Sherlock: Schweitzer did not violate state law

I read in Lee Newspapers this morning, “Former Gov. Brian Schweitzer did not violate state law by taping public service announcements shortly after filing as a candidate for re-election in 2008, a state District Court judge ruled Monday.”

You are probably thinking the same thing I did, “Is that still going on?”

The answer is yes. Maybe it’s over now. Maybe not.

From reading the story, Schweitzer apparently found a judge that was ignorant enough to accept his side of things. State District Court Judge Jeffrey Sherlock of Helena said in his decision that “There is no evidence that the PSAs were ever in a newspaper, on the radio or on television.” He added, “Since there is no evidence that the PSAs were ever broadcast on the radio, it cannot be held that the governor violated (that section of law).”

Oh boy…Sherlock should have consulted with Dr. Watson on this one (yes, I went there).

Back in August 2008, a Hearing Officer appointed by the Montana Commissioner of Political Practices who was appointed to that office by Governor Schweitzer decided that Schweitzer had violated Montana law by producing illegal taxpayer-funded Public Service Announcements (PSA) after he became a candidate for re-election.

In my opinion, that was the correct decision.

The complaint/case has bounced around since that initial finding. It showed Montanans just how lousy the Montana’s Political Practices office is in refereeing campaigns and candidates. I’ve said before that office reminds me of the referees used for Harlem Globetrotters basketball games.

I don’t know if the Montana Republican Party has the chance to appeal this decision (or if they even will), but maybe it’s time to let the Schweitzer ride into the sunset. That may be tough because several Republicans would like nothing more than “to get” Schweitzer. He beat them at the game of politics for eight years and it will be hard for some righties to just let it go.

Meanwhile, we have so many elected officials running around Helena, it would be great if they would work on fixing the problems associated with the Commissioner of Political Practices office. Working on that ranks higher to me than spanking offenders, withdrawing from the United Nations, or using alkaline hydrolysis to dispose of human remains – but that’s just me.

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