Montana Politics 2016: Three Things

Enjoy doing nothing, and you can enjoy doing anything. Enjoy having nothing, and you can enjoy whatever you have. – Ralph Marston

Welcome to Wednesday – also known as “Hump Day” or “Wine Wednesday” or whatever works to help you make it to the weekend! Remember to stay calm – the downward slide into the weekend starts today!

Today is another one of those days in which there are several political stories out there that I want to comment about, but I have narrowed my commentary to “Three Things.”

Today’s “Three Things” are:

  • Montana Campaign Contributions
  • Gianforte’s Patch
  • Buildings & Planes & Goofballs

Montana Campaign Contributions:

The phones were probably busy Tuesday afternoon in Montana with candidates calling donors for money. Why? Because for at least a few hours there seemed to be no limits on how much a donor could give to non-federal candidates in Montana thanks to U.S. District Judge Charles Lovell of Helena.

MTN News initially reported that Lovell struck down Montana’s dollar limits on campaign contributions for state candidates, allowing unlimited donations just three weeks before the June 7 primary election.

But a few hours later, there were new (or old) limits put in place. But did they close the barn door too late, or do the people who closed the barn door even have the authority to do it?

The Associated Press (AP) reported that the Commissioner of Political Practices, Jonathan Motl, conferred with Attorney General Tim Fox, and then said he was reinstating limits that were in place prior to the initiative, with a slight adjustment for inflation.

Are you shaking your head yet? Fox and Motl seem to have discovered some new powers.

The AP reported on the Fox/Motl plan:

The contribution limit for gubernatorial candidates will rise to $1,990, up from a maximum of $1,300. Other statewide offices will now have limits of $990 per election cycle, including primary and general elections, up from $640 for candidates in contested primary races.

Prior to Tuesday’s ruling, Montana’s individual contribution limits were $170 for legislative candidates, $320 for attorney general candidates and $650 for gubernatorial candidates per election.

Are these new Fox/Motl limits enough “freedom of speech” for those who filed suit? I bet not.

I think Lovell is dead wrong on this ruling. Free speech is not money.

Gianforte’s Patch:

The long search is over. Yesterday at 10:53 a.m. the Gianforte campaign responded to my question about the identity of the patch on a jacket that Republican candidate for Governor Greg Gianforte was wearing in a couple of campaign commercials.

The patch seemed to have the word “Field” written on it, so I inquired about it a couple of times.

According to Aaron Flint of the Gianforte campaign and verified by the second-to-none research staff here at The Western Word (me), the patch is for a program called “Fathers in the Field.”

The jacket worn by Gianforte in the campaign ad appears to be a “Tahoe Fleece Bomber Jacket” which sells for a very reasonable price of $67.95 according to this website.

According to the “Fathers in the Field” website, the mission is “to rekindle and establish the spirit of boys who have been abandoned by their fathers; mentoring them one-on-one in life skills through outdoor activities, and by sharing a Christian understanding of our Heavenly Father’s love and sacrifice for His children.”

Sounds like a good program.

Thanks to the Gianforte team for being responsive to my inquiry – it would be great if other candidates were this responsive.

Buildings & Planes & Goofballs:

Three members of the state legislature, all Democrats, are planning to introduce a bill in the 2017 Legislature to prevent naming buildings or schools in the university system after candidates for elected office. The Democrats are Sen. Tom Facey, D-Missoula, Reps. Tom Woods, D-Bozeman, and Ryan Lynch, D-Butte. (Lee Newspapers)

Current Republican candidate for Governor, Greg Gianforte, wants to donate $8 million to Montana State University’s Computer Science Department. After the donation, it would be called the Gianforte School of Computing. Additionally, a room in the College of Engineering will also be called the Gianforte Auditorium.

Last week I said I liked Gianforte’s generosity, but it looks like he is trying to buy publicity and votes. Therefore, the Board of Regents should not approve it. If Gianforte is still feeling generous after the election, I’m sure his donation would still be accepted.

Previously, three Republicans announced they would introduce a bill to curtail the use of the state plane. They were unhappy the current Governor, Democrat Steve Bullock, regarding his use of the state plane. Sen. Mark Blasdel, R-Kalispell, and Reps. Ryan Osmundson, R-Buffalo, and Brad Tschida, R-Missoula, said their bill will prohibit the use of the state plane for traveling to state events within 120 miles of Helena.

Here’s my bottom line in regard to these little games. I sure hope Facey, Woods, Lynch, Blasdel, Osmundson, and Tschida read this (maybe someone will send them the link): All six of you look like whiney idiots. Grow up and try, just try, for once to act like statesmen.

The last three or four sessions of the Montana legislature have been an embarrassment – like a three-ring circus.

It looks like the clowns have arrived early for the circus of 2017.


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1 thought on “Montana Politics 2016: Three Things

  1. I raised $340 for my legislative election this year. Does that mean I have to send $10 to $20 back, and what if I don’t have that money anymore?

    I think this ruling sends the message that we should ignore campaign finance laws, as they’re so confusing and change so much. Jeez, let’s just not bother.

    I’m confident that the moment Nancy Keenan got done bemoaning these changes she and the top brass got into huddle and started figuring out who they could send mailers to to raise that extra bit of cash from each.

    Our system is broken.

    John Roberts on the U.S. Supreme Court gave it to us with his Citizen United ruling. So how do we fix the problems he gave us? Is it possible with Congress, with the president, with the states?

    We need to be talking about this everyday, or our legal bribery and corruption will only continue.

    Maybe it’s because I lived in China for 5 years, a place where they actually report on the bribes, and kill people for them. Here in the U.S. we seem to accept it as normal.

    That must end.

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