Wednesday Commentary: Government Travel

Ethics is knowing the difference between what you have a right to do and what is right to do. – Potter Stewart

You’ve probably heard about the members of the Trump Administration having problems with travel. Some are acting like a teenager with a new car and daddy’s credit card. So far, there are four who are under scrutiny for their travel.

Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price resigned. There should be more resignations because the folks who are screwing up all know better.

The latest mess deals with the head of the Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary, David Shulkin, who reportedly cruised the Thames, took in sight-seeing at Westminster Abbey, and watched a Wimbledon tennis match during a 10-day European trip with his wife. The trip was half business, half pleasure. (Fortune)

Montana’s own Ryan Zinke, who is now the Department of Interior Secretary, is one of the four cabinet members who are having some problems with travel.

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Monday’s Odds & Ends

Hello Monday – the last Monday of October! It’s time for another odds and ends edition from the past weekend! When there are several stories out there that I want to comment about, I combine them into one column and call it “Potpourri” or “Odds & Ends” or something catchy to get your attention.

Today’s topics include:

  • Ehrlick & Montana Family Foundation
  • Wittich’s Trial Delayed
  • Trump/Carson & Religion
  • Tea Party – Circling the Drain?

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Drones, Hummers, & License Plates

Readers might remember back in January I poked fun at a Missouri state representative for drafting legislation to prevent unmanned aerial aircraft from patrolling Missouri skies. The Associated Press reported that State Rep. Casey Guernsey, R-Bethany, “said widespread use of drones flying above Missouri scares him.”

The reason why I caught the Guernsey drone story is he represented the northern Missouri area where I lived many years ago.

After reading about Guernsey and the drones, I suggested he stay in his basement or build an underground bunker.

Apparently Guernsey is so afraid of those drones that he supposedly drives a black Hummer. I wonder what weaponry he carries in the Hummer.

In Missouri, besides being paid about $36K a year for part-time work, state representatives are Very Important People (VIP) so they can get license plates for their vehicles with “Representative” on them and their district number. I guess it kind of lets people know when VIPs are approaching. It also lets other drivers know when a VIP cuts them off in traffic, like Donald Dupske, who “is a 77-year-old retiree from McDonnell Douglas and a proud Mizzou alum” whom Guernsey supposedly cut off in traffic after a Mizzou football game.

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Commissioner Motl: A Dilemma

If you frequent the Montana Commissioner of Political Practices website very often like I do, you probably noticed that the new guy, Jonathan Motl, posted a sweet 525-word memo about his new job saying, “I love my job, it is the best job I have ever had.”

The first thing I thought after reading his memo was that he probably hasn’t had too many interesting jobs in his life and that he should probably get out of Helena more. That was right after I thought he should have spell-checked the memo. But nevertheless, Motl loves (or loved) his job as of June 24, 2013, and that is good news for Montanans in general and maybe for Democrats in particular. Continue reading

MT Political Practices: Fair and Impartial?

I’ve written several columns about the Montana Commissioner of Political Practices over the past few years, so today when I read that “Political practices commissioner donated to Bullock campaign in 2009” after he had made a recent ruling in favor of Attorney General Steve Bullock, I just shook my head.

The new State Political Practices Commissioner Dave Gallik was asked why he did not recuse himself given the fact that he donated to Bullock’s campaign.  He said, “I don’t believe I need to recuse myself.”

That’s pretty messed up – and that’s putting it mildly. The office of the Commissioner of Political Practices for Montana reminds me of the referees used for Harlem Globetrotters basketball games. Continue reading

Ending Weinergate

United States Representative Anthony Weiner represents New York’s 9th congressional district.  He has been in that seat since 1999.  Before that, Weiner was a New York City Councilman.  He is a member of the Democratic Party.

Personally I enjoy listening to Rep. Weiner’s tirades.  He believes the biggest mouth gets the attention – and he often does.  Now Weiner may have met his match and he needs our help!

Rep. Weiner is on Twitter (@RepWeiner) as are many elected officials.  Weiner’s Twitter account sent what some describe as a “lewd” photo to a 21 year-old female college student.  Now we all know that a Twitter account cannot just take a photo and send it; someone had to be pushing the buttons OR someone hacked into Weiner’s Twitter account (that is what was first reported by Weiner’s staff).  Now it’s being called a prank. Weiner supposedly has retained an attorney. Continue reading

Dirty Rotten Campaigning

If you’re a regular reader of The Western Word you know that I have offered my commentary about the automated phone calls (Robocalls) conducted during campaigns. I don’t care for them.

They are also against Montana law (MCA 45-8-216).

According to the Associated Press (AP), the Montana Commissioner of Political Practices “ruled last month that Citizens for Strong Law Enforcement should be penalized for thousands of automated phone calls to voters…”

88,400 calls…made way back in mid 2008. I believe I received one of those calls. The harm and the pain, not to mention the valuable time it cost me, is worth about a half a million… Continue reading