Pretty normal, right?

Unfortunately though, he forgot to mention work he’s done for a few of his favorite non-profits. Discriminatory ones.

So, as a service to my readers I thought I’d elaborate a little bit on Fox’s non-profit experience.

First, and perhaps most notable is his work with the Montana Family Foundation. This is the group that recently hosted “Chick-fil-a Appreciation Day 2.0,” where they charged $20 for chicken sandwiches to support their anti-gay, anti-women and anti-choice mission. When they’re not serving chicken to show their hatred of gay people, they’re fighting to make sure LGBT people don’t get treated with dignity in the state. This is why Fox jumped at the opportunity to write an Amicus Brief for the organization in the Donaldson case that is currently before the Montana Supreme Court.

This case states that gays and lesbians are being discriminated against by the state because the state doesn’t provide any form of relationship recognition to these couples, despite the constitution’s equal protections clause. And yes- I’m clearly in support of the state losing this one….

In his Amicus Brief for the Family Foundation, Fox states that there can’t possibly be discrimination again against gays, because the President and the Congress have helped increase protections for LGBT people by repealing DADT and refusing to support the “Defense of Marriage Act.”

Yeah, right.

Somehow Fox forgot to mention that many of his supporters and sitting Republican legislators have maintained that in the state of Montana it is legal to imprison people simply for being gay.

An Attorney General ought to know these things, dontcha think?

Fox also forgot to mention that he defended the Canyon Ferry Baptist Church’s right to collect signatures to help ban marriage rights for LGBT people, despite the fact that they’re a tax-exempt organization.

One thing Fox did make clear at the forum today is that he feels so strongly about the missions of non-profit organizations like the Montana Family Foundation and the Canyon Ferry Baptist Church- and that he does all of his work for them for free.

LGBT Montanans and their allies have too much at stake right now to allow Tim Fox to become our next Attorney General. We’ve got momentum on our side, but if Fox is elected he’ll almost certainly attempt to stop any movement towards equality that we’ve been seeing.

And pardon my French, but that’s just too f%^&*!ng scary to let happen.
Pam Bucy’s my girl.

National Republican Committee Puts Over Half A Million Dollars in Montana To Defeat Bucy

Because Pam Bucy won’t allow “Big Tobacco” and corporate interests like pharmaceutical and insurance companies to own this state- they’re pumping in a lot of money to help the man who will- Tim Fox. Perhaps ironically, the buying of the chief law enforcement official of Montana doesn’t seem to bother Republicans….

The Missoulian:

A national Republican committee has bought more than $580,000 worth of television and radio advertising as part an independent expenditure effort in support of Tim Fox for attorney general.

The Republican State Leadership Committee Inc., based in Washington, D.C., purchased the ads, according to advertising purchase information obtained by the campaign of Pam Bucy, Fox’s Democratic opponent. About $534,000 is for television ads, while the rest is for radio.

Buying independent expenditure advertising in support of a candidate is legal, but coordination between these groups and the candidates is prohibited.

The committee’s total ad buy is more than what both Fox and Bucy have raised in their campaigns combined to date. Bucy has raised about $270,000 to Fox’s $232,000 so far.

“Frankly, I just think this is incredibly disrespectful,” Bucy said in a phone interview Tuesday. “It’s definitely out-of-state corporations trying to buy this election.”

The GOP group, which spent $30 million in 2010 in support of down-ballot state Republican candidates nationally, expects to top that level in 2012, spokesman Adam Temple said. So far, in the 2012 cycle, it has raised $21.4 million nationally and spent $15.8 million.

The top five national donors to the Republican State Leadership Committee in the 2012 cycle are Blue Cross/Blue Shield, $2.4 million; Reynolds American (a tobacco company), $705,000; Devon Energy, $600,000; Altria Group (the parent company of Philip Morris and other tobacco companies), $489,399; and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, $475,399, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, a Washington nonpartisan, nonprofit group.

 Read the rest.