Montana FINALLY repeals law criminalizing homosexuality


The number of Americans who oppose marriage equality is dwindling fast, but it appears many of those remaining homophobes are representing Montana in the legislature.  In spite of the 34 representatives who voted today to retain Montana’s antiquated law criminalizing homosexual sex.  The statute, which classifies homosexuality as sexual deviance, on par with bestiality has been declared unconstitutional in a 1997 decision by Montana’s Supreme Court, but that fact is apparently of no consequence to these representatives, including Rep. Champ Edmunds (R-Missoula)  who is currently running for the Republican candidate for US Senate.  Ten senators earlier voted against repealing this law.

The final House vote tally on SB 107 is as follows:

SB 107 vote tabulation

 

And the Senate:

SB 107 Senate votes

In case you missed it yesterday, Representative Duane Ankney (R-Colstrip) provided testimony in support of repealing Montana’s ugly and embarrassing law.  Watch his testimony here.  Another Republican supported repealing the law for very different reasons, from the Billings Gazette, (emphasis mine)

Rep. Jonathan McNiven, R- Huntley, said voting for the bill doesn’t mean he endorses homosexuality.

“I don’t support this type of lifestyle,” he said. “I think we need to keep our eye on the ball and start promoting marriage as a union between a man and a woman. …

“But that’s not what this bill says. I am going to vote for this bill because we still love these people. We want to help these people. Every one of us is not perfect.”

Rep. Hagstrom (R-Billings) said he voted no on SB 107 because gay sex doesn’t reproduce people and therefore is a deviant act.  Rep Krayton Kerns (R-Laurel) naturally evoked religion as his justification for opposing the bill, claiming it was his moral obligation not to pass the legislation. “There is an enormous biblical principle here. There is a truth. I know public opinion may be swaying with the time but the truth does not sway and so it was default to scripture.”

Despite the hateful church crowd, the time has finally come to repeal Montana’s law criminalizing gay sex. After 20 years of failed attempts- who could forget last session’s “gay recruiting” testimony by Rep Ken Peterson (R-Billings)-  a repeal decidedly passed both houses and is headed to Governor Bullock’s desk, awaiting a certain signature.

Congratulations to sponsors Sen. Tom Facey ( D-Missoula), Nicholas Schwaderer (R-Superior), Rep. Ellie Hill (D-Missoula);  the other legislators who supported this bill as well as Montana’s LGBT community.  It is time that Montana puts this law in our past.

Take some time to thank the Republicans who did the right thing in voting for SB 107.    For those who didn’t, I guess we could pray for them?

 

Bagging a Baguette: MT GOP/TEA’s Jennifer Olsen too racist for KKK


KKKAmid accounts that the Yellowstone County Republican Central Committee (!warning! aesthetically obnoxious webpage design) has been reported to the Southern Poverty Law Center for consideration as a hate group as long as Jennifer Olsen is the chairwoman, it occurred to me that Olsen may soon be looking for political work in other states.  I briefly considered that the Ku Klux Klan was perhaps hiring but soon discovered this. That’s right…. the KKK is now under Christian leadership and is hoping to shed its racist reputation.  Shucks.  The KKK’s membership is down while other hate groups are enjoying tremendous growth.  One has to wonder if the Klan members were simply absorbed into the Tea Party or even (gasp!) the GOP.

Olsen, the embattled Chairwoman of the Yellowstone County Republicans and co-founder of Montana Shrugged, TEA Party Patriots, managed to attract quite a lot of media attention after posting a racist photo shortly after she was honored in the Billings Gazette‘s “40 Under 40″ segment recognizing Yellowstone County’s upstanding twenty and thirty-somethings.  The photo, which depicted a watermelon trap designed to catch President Obama appears to have trapped none other than Olsen herself.  Montanafesto posted a link to the Yellowstone County Republicans Facebook page and officers of the group almost immediately defended the racist post and projected allegations on to the author of the post.  It appears that breaking the sacred “11th Commandment” is an offense more egregious than overt bigotry.  Screenshots below. Yellowstone County Republicansthread

1  Yellowstone County Republicanskenat

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Even a former Montana legislator (Rep. James Knox (R), HD 47) disagreed that the post was racist and alleged that I instead was the racist.

knoxious

A Yellowstone County Republican Central Committeeman forwarded a board member of the YCRCC several links depicting the GOP in a negative light.  His response was “It seems they are linking it more to TEA party and not GOP. ”  Apparently that excuses the gaffe.

According to the editor of Billings Blog, in response to a question emailed by one of the Billings Outpost’s journalists, Jennifer’s response included the following (note, all grammatical errors hers).

“The blog posting this about me is all fabricated. This is not the first time they have made up stories about me as writer, nicole french, and I had a falling out a few years ago and since then she writes this nonsense.
“Liberals always try to take our focus away from real issues by doing things like this. It is absolutely not true.”

So there you have it.  It is the fault of liberals.  Problem is, montanafesto isn’t liberal.

For those of you who have missed some of the attention our resident racist has attracted, I’ve compiled just a taste of the negative exposure Montana is receiving as a result.

Montanafesto    Daily Kos    Montana Cowgirl      4 and 20 Blackbirds      Billings Blog     Montana Streetfighter  The New Civil Rights Movement   Patheos    Hackwhackers   Drasties   and the list goes on and on.

Olsen is apparently hiding something as she also changed the privacy settings of the Yellowstone County Republicans from “open” to “secret”.

Olsen changed the privacy of the group Yellowstone County Republicans from Open to Secret.   nicolefrench88 gmail.com   Gmail copy

 

And since we are discussing bigotry, the following reading material was delivered to each Montana legislator this morning just in time for a House Judiciary Hearing on whether to repeal Montana’s archaic and unconstitutional law making homosexual sex a felony punishable by a decade in prison. Perhaps the hateful YCRCC is responsible, or perhaps not.  I have a sneaking suspicion that the culprit is not a Democrat.

sodomites

Before anyone comments (again) that a watermelon under a cardboard box intended to trap the President is not racist, I invite you to peruse this link.   To disagree with a President’s policies is inherently American but to poke fun at his color using well-known racist stereotypes makes us all look bad.  Montana Republicans deserve an apology from Jennifer Olsen.  I won’t hold my breath.  I would like to think that perhaps this happened because Ms. Olsen is naive about social media, but the following screenshot taken from the Yellowstone Republican Women’s Facebook page suggests otherwise, Olsen claims to be the organization’s “media guru”.

jennifer olsen media guru

I wasn’t prepared to be called a lazy pothead, drug dealer, shameless liar, a failure of a person, unapologetically divisive, or (drum roll please) a Democrat for exposing a political figure as a bigot. I’m offended.

If you too are offended and embarrassed by the racism displayed by this group through its chairperson and other officers,  contact Jennifer Olsen at 406-672-1170 or email jolsen@augustenergy.net. Her Facebook account has reportedly been deactivated but the url is http://facebook.com/noczars and her Twitter account is @oilpatchkid.  Tell your legislators, the Montana GOP, the YCRCC, The Billings Gazette, The Dickinson Press and the world that Montana is intolerant of bigotry.

 

Racism and the Yellowstone County Republican Central Committee Chair


olsenJennifer Olsen, a petroleum engineer who was unemployed for years while the oil and gas  industry was booming around her was recently honored in the Billings Gazette’s annual “40 under 40″ segment.  The newspaper lists her many jobs, never mentioning that each employer was actually her father (Eric Olsen)  and the companies were often idle due to “government oppression” or some other excuse Jennifer and Eric Olsen used while soliciting donations to progress their political agenda.  During their long period of unemployment, Jennifer and her father founded Montana Shrugged, a “tea party” group that advocates selective federalism and operates in a divisive and dishonest manner.  Jennifer Olsen also holds the chairwoman position on the Yellowstone County Republican Central Committee.  In her free time, she files frivolous and unfounded political practices complaints and apparently scours the internet searching for racist anti-Obama material.

My disdain for the Olsen family is obvious.  Posts like the one captured in the following screenshot from Jennifer Olsen’s Facebook page today are why.

olsen screenshot

Thanks to the first amendment, Americans are able to think whatever they would like as well as express those thoughts, but such expression does has consequences.  I discourage Yellowstone County Republican precinct chairs and legislators from turning a blind eye to this blatantly racist post.  If Ms Olsen is not held responsible for her actions, we send a message that this behavior is acceptable and perhaps these views are even condoned by the GOP.  The Republican Party was founded on abolishing slavery.  Why do we now tolerate our leaders advocating bigotry in a public forum? Bigotry is rooted in ignorance and the Republican Party should purge this cancer from the party.  Shame on you, Jennifer Olsen.  You are a disgrace to your party, to the central committee you chair,  to Montana, and to America.

UPDATE:  According to David Crisp of Billings Blog, in a question post by a Billings Outpost freelancer, Jennifer Olsen responded as follows:

“The blog posting this about me is all fabricated. This is not the first time they have made up stories about me as writer, nicole french, and I had a falling out a few years ago and since then she writes this nonsense.
“Liberals always try to take our focus away from real issues by doing things like this. It is absolutely not true.”

 

AGAINST Senate Bill 423


Whether you are a Republican, Democrat, or something else entirely, please vote AGAINST Senate Bill 423.  Disease and suffering transcend political ideology and this bill hurts the people that Montana’s medical marijuana program was enacted to protect.  Any questions?

Montana Cannabis Voter’s Guide 2012


As always, cannabis law reform is a big campaign issue this election year although Montana’s “moral” majority is unlikely to acknowledge that inconvenient fact.  Montanans understand that there is nothing “moral” about maintaining harsh criminal penalties, limiting (and in most cases, eliminating) access to necessary medicines, and allowing and/or inviting federal intervention in our state’s medical marijuana program.  We are confident that Montana will vote accordingly.

The 2012 Montana Cannabis Voter’s Guide serves as a resource for Montana voters who consider liberty a priority.  In numerous districts, prohibitionists are running unopposed unfortunately, but in others, we have an opportunity to make a difference.  We’ve compiled statements, video from previous sessions, actual voting records, endorsements and other sources of information when deciding if a candidate is supportive or opposed to our cause. We have heard very little from some candidates but are hopeful we will know more by the time that absentee ballots arrive in our mailboxes in a few weeks.      As we are apprised of new information-  additional MTCIA endorsements, statements to the media, etc- this guide will be updated to reflect such data.

Should any candidates or voters have any questions about specific races or candidates or wish to provide relevant information, please email Nic (montanafesto@live.com).

Ken Miller Campaign Above the Law


In a blunder only a true idiot could make, the Ken Miller campaign robo-called the Montana Commissioner of Political Practices office yesterday.  Automated, or “robo” calls are illegal under Montana law.  When confronted about the calls, Miller said he thought that former Attorney General Mike McGrath had declared the law “unenforceable”. Hmm.  I suppose I would consider Montana’s law prohibiting homosexuality unenforceable considering it has been held unconstitutional, but I’m pretty sure when your campaign is stupid enough to call the COPP, which is already investigating a complaint alleging rampant campaign finance fraud in the Miller campaign, that you deserve to be prosecuted.  In reality, McGrath did not declare the law unenforceable anyway, in 2004, he issued a press release reminding campaigns that such activity was illegal.  Commissioner Murry has referred the case to the Lewis & Clark County Attorney Leo Gallagher.  Although robo call cases have not be prosecuted in the past, Gallagher did not rule out the possibility.  Most likely, the Miller campaign will be sent a letter warning that such campaign activity is illegal.

Earlier this week,  Ken Miller asked that the campaign finance fraud complaint alleged by a former campaign employee be dismissed because he believed the uncertainty could cloud early voting.  The political practices office declined to dismiss the complaint and says the investigation will continue.

Call Ken Miller’s cell phone number (406) 670-8318 and ask him why he believes he is above the law.  Then ask yourself if someone this dull is suited to serve as Governor of our great state.

Not All Outlaws are Criminals: “Code of the West” Film Review


On the eve of the day in which approximately half of all voting Montanans will receive their 2012 primary election mail-in ballots, I dedicated some time to reviewing “Code of the West“, a documentary account of the rise and fall of Montana’s medical marijuana industry, thanks to the Montana Legislature’s obsession with eliminating this “scourge” from Montana.  Directed by Rebecca Richman Cohen, an Emmy award nominated filmmaker, “Code of the West” was a grim but generally accurate portrayal of the events surrounding Montana’s 62nd legislative session.  The footage of our great state was beautiful and the final result was a truly impartial look at medical marijuana in Montana.

Medical marijuana is a contentious issue in Montana and emotions run high on all sides of the topic. Richman Cohen accomplished something I thought was impossible.  While still unlikable, I didn’t despise Cherrie Brady, whose group “Safe Community, Safe Kids” was largely responsible for the rapid decline of legislative support for regulatory marijuana legislation,  nearly as much as I did during the legislative session.  The movie portrayed Brady as someone who was convinced of her beliefs and obviously committed to maintaining the lies behind prohibition.  It seems like many religious people feel they need to remove all temptation and risk from the lives of their children and spouses in order to live a virtuous existence and Cherrie is no exception.  With those thoughts in mind, I have decided she is no longer deserving of my enmity, I’ve decided instead to pity her.  Education is the key to overcoming ignorance, but first we must overcome fear.

I am very thankful that some of the clowns Montanans elected to represent us in our legislature won’t be returning in the 2013 session.  Mike Milburn, Speaker of the House and sponsor of HB 161, the marijuana repeal bill is termed out of the house.  Rep. James Knox, sobbing on cue in the documentary footage as he claimed the repeal was necessary to “save other people’s brothers” from the evils of marijuana, has thankfully moved to Texas.  The entire house of representatives and over half of the senate is up for reelection this June (primary) and November (general election).

Although each election is portrayed as the most important in our lifetime, this election is crucial to Montana’s future.  Marijuana didn’t destroy our state’s rough and tough cowboy image… the blame for that is placed squarely on our elected officials. They are quick to tell the feds to stay out of our healthcare, let us deal with our own wolves, and that they will pry our guns from our cold, dead hands yet when marijuana providers were being raided and robbed by our government, they not only didn’t protest, they welcomed federal intrusion.  Montana isn’t represented by strong, rugged leaders, we have spineless yes-men eager to toe the party line to protect their political future.  It is time we stand up to them and send a serious message on election day, that we are a force to be reckoned with.

Much has occurred since completion of the documentary.  Parts of SB 423, the legislature’s virtual repeal of Montana’s medical marijuana law have yet to be implemented as a result of a temporary court injunction.  Naturally, the state of Montana has appealed that ruling and oral arguments are scheduled before Montana’s Supreme Court on May 30.  Countless Montanans have lost everything they own as a result of asset forfeiture, whether or not they were ever indicted by the feds.  Those who were indicted also lost their freedom to the federal government’s unconscionable war on drugs.  Tom Daubert, one of the film’s primary characters, an indicted co-owner of Montana Cannabis, has cut a deal with the government as have nearly all of those indicted as a result of the March 2011 raids.  So far, nobody has been brave enough to test the government in court and the feds have in most cases offered very attractive deals to cooperative witnesses.  Perhaps though, the tides are changing.  Chris Lindsey, one of Daubert’s former business partners plans to take the case to trial.  Although he essentially faces a mandatory minimum life sentence, he believes in the cause enough to fight for his freedom and thus, for our rights.  As Chris faces a lifetime behind bars, the least we can all do is show up in vast numbers to vote for the candidates who are friendly to our cause.  For more information on those candidates, see the 2012 Montana Cannabis Voters Guide.  As more information becomes available, the guide will be updated.  Primary elections are Tuesday, June 5.

Want to see “Code of the West” for yourself?  Screenings of the film will be shown in cities across Montana May 15 – May 23.  For details on dates, times and locations- as well as information about the discussion panels to follow the screening, check this link.  We realize that this is an emotional issue,  but we would ask that those attending the screening refrain from any negative behavior.  We have the truth on our side, why contribute to the inaccurate image our opposition has painted for us?  Tolerance may not provide instant gratification, but in the end, it will be worth it.

Pastimes of the Virtuous


                                                                                                                                             

Righteous David Howard, whose is apparently a minister of the Lord, enjoys very interesting videos in his spare time.

Screenshots like this don’t require further commentary.  Thankfully Rep. David Howard, of Montana’s GOP God Squad infamy, has a contested primary June 5.  Republicans may want to check out his conservative competition- Kathy Harman and Dale Milligan.  Democrat Jim Dickey will face the winner of the primary in November to battle for HD 60.

Other than that, I’m pretty speechless.

 

UPDATED: Honest Abe or Smarmy Swindler: Who is the Real Ken Miller?


A Pinocchio costume may be more appropriate

In the nick of time, about a week before absentee ballots are mailed, the Great Falls Tribune today broke shocking allegations of GOP Gubernatorial hopeful Ken Miller‘s corrupt campaign finance practices. View the Office of Political Practices complaint here. According to the Tribune,

Republican gubernatorial hopeful Ken Miller’s former chief fundraiser on Wednesday accused Miller’s campaign of misreporting funds, accepting campaign donations over the statutory contribution limits, accepting anonymous donations, and failing to disclose certain campaign expenditures.

Ken Miller’s utterly laughable response appeared in today’s Billings Gazette:

“We’re obviously viewed as a threat and seen as a front-runner,” Miller said in a telephone interview. “I think for the most part people will see through it.”

Miller, the tea people favorite, bills himself as the honest, Christian conservative.  In fact, his own campaign website humbly mentions,

 It has been whispered that Ken Miller is “too honest for politics”.   Ken Miller is guilty as charged.

In his latest campaign video, Susan Smith, wife of legislator Cary Smith and co-founder of the delightful group “Safe Community, Safe Kids” extols the many virtues of Mr. Miller.  According to Susan, who “knows Ken to be a humble, God-fearing man”, Miller believes in traditional family values and the sanctity of life.  She says “he is a man in whom we can trust”, that he believes in the Constitution and would uphold it.  One supporter mentions how she and her husband met Ken Miller at a parade in which he was donning an Abraham Lincoln costume.  All very interesting.  Watch the campaign video here.

According to Kelly Bishop, who served as his campaign finance director from January until April 14, when she resigned, she found at least $14,000 in campaign contributions that were not reported in Miller’s C-5.  Bishop said she left the position with the Miller campaign after seeing practices within the campaign that made her sick to her stomach. She claims that numerous anonymous donations and credit card transactions were not reported properly, that Miller accepted donations over Montana’s statutory limits and that Miller wasn’t reporting payroll taxes.  This directly affected Bishop’s pay as her salary was commission based on the total fundraising receipts she generated. Bishop said:

“I inquired about it in March, I brought it up to Ken and (his wife) Peggy at the time.  They said it was none of my business and I was not to worry about that part of the campaign.”

Naturally, Miller denies her allegations and throws Bishop under the bus states,

 “My family, campaign staff and I hold no ill will toward Mrs. Bishop, but are saddened by her decision to attack our campaign with frivolous, untruthful accusations. We’ve run an honest campaign and are confident that the (Commissioner) will agree.”

In response, Miller said, “We’ve run an honest campaign and are confident that the COPP (commissioner of political practices) will agree.”

“We kind of got blindsided. Unfortunately, she’s not being truthful.”

These allegations cast serious doubt not only on Miller’s integrity, but on his ability to govern our state.  Even if these discrepancies are proven to be unintentional, how on earth can we trust him as Governor of the state of Montana?  The Miller campaign is usually the first to lob nasty allegations at the other candidates and party insiders have long, borrowing Ken’s word, “whispered” that Miller mismanaged funds as State Chairman of the Republican Party.  Perhaps this is simply political karma.

These allegations will surely come as a disappointment to Miller’s base- the conservative, Christian, constitutional segment of Montanans.   In a crowded (7 way) Republican Gubernatorial campaign, this is likely the end for the Miller campaign.  For the family values conservatives, I would suggest donating to the Corey Stapleton campaign and for the mermaid/insurance/lobbyist/quitter lovers out there, Rick Hill.

Bishop’s sudden departure isn’t the only shake up within the Miller camp, his former campaign manager William Mutch’s tenure with the sinking ship was similarly brief. One can only imagine why Mr Mutch abruptly left the campaign, especially after stating on the campaign website that his entire career had culminated on that moment.  I tend to be especially critical of religious hypocrites, remember Harris Himes? I can only imagine how disheartened Miller’s supporters are right now.   I think it is time Ken Miller finds a new costume for parades, Honest Abe doesn’t seem fitting.  Might I suggest Pinocchio?

Tampering Jury Pools with Federal “Truth”


Today Montana’s headlines blare “Federal Warrant Issued for 1980’s Montana Mountain Man” after federal indictments of former partners of the now-defunct medical marijuana business, Montana Cannabis Inc. were unsealed.  Montana’s media offers a sensational headline as well as a dramatic, emotional story to match- that is, if you are willing to buy the federal government’s version of the truth.

You may recall the story of the Nichols duo, Don and his son Dan, who kidnapped world class biathlete Kari Swenson while she was training in the mountains near Big Sky, Montana.   The notorious Montana “mountain men” also murdered one of Swenson’s friends after he stumbled upon their hideout in the woods.  Kari Swenson’s lung was punctured after Dan Nichols accidentally shot her during an armed standoff. She survived the injury and went on to win a bronze medal in the world biathlon championships after being rescued.  Dan Nichols was released in 1991 after serving six years in prison for the crimes.  His father is still in prison but is up for parole April 27.

Dan Nichols has been charged as an indicted co-conspirator with Chris Williams as well as Chris Lindsey, a Missoula attorney who actually left Montana Cannabis in January of 2010.  What is so outrageous about the indictment is the bizarre conspiracy that the government has invented.  First of all, Chris Lindsey, to the best of his knowledge, has never laid eyes upon Dan Nichols, nor has he heard of him.  He was apparently brought on board by Chris Williams, who remained with Montana Cannabis until March of 2011, when federal raids shut down the business.

Apparently, in the eyes of the feds, if you are EVER involved with a “criminal enterprise”, you are not allowed to quit.  You are also responsible for all  crimes that are committed by any subsequent partner or employee of said “criminal enterprise” for eternity.  Fourteen months prior to the 2011 federal raids, Chris Lindsey left Montana Cannabis after disputes over the manner in which the business was being operated.  Apparently that isn’t good enough for the feds.  He is now being lumped in with a kidnapper and murderer who he has never met, never spoken to, never even heard of.  Why?  Because sexy stories sell newspapers and when people read them, they believe them.  The feds know that prohibition is on shaky ground in the US, jurors across the nation are not only expressing reluctance to convict marijuana “criminals”, many consider prosecution of these people, especially in states that have legalized medical use of marijuana, to be a colossal waste of taxpayer funds.   Fortunately for the feds, the media is easily manipulated.  We already know the truth doesn’t matter to US federal government as marijuana wouldn’t be illegal if they were interested in science or any factual evidence.  They continue to promote their failed policies by utilizing fear.  Americans are afraid of crazed, murderous mountain men who would dare kidnap a world-class athlete.  Dan Nichols is considered armed and dangerous.  I certainly wouldn’t approach him, that fear is most likely warranted.  Chris Lindsey, on the other hand, is someone I would trust to watch my daughter.  He is a kind, compassionate intellectual.  He is an educated professional.  He isn’t a firearm enthusiast and he isn’t the least bit violent.  The actual truth isn’t nearly as scandalous though, so the feds will do their best to ensure Chris Lindsey’s story is suppressed.  It appears that the indictment of the exciting “mountain man” was necessary to substantiate the sentences Chris Lindsey is facing for spending 10 months as in-house legal counsel for Montana Cannabis, if convicted of the federal crimes in which he is accused- mandatory minimum sentences total 690 years.

Another former partner of Montana Cannabis, Tom Daubert, who authored Montana’s original medical marijuana law, is scheduled to offer a guilty plea to a federal charge of “conspiracy to maintain a drug-involved premises” on May 3.  Like Lindsey, Daubert divested his interest in Montana Cannabis long before the raids.  Why he wasn’t also indicted with Williams, Nichols, and Lindsey is unclear at this time.

The recent indictments as well as sentences handed down to others charged and convicted (via plea deals) as a result of the March 2011 raids have indicated that Montana’s state law umbrella offers zero protection from federal prosecution, whether the accused was operating in “clear and unambiguous compliance with state law” or not. One can only wonder why Montana’s DPHHS employees, legislators who pretended to deliver created regulatory legislation, and electric companies (the only REAL marijuana millionaires in the state) are not also indicted co-conspirators.

Montana’s Politicians… An Impotent Lot


We tell the feds to get lost when it comes to healthcare, wolves, and guns, but those we elected beg for help from the federal government to enforce marijuana laws? Please.

Today we learned that Montana medical marijuana advocate Tom Daubert was able to negotiate a plea deal with federal prosecutors. Daubert is the founder of Patients and Families United, a medical marijuana advocacy group. He was influential in the drafting of I-148, the initiative that Montana voters approved overwhelmingly to legalize medical marijuana in 2004.  Daubert was also a one of a handful of partners in Montana Cannabis, one of several caregivers who were raided in March of 2011.  Others involved in Montana Cannabis have not been quite so fortunate as they were recently indicted on multiple federal counts of conspiracy, cultivation, and gun charges.  According to news reports,  Daubert has agreed to plead guilty to a charge of “conspiracy to maintain a drug-involved premises”. Unlike the charges Daubert’s former partners are facing, his doesn’t carry a mandatory minimum sentence.  Recent federal cases have indicated that this is an increasingly common charge by the feds- especially when cases against the accused are relatively weak and built primarily on circumstantial evidence.

Montana’s indicted cannabis caregivers have accepted plea deals featuring significant charge and sentence reductions (most sentences range from 6 – 18 months in federal prison) although they were also subject to massive asset forfeitures and additional fines.  So far though, it appears nearly everyone has been negotiating with the feds, but what happens to those who refuse the plea deals?

Lindsey's legal practice is built upon helping clients adhere to state law. He now faces mandatory minimum sentences of 690 years as a result.

Take, for instance; Chris Lindsey.  He is a soft-spoken, educated, non-violent intellectual. He is a husband and a father to a young son.  Lindsey, a Missoula attorney, served as in-house legal counsel for Montana Cannabis (yes, Tom Daubert’s company) for less than a year.  He left the company a full fourteen months before the March 2011 raids that preceded these federal indictments.  He was indicted last week on a long list of federal conspiracy, drug, and gun charges.  The guns weren’t his. He wasn’t a drug dealer and as far as conspiracy goes, well, I suppose I’m breaking some of those federal statutes simply by writing this post.  Chris has built his legal practice around helping Montana’s medical marijuana patients adhere to state law.  He has not been accused of breaking any of Montana’s statutes and yet he is unable legally to use his clear compliance with state law in his federal defense.  He says he can’t accept a plea deal on something he believes in. So what does that mean for Chris?  Brace yourself.

Mandatory minimums on his charges amass sentences of 690 years in federal prison.  Maximum sentences are 25 consecutive life terms plus an additional 85 years.  What purpose do we serve by incarcerating a productive professional with no history of criminal activity- someone who has never been accused of any sort of violence?  This is a travesty of epic proportions.  Keep in mind that there is no parole in federal prison and that convicts must serve 85% of their sentences.  Doesn’t this make you wonder why those who make a deal (thus maintaining frightening and artificially high federal conviction rates ) are criminals who upon acceptance of a plea deal, are instantly benign enough to warrant sentences averaging one year yet those who value their principles enough to defend them in a court of law are scary enough for consecutive life sentences?

Our state government allows this injustice, without so much as a complaint. While politicians from other states protest the federal crackdown medical marijuana, those from Montana are silent. Montana politicians typically claim to exhibit a sort of libertarian-streak that is native to our people- people who just want to be left alone.  In reality however, our politicians are pussies.  Nearly every one of them.  They are too worried about being reelected to actually take a stand to protect the very people who elected them.  From our Congressional delegation to our local sheriffs, Montana politicians LOVE federal intervention on marijuana cases.  In fact, instead of actually working with our existing state law, state law enforcement often refused to prosecute those in defiance of the law in order to set up a repeal of I-148 in our last legislative session.  Rumor has it, to ensure a repeal, our elected officials even worked with federal agents to schedule a key legislative vote simultaneously with dramatic federal raids taking place in the state capital, as well as cities across the state.  On one Republican state representative’s Facebook page, he declared immediately after the raids  “Praise the Lord and Praise the Feds”.  I guess these faux Libertarian-minded Montanans believe they can deal with everything on the state level- healthcare, wolves, guns- everything but the “scourge of Montana” (yes, another state legislator called it that), marijuana.

Our governor, Brian Schweitzer, did absolutely nothing to protect Montanans from federal intervention.  Rep. Denny Rehberg and Sen. Jon Tester are fighting for Tester’s US Senate seat.  Conveniently, neither of them have stood up to federal medical marijuana intervention.  Max Baucus recently announced his intent to run for reelection in 2014- has he taken a stand?  Nope.  Our attorney general, Steve Bullock, who has continuously opposed legislation as well as legal maneuvers designed to protect patients, now wants to be our governor.  Nearly all of the prohibitionists in our state legislature are running for either reelection or election to yet another state office.  If our state governments refuse to protect us from the tyrannical federal government by use of the “supremacy clause” and a disgustingly broad interpretation of the commerce clause via Raich v Gonzales, what is the point of having state governments at all?
As we head farther into campaign season, let me remind you all that politicians are the biggest criminals alive.  We reward them with our votes and pay them healthy salaries with our taxes. We subsidize the failed war on drugs by allowing our government to perpetuate violent crime on our borders in the name of security. I am BEGGING you all, please do NOT disappoint me.  Get your asses out June 5 in primary elections and don’t you DARE neglect to vote in the general election November 6.   I do not feel safer with Chris Lindsey behind bars- or Tom Daubert, for that matter, do you?

Montana’s politicians are vacillating, submissive cowards and it is high time for some outrage from Montana’s citizens, this is embarrassing. 

Yellowstone County GOP Chair’s Smear Machine Targets Innocent Candidate for Governor


“I am blessed with a great deal of energy, which I use to help our community elect Republicans.”- Jennifer Olsen.

But only SOME county Republicans apparently…. Jennifer Olsen, co-founder of Montana Shrugged Tea Party Patriots and current chairperson of the Yellowstone County Republican Central Committee has recently leveled baseless accusations against a rival GOP Gubernatorial campaign.  You may recall that only a few months ago, Ms Olsen was the administrator for the Ken Miller for Governor Facebook page, but it now appears that she has either abandoned the group of green-shirted morons in favor of the Neil Livingstone campaign or she was simply thrown overboard.  Now acting as Livingstone’s unofficial spokesperson on the Montana political blog rounds, commenting as “Drill Baby Drill”, she can be found typically lauding the many virtues of Mr Livingstone.  While I take no issue with her loyal support of her favored candidate, I am disappointed and frankly appalled that the leader of Yellowstone County’s Republican Central Committee has chosen the incredibly un-classy- and public- route of accusing a rival campaign of creating a depraved anti-war website featuring pornographic photos of Mr. Livingstone when literally ZERO evidence supports her claim. Check out her comments below, which were made on this Montana Cowgirl post.

Keep drilling, Ms Olsen. Perhaps you will eventually discover reality.

You may also recall this video clip featuring Ms Olsen.

I’m a Uniter, Not a Divider!

Ms. Olsen shockingly offers no evidence to reinforce her claims that the Stapleton for Montana Governor campaign was involved in any capacity in the creation of the pornographic anti-war website.  Stapleton, former Montana Senate Minority Leader raised more money than the other GOP candidates for Governor last quarter, while the other campaigns, including Livingstone’s, continued to struggle.  Perhaps the Montana Republican Party should ask whether it is in good taste for Central Committee leaders to smear rival GOP campaigns.  *On a side note, Olsen’s attack on the Stapleton campaign should be enough evidence for most Montanans to support his bid for Governor.  After all, he is obviously not enough Teatard to pass muster with the Queen of the Tea People.  I suggest making a donation immediately.

One is left to wonder why a world-renowned international security and counter terrorism expert (Mr. Livingstone) has not determined the source of the website.  Perhaps he designed it himself.  After all, it does depict him in a dominant and quite flattering manner. Also perplexing is that Mr Stapleton, a former naval officer, would be accused of making a site devoted to exposing war criminals.

Unfortunately for Ms. Olsen, Screwingamerica.com is actually registered to David Lambon.  Perhaps the guilty culprit is the dude in the photo below, who does vaguely resemble Mr.  Livingstone’s lucky lover in the pornographic cartoons.

His domain information is all available here…. In the future, I advise Ms Olsen to conduct even a minimum level of research before making such wild allegations.  Tin Foil Hat Warning: Perhaps she believes the Stapleton camp is in bed with Mr Lambon (not literally, we hope).  This isn’t likely either considering the site was created in 2008 and hasn’t been updated since 2010. All porn images on the site are of a homosexual nature.  It does appear that Ms Olsen intended only to throw some mud at Stapleton, hoping to slow the campaign’s momentum in an effort to assist her candidate.  Livingstone is a smart guy, I suspect he will quickly distance himself from the Olsen train wreck as Ken Miller did.

Thinking Republicans in Yellowstone County (I know there are some) would best question Ms. Olsen’s ability to lead the Republican Central Committee in the state’s most populous county in such an important election year.  All candidates should be highly uncomfortable with the chairperson of the county GOP inventing elaborate stories about candidates she opposes.  Hotly contested primaries are contentious enough without party leaders involving themselves in libelous claims.  Ms. Olsen should step down from her position and offer everyone involved a sincere apology.

Antisocial conservatism: Jesus, please protect me from your followers


The socially conservative members of today’s Republican Party tout their moral superiority at every opportunity.  When one of them is caught violating those precious family values, they are quick with excuses like “God has forgiven me” or “Blame it on my undying patriotism.”  What exactly does “family values” mean to the GOP arbiters of virtue?

Marriage is sacred:  This means marriage between a man and a woman.  Cheat on your spouse, divorce, marry the mistress, that is your business. Pre-marital sex is taboo and allowing any access to contraception would lead to an epidemic of immoral sexual activity.  Extramarital sex is none of our business, though.  Shhh.  Gays should not have the right to marry because such acts endanger the sanctity of traditional marriage.  Marriage, you see, is an agreement with society.  It is easy to understand how such an agreement between two same-gendered humans who are committed to one another would threaten the very core of American families.  For this reason, much of our time and resources are spent fighting all attempts to legitimize state-supported legal “rights” for an unnatural and unhealthy lifestyle condemned by God.  Thankfully we have heroes like Dr. Marcus Bachmann whose “pray away the gay” clinics have given homosexuals opportunities to cleanse themselves of the demons that influenced their choice to be gay.   Note: This can all be explained

All human life is precious.  Stem cells, embryos, and fetuses cannot protect themselves so we have  a moral responsibility to legislate and regulate proper treatment of unborn life. After birth though, watch out.  If you need medical care and cannot afford it, ask your church, I’m sure they will provide.  If you would like to use cannabis to relieve pain, sorry; that would require violating the law, which is immoral.  (See War section). If you have a terminal illness and would like to die with dignity, our religious beliefs require you to suffer,  but we do promise to pray for your eternal salvation.  God works in mysterious ways and you never know when to expect a miracle.  If you commit a heinous crime- like selling marijuana- we believe the death penalty is justified.  All life is precious so we remain committed to eliminating access to abortion, abolishing stem cell research, preventing death with dignity/assisted suicides, and to ensuring that depraved criminals are rewarded with death.  If you happen to be a suspected terrorist, add torture to the list.  And don’t you dare bring science into our schools.  Note: Education enhances rational thinking and provides people with rational, non-mystical mechanisms for understanding the world. 

War, the price of Freedom. We never met a war we didn’t like, but if we are criticized, we will call you unpatriotic.  After all, our soldiers are giving their lives to ensure we remain free.  Speaking of free, did I mention we incarcerate more people per capita than any other nation on earth?  This is to keep you safe.  Speaking of safety, did I mention the Patriot Act?  We named it such to promote unconstitutional acts as essential to fighting the global War on Terror.  We generally only use the Patriot Act to spy on suspected drug dealers, but this is to keep your children safe.  You don’t want your kids addicted to drugs now, do you? Marijuana is only a stepping stone toward addiction to methamphetamine and heroin, culminating in near-certain death which in itself justifies the War on Drugs.  Note: Violence and herd mentalities reign supreme in a low-IQ idiocracy. 

Less government, more freedom. We believe in personal responsibility. We want the government out of our lives, but only after we have eliminated prostitution, pornography, homosexual sex, drugs and other sinful behaviors from our nation.  We owe it to our children to remove all temptation from our lives so we can remain free.  Just wait until you experience the sort of freedom we have after all choice is eliminated.  Note: religion helps people confront the terror of uncertainty in their lives. 

In time, education and evolution will hopefully bring upon the extinction of the Social Conservative Big Government Statist.  The ideology is simply too contradictory to endure.  Dedicated followers of peace-loving Jesus Christ,  these Americans are the staunchest supporters of every violent military intervention in my lifetime.  They defend the military use of torture.  They believe in criminalizing consensual sex acts. They oppose most programs to help the sick and poor, yet have no problem with the government interfering in the doctor-patient relationship to make personal healthcare decisions.  Social conservatives use the bible to support prohibition of cannabis use, ignoring science completely. Historically, this faction of Americans promoted slavery and alcohol prohibition, fought women’s suffrage, and justified Jim Crow laws.  Fail, fail, fail, and FAIL.

The Republican Party needs to publicly repudiate this uneducated and profoundly irrational segment of its population in favor of some moderation.  It is time that the GOP re-examine the tenets of its philosophy and to if nothing more, be honest about family “values”.  It is embarrassing to rational Republicans that social conservatives continue preaching less government while promoting intrusion into our bedrooms, homes and daily lives.  My Republican Party restricts government, not freedom.

Gallagher Enters Ken Miller’s Echo Chamber of Green Morons


GOP Gubernatorial candidate Ken Miller bills himself as a state’s rights advocate as he naturally mentions his role model,  much beloved Arizona Governor Jan Brewer.  Governor Brewer is perhaps best-known for her anti-immigration stance and willingness to dramatically oppose the federal government…. but only on issues that suit her.  For instance, Brewer recently launched an assault on a voter- approved medical marijuana law in her state, asking a  federal judge to strike down the law based on an arbitrary fear of federal prosecution of state workers administering the law.  Upon filing the lawsuit, she ordered the Arizona Department of Health and Human Services to reject ALL applications for dispensaries although they were allowed under the state law.  The judge has dismissed the case.

From the Missoulian:

“I look forward to the day that I can stand with Gov. Brewer on this battle with U.S. immigration and say, ‘Gov. Brewer, I’m sorry that we didn’t have a governor fighting the fight with you, but we do now.  I’m here and we’re going to stand with you’.  Then when we do that, she will be here on our issues on wolves or whatever that may be.”

One can certainly understand why Ken Miller would incessantly speak of Governor Brewer considering Montana’s current immigration problem is nothing short of a crisis.  Each day numerous, possibly even millions, of Canadians sneak across the Saskatchewan and

That's right Canadians, Ken Miller wants you to stop sneaking into Montana.

Alberta borders of Canada to give birth on Montana soil to instant American citizens. Likely, many of them are violent criminals, looking for the land of the free, the nation with the highest incarceration rate on the planet. They come in search of a better (albeit shorter) life free from the annoyances of the ever-so tricky metric system.  They take jobs from hard-working Montanans and are threatening the economic and social future of our state… right?  Does Ken Miller have any idea what the role of Governor entails?

Miller recently named Bill Gallagher as his running mate.  Gallagher is perhaps best known for being ousted as Chairman of the clown show now known as Montana’s Public Service Commission.  He is as inexperienced as Miller is ineffective.

 “It is with exceeding pride and joy that I join the Miller for Governor team. I do it because it gives the citizens, the voters, the families, and the businesses of Montana a very clear choice and an opportunity to send their message and stamp their message here in Helena and on the Executive Branch.”

These interesting announcements have come on the heels of the departure of Miller’s much-acclaimed campaign manager, William Mutch, who took an exciting post with the Colorado Springs Home Building Association amid rumors that Miller’s campaign is on its last legs.  Time will tell whether that is indeed true.  If his last quarterly filings are any indication, Miller is having fundraising troubles…. even in light of receiving the coveted James Knox endorsement.


What is higher, human body temperature or the IQ of the average Ken Miller supporter?

Adios Assmann!


Essentially citing lackluster support, tax-loving prohibitionist Senator Jeff Essmann has decided to focus on electing Republicans rather than waste his coin losing the 2012 GOP Gubernatorial primary election. While I can hardly control my excitement, I must admit that some part of me  was looking forward to obtaining the inevitable and infinite fodder for critique at the Yellowstone Young Republicans Gubernatorial Debate scheduled for February 9 in Billings.  Anyone who has witnessed Jeff Essmann partake in an original soliloquy knows exactly what I’m talking about.  Considering that the questions asked in the debate will not be shared with the candidates prior, one can only imagine the panic Essmann must have been experiencing.

Judging from the comments on the Billings Gazette article announcing Essmann dropping from the race, this decision has elated many Montanans.

 

Although Essmann didn’t endorse another candidate, he implied that he will be supporting Rick Hill. Many are speculating that Essmann was forced from the race after the Hill campaign discovered a scandal.  The Senator mentioned that he plans to return campaign donations… I urge those of you who contributed to Essmann to donate those funds to the campaign of Corey Stapleton.  I look forward to seeing you all at the GOP Gubernatorial debate in Billings February 9, hosted by the Yellowstone Young Republicans.

I’d also like to see approximately five of the current (crowded) GOP field of 8, after Essmann’s departure; drop out to provide a clear contrast among the remaining candidates. The filing fee exceeds some of the entire campaign treasuries of candidates and any who are unable to raise enough cash to pay for the filing fee are likely not the over-achiever we need in Montana’s Capitol.

Senator Jeff Essmann’s Taxing History


Jeff Essmann announced tonight that he will GASP be running for Governor of Montana.  In an uncomfortably awkward conference call- townhall meeting, Essmann prosaically  listed his accomplishments, forgetting all about the legislation that provided him essential name-recognition. His fluffer, Senator Jason Priest; assisted with creating some faux passion for the candidate who is generally regarded as the epitome of dull.  As Essmann would launch into another list of accomplishments, occasionally Senator Priest would stop him, exclaiming “I’m sorry to interrupt you, Senator Essmann, but what you just said was pretty exciting! Perhaps you’d like to share more about that with callers.” Repeated themes throughout the “event” included:  resisting the Obama agenda, standing up to federal intrusion in our state, and “Essmann with 2 Ns”.  The callers seemed to be plants- although many cannabis patients and providers on the call tried to ask questions, none of them were able.

My favorite caller was Warren, from Lolo. He is a retired, older gentleman living on a fixed income.  Although he owns his home, he suspects he will soon be forced to sell it as the property taxes are very high.  It is interesting that Warren mentions this issue, actually; he certainly was talking to the appropriate person anyway.  You see, Essmann’s legislation, a re-write of HB 658, was an attempt to mitigate the financial sting of property reappraisals.  The attempt backfired and instead of lessening the blow, Montanans were slapped with the largest property tax increases in their lifetimes… during an economic recession.

So, Warren; does that answer your question? Essmann, a self described “conservative republican” is no stranger to funding government growth with tax proceeds-in fact, he proposed adding a local sales tax as well. As the unpopular candidate struggles to stand out in a like-minded crowd his insatiable appetite for taxes will set him almost certainly set him apart from the pack.  Currently, nine GOP candidates are vying for the position of Governor, all of whom happen to be more interesting and well-liked than Senator Essmann.

Eight Isn’t Enough: The Axis of EGO Plans a “MAJOR” Announcement


Jeff Essmann plans to make a “major announcement” later today.  Perhaps he would like to apologize to the medical marijuana patients and growers for creating health-endangering legislation that makes compliance nearly impossible.  More likely, however,  Senate Majority Leader Jeff Essmann (Billings, Prohibitionist/Tax Increase Party) is going to stop with the “exploratory committee” insantity and finally announce his run for Montana’s Governor tomorrow. Senator Essmann in a shocking move (not) has hired Dustin Frost, of 47 North Communications, to manage his campaign.  Frost, a former Rehberg staffer who received massive head injuries in a Flathead boat wreck a few years back; was recently quoted in the Flathead Beacon’s article “Schweitzer’s Successor“.

State Sen. Jeff Essmann from Billings is “actively considering” a run. And, according to the AP, he is being encouraged to get in the race by GOP consultants with close ties to Montana Congressman Denny Rehberg. Dustin Frost, Rehberg’s former state director and a partner in 47 North Communications, said Essmann would be a “heavyweight” if he runs.

“He’s being encouraged……… by consultants with close ties to Rehberg”, wow…. talk about a shameless name drop.  It sounds like Mr Frost was in reality only promoting his employer.  Should Montanans be influenced by the endorsement of a candidate’s employee- a paid campaign consultant? Not this Montanan.

The GOP ticket was already uncomfortably crowded, with already ample representation from Yellowstone County- Former State Senate Minority Leader Corey Stapleton, Former State Senator and previously unsuccessful Gubernatorial candidate Ken Miller, and rising political star Keith Winkler…. perhaps that was a bit of an exaggeration.  Other Republicans running include former US Congressman Rick Hill from Helena, Neil Livingstone, a terrorism expert based in DC (although his home is in Helena) and James O’Hara, a Chouteau County  Commissioner. Earlier today, Drew Turiano of Helena filed for the race as did Robert Fanning, a retired CEO now living in Pray.  Current AG Steve Bullock is expected to be the Democrat Party nominee, but is planning a contested primary with Larry Jent.  Ron Vandevender is running as a libertarian.

Thanks to Montana’s disenfranchised medical marijuana patients, Essmann attained the level of name recognition necessary to run for a statewide office when he authored SB423, to repeal Montana’s medical marijuana law.  In a field chock-full of conservatives, let’s differentiate Essmann from his peers.

  1. Taxes.  Essmann’s legislation provided many Montanans the sharpest tax increase in their lifetimes.  It was unexpected and during a recession.
  2. Personal Responsibility. When Essmann approached Governor Schweitzer to complain about the implications of the above legislation, the Governor said “Essmann complaining about his bill is like the architect that was warned by the engineer over and over again if you build it that way, it will fall down.”
  3. Family Values. With a penchant for liberal ladies (his wives are all lefties) Senator Essmann is childless.  Perhaps he has a puppy or something instead.
  4. Smaller Government. Essmann isn’t one to challenge the federal government. If the feds consider it illegal, he certainly won’t defend your right to use it.  Oh yeah, unless we are talking about guns, wolves, or Obamacare.   He forced massive taxes on property owners and rescinded the rights of tens of thousands of medical marijuana patients to access their medicine safely. I guess his ideology borders on hypocrisy.
  5. Liberty.  Essmann’s baby, SB 423 is a clunky, oppressive prohibition bill.  It overturns a very popular citizens initiative and essentially sends the sickest people in our state to the dark alleys to obtain necessary medicine. Several primary components have already been ruled unconstitutional. An initiative by Patients for Reform, Not Repeal has officially qualified the law for the 2012 ballot to enable voters to decide its verdict, with a particularly incredible showing in Yellowstone County, even in Essmann’s own district.  Note:  Essmann refused to sign the petition.
  6. Support.  Although the rumor is “Essmann already has more money than the other candidates combined”, we know if that is the case, it is his own.  Montana’s campaign laws prevent candidates from raising money until officially filing candidacy with the state so the money, if there is any; is likely his own cash.  The lovely ladies from Safe Community, Safe Kids are no doubt on board and his biggest fan is rumored to be Tom Hauptman, an oil player who has contributed to Rick Hill in the past.

Being Governor has reportedly been Essmann’s lifelong dream but  Essmann as governor would be Montana’s nightmare. Good luck to Frost.  Creating excitement in a campaign is difficult with such a dull candidate (thus, this “major announcement”). Last session, thankfully Essmann provided us with plenty of campaign material.  Regardless of his wealth, I don’t think Essmann has any chance in this race.

Hypocrite, Meet Karma: Another Righteous Right-Winger Down


Arrest warrants for one of montanafesto’s favorite prohibitionists were issued today. Oh no, don’t worry; he wasn’t arrested for possessing the dangerous and violence- inducing marijuana,rest assured it was nothing like that.  Reverend Harris Himes and James “Jeb” Bryant stand accused of six felony charges, including theft, fraudulent practices and conspiracy to commit the same for their role in allegedly committing the pious act of bilking an investor out of his entire $150,000 inheritance. It gets worse though.  When things weren’t adding up, Himes abandoned the investor in Mexico, leaving him at property that wasn’t owned by either of the men.  Himes and his partner in crime stopped returning the victim’s calls a year ago, prompting a year long investigation which concluded that neither man are licensed to sell securities in Montana nor was their company registered as an investment property with the CSI.

Reverend Harris Himes, who believes that gay people should be put to death and that medical use of the marijuana plant is a sin against God, who ironically is often credited as the creator of said plant as well as of the Reverend Himes.  The pastor of the Big Sky Christian Center in Hamilton is often featured on Andrew Breitbart’s Big Government website and received quite a lot of attention when he witnessed SEIU thugs beating Kenneth Gladney a couple of years ago. The dramatic accounts of the beating were highly inconsistent and upon questioning, Himes changed several components of the tall tale, eventually admitting that he actually didn’t even see the “attack” begin.  Himes was a the GOP’s moral fixture during Montana’s 62nd legislative session, providing a special brand of moral authority, spiritual testimony and guidance in opposition of all proposed marijuana legislation, with the exception of the full repeal which God was hoping would become law.  He was also the GOP God Squad’s go- to guy when testimony containing moral judgments of homosexuality were required.  Himes, a brilliant biblical scholar; eagerly offered scripture supportive of the murder of our gay brothers and sisters sprinkled with the occasional opinion of God.  Himes was also rather concerned about the increasing number of attractive women who were suddenly interested in horticulture, which he naturally blamed on the demonic allure of the evil drug, marijuana.

The highly respected religious figure Reverend Himes also serves as the the state leader  of Montana Eagle forum….

“Montana Eagle Forum has members in all corners of the state of Montana. We are a conservative pro-family organization working in our communities and state to influence public policy on issues that affect our traditional family values, our freedoms as outlined by the U.S. Consititution and place the highest reguard (sic) for God. We accomplish this by informing and equipping citizens to take action.”

I wonder how God feels about someone who claims to act on His behalf, deceiving an innocent victim who was seeking a safe investment for his sizable inheritance.  I wonder how he feels about this man of God accompanying his investor to their non-existent property, which according to Himes was the site of their future factory.  The land, in reality; was an empty lot owned by neither of the men.  The state’s investigation concluded that the funds were indeed wired to Himes and bank records indicate the money ($150,000) was used to pay the balance of one of the frugal pastor’s credit cards.  The victim has not to this date received even one penny return on his investment in the non-existent corporation invented by the humble man of the cloth.

Although this was apparently a state investigation, I will borrow a quote from another one of montanafesto’s favorite prohibitionists, Rep James Knox:  “Praise the Lord and Praise the Feds!”  Personally, I feel far safer knowing a persuasive and sleazy preacher, quick to not only condemn the lifestyle of gay couples, but to actually PUBLICLY call for their death as an appropriate punishment, has been arrested for such serious crimes.   I support the arrest of false prophets who prey on the trust of their parishioners.  Reverend Himes, is of course innocent until proven guilty. Perhaps Montana’s cannabis patients who are now unable to find safe access to medicine will send Himes some friendly correspondence in the big house. Himes was used so often in testimony the during the last session that it is obvious he is a close friend of Montana’s GOP God Squad.  A suitable replacement should be located quickly, perhaps Nathaniel bar Jonah could provide moral guidance to the legislators instead.  Oh my, scratch that, he’s apparently passed on.

“Running on Empty” Speaker Jeff Essmann Runs From Constituents


Earlier this week, I received several invitations to the Billings stop of the “Running on Empty” bus tour by Americans for Prosperity.  Slated to speak at the event were Sen. Jeff Essmann (author of the infamous “black market” marijuana bill, SB423), Rep. Tom McGillvray (who at at an RLCC fundraiser stated that Montana was wasting its money on meth prevention as our real problem in Montana is medical marijuana) and Rep. Krayton Kerns, who pretends to be more constitutional and liberty-minded than he is in reality. The guest speakers were greeted by far more protesters than conservative supporters. Someone in the crowd called McGillvray a “commie”, Kerns was asked if he’d returned his federal farm subsidy welfare check and the cowardly star speaker, Jeff Essmann, couldn’t be bothered to attend. Prior to the event, representatives from the Ken Miller for Governor campaign were overheard calling to warn others of the opposition. Why are so many candidates for governor afraid of their constituents?  Opponents of McGillvray and Kerns outnumbered supporters at least 3 to 1 although some reports indicated that over 100 protesters attended while 20 or so were friendly.

Where’s Essmann?

Essmann may have been home analyzing the results of the recent solicitiation letters he sent to constituents as he explores a potential Gubernatorial bid.  Oddly enough, he omitted authoring SB423 in the lengthy resume’ he included in the letters.  He has repeatedly claimed that droves of his constituents begged and pleaded for a repeal of Montana’s medical marijuana law, so it does seem strange that he didn’t mention let alone herald that particular accomplishment. Perhaps he was using medical marijuana. Oh yes, that’s right, he has never done such a thing…. or has he?    Perhaps Essmann was home proposing legislation for the biggest tax increases in Montanans’ lifetimes.  Oh, never mind.  He already did that! Maybe he was providing statements to police, hoping to ensure a newly unemployed cannabis caregiver would be charged with a violation of the dreaded “privacy in communications act”.  Yeah, he already did that too.  Perhaps Essmann was out looking for Rep. James Knox, word on the street is that he’d like him to be his lieutenant governor.  Unfortunately for Essmann, Knox is apparently planning to leave the state, presumably taking his $733/mo in health benefits, compliments of Montana taxpayers, with him.

Anyway, back to the Americans for Prosperity event.  I wasn’t in attendance, but reports of McGillvray and Kerns being loudly booed were consistent.  One Republican politician- who actually lobbied Essmann and company to abandon plans for repeal in favor of thoughtful legislation during the session- left early because he was uncomfortable with the number of union thugs shouting down the speakers.  He said that he was not there to support the speakers but to support the local effort to elect new leaders who understand the need to live within our means and recognize that over-regulating is not the conservative way. Josh Daniels, an outspoken advocate for patients’ rights as well as a member of Patients for Reform, Not Repeal , said  “Overall it was a sad showing for them.  As a libertarian I do agree with the general concept, but the MT Tea Party is working for a nanny state with the LDS church on cannabis regulation.”  Mr. Daniels held a sign that read “SB423, Welcome Back Blackmarket”.

The Bozeman and Helena stops on the bus tour Thursday afternoon were also attended by a sizable group of protesters.  Friday’s stops include Kalispell, as well as the liberal university city of Missoula.  Similar events in Florida last week drew smaller than expected crowds. Perhaps Americans for Prosperity, a conservative group funded by the libertarian Koch brothers, should do a little research on their prospective speakers. I’m pretty sure that a speech by Republican Representative Mike Miller wouldn’t have drawn such opposition.

Most of those in attendance cited the need for jobs in Montana.  Note:  McGillvray, Kerns and Essmann all voted to eliminate the thousands of jobs in Montana’s medical cannabis industry.  Times certainly have changed since the last conservative bus tour stop in Billings. When then-GOP chairman Michael Steele brought the “Fire Pelosi” bus tour to Billings prior to the 2010 elections, hundreds of smiling and cheering supporters attended the event and I don’t recall seeing even one protester.  If only we had known then what sort of fools we were electing to represent us.

Thwarting the Tyrannical Minority: IR-124


During Montana’s 2011 legislative session, 113 of our elected representatives, in direct contradiction of the expressed will of the people, imposed their self-righteous puritanical views on the rest of us by approving SB 423. The lawmakers, after refusing to draft thoughtful legislation,approved Sen Jeff Essmann’s 33 page medical marijuana repeal bill and proudly announced to the  276,042 Montana voters who approved the state’s original law (I-148) that they were fulfilling voter intent.  Voters, patients and growers, however; were not convinced and have launched an initiative referendum campaign to refer SB 423 to Montana voters for rejection or approval.  IR-124, depending on the number of signatures obtained; has the potential to suspend SB 423 until November of 2012.

GET INVOLVED! This is an opportunity to assert your rights as a Montana citizen.  Legislators need to be reminded that they work for us and that we the people decide their political futures.  Repealing a citizens initiative sets a dangerous precedent and regardless of how Montanans actually feel about medical marijuana, it is difficult to understand how ANY could argue against empowering voters by allowing them to choose.  If we had trusted the legislature to act on our wishes, we would have never had a medical marijuana program in Montana yet a resounding 62% voted to approve it.  Time will tell whether this was or wasn’t what Montanans voted for.

If you are interested in helping with the effort to place IR-124 on the ballot, we’d love to hear from you. Visit our website, Patients for Reform, Not Repeal.  Training is required prior to gathering signatures so contact a zone coordinator or trainer and we will reserve a spot for you in one of our training sessions.

CONTACT INFO FOR PETITION TRAINERS:

SW Zone, Missoula/BRoot: Gabe McMurray at Sweetwater Caregivers at gabertoothtiger@gmail.com , phone number: 541-0420, Sweetwater also on Facebook

 NW Zone, Flathead area: James Blair, at jimmy1@neverhaulwateragain.com​ , also on Facebook as Jimmy   NC Zone, Great Falls area: Jessica Johnson mylittlebuggaboo@hotmail.com , 564-2667, and Grant Grenfell, here2headbang69@hotmail.com

SE Zone, Billings area: Elizabeth Springman at Elizabeth_Springman@yahoo.com 697-1810, and James Haneyheavenscentcannabis@gmail.com 670-0143

SCentral, Livingston, Big Sky, or Bozeman: Monica Blanchard in Livingston at ccofmt@gmail.com, 333-2622, or Charles Gaillard in Big Sky atjoinergroup@aol.com386-931-9334 ,and Dante Bonanin in Bozeman at bonusattheboz@hotmail.com

Central, Helena/Butte: Barb Trego at BarbsGoats@aol.com, 459-6247, and in Butte: Tawnya LaFond at TKiliayaRose1@aol.com 490-4273

Eastern Zone, Havre, Plentywood, Miles City, Glendive, Terry, Jordan, Circle, Glasgow, Wolf Point, Sidney, Broadus: Nicole French at NicoleFrench88@gmail.com 208-0204 and on Facebook.

Please consider making a financial contribution or give us a few hours of your time….the September 30 deadline for obtaining the necessary signatures is looming.

Montana Governor 2012: Social Media Contrasts


4&20 blackbirds  recently posted “Social Media and Montana’s Road to 2012…. or Your (sic) Doing it Wrong”. Although I disagreed with a few of the blogger’s liberal-leaning critiques, the bulk of the post was funny because it was so true.  The post suggests that successful use of social media includes the following:  engaging friends, eliminating staff posting (create your own posts), making posts personal yet using a filter(ask Weiner about this), utilizing creativity and wit (if available), and researching Montana’s candidates who have been successful in promoting themselves in today’s technological age (like Mike Miller and Ellie Hill) The blogger also discouraged candidates from following too many people and posting anything resembling something from the Facebook wall of James Knox.

Recent research has suggested that in predicting elections, social media presence is at least as important if not more than the amount of money raised by candidates. Now that the governor’s race in Montana has been elevated to Politico’s most competitive in the nation,  I decided to examine the use of social media by a few of the GOP’s Gubernatorial candidates. I’ve included promotional videos for each candidate, links to their social media accounts as well as an opinionated unbiased assessment of overall performance.

Rick Hill 

Viral ads: Hill’s campaign has been fraught with controversy thanks to a scandalous past brought to light by a concerned conservative friend of Ken Miller, prompting Mermaid-gate and our third most-viewed post of all time.   Hill’s Mr Rogers-esque promotional video betrays no signs of his wild side, so thank you to whoever was responsible for compiling the sleaze (yes, Nancy Davis, I’m talking to you), effectively making Mr UN seem just a little more electable/desirable than he likely is in reality.  I will leave the family values comments to the Miller camp.   Twitter: Hill has yet to master the art of the tweet and tends to primarily post links to his own campaign’s promotional posts, which is not a recommended course of action, especially because his promotional material is so uninteresting.  Facebook: Hill is off to a slow start, although this is his…. third start? His former Facebook group “A Lot of Folks for Rick Hill” peaked at well under a hundred folks and his handlers changed course a couple of times as a result.  Long-time lobbyist Hill earns an easy grade of Fail for his inability or unwillingness to engage his followers.  His posts are boring and receive very few, if any comments.  I can’t determine whether his posts are his own or from his staff, but let’s just hope they were written by staffers.  There would then be room for improvement.  Overall: Hill’s filter, if applicable; is far too fine to allow any effective engagement let alone posts that demonstrate any level of creativity or wit.  This campaign- even with the added excitement of the mermaid- is utterly soul-less. Verdict: Over the Hill.

Neil Livingstone:

I perused Livingstone’s website and was only able to find a number of national news interviews about terrorism and a dreadfully boring interview by Montana Shrugged so I decided it was in Mr Livingstone’s best interest that I not post a video at this time.  Should his campaign provide us with a promotional video, we’d be happy to post and assess it however. Twitter:  Neil’s tweets comprise an interesting combination of terrorism discussion, cooking/recipes, and political commentary- some of which even is relevant to Montana.  His filter appears to be working properly and his tweets are somewhat frequent.  His recipes offer a glimpse into his personal non-national-terrorism-expert life although many Montanans still may be unable to relate- Morel popcorn, anyone?  Facebook:  This account could use some work.  Livingstone should probably link his Facebook to his Twitter and blog to streamline posts among the outlets-  otherwise it appears that his Facebook account is more of a recipe repository than a Gubernatorial campaign page. I’d also suggest posting more links and statuses that relate specifically to our state. Livingstone’s personal wealth alone makes him a contender but he faces many obstacles in gaining name recognition beyond political junkies and terrorism buffs- if terrorism buffs actually exist, that is.  Nearly a year remains before primary elections in Montana.

Ken Miller:

Viral AdsThe only shocking- or even remotely energizing- component of Miller’s video is found within the youtube view counter-  there have been 1,217 views of this gouge-your-eyes-out-boring piece.  Miller’s overall presentation is dull as is the content.   Twitter: If the Miller campaign has a Twitter account, I’m not aware of it.  This is probably for the best as successful tweets require a level of spontaneity and authenticity that would be difficult for a fledgling Tweeter like Miller to pull off. Facebook: Staff/TEA people regularly post as Miller on his campaign site, as evidenced here.  He engages followers minimally and generally refers those who have questions or comments to his cell phone.  He seems to be doing a good job at physically traveling around Montana as evidenced by the plethora of photos posted from each location on the campaign trail but to me he seems a bit reluctant.  Miller’s supporters compensate for his lack of energy, however.  In fact, one of them sent out this ambitious campaign donation solicitation, complete with a conspiracy theory theme.  Overall: Before utilizing the above-mentioned filter, his campaign should instead employ the use of spell-check.  Considering his lengthy political history, I’m rather surprised by his selection of a rabid tea person as a campaign site administrator.  Engagement with voters is important, even when the issue at hand isn’t one Governor Jan Brewer supports- Miller failed to effectively respond to medical cannabis patients’ questions at a recent event at a gun shooting facility- his wife Peggy instead forcibly interfered with the video recording of his responses.  Miller has much to learn in the world of social media, but with God on his side, he should have no problems.

Corey Stapleton

Viral Ads: Stapleton’s piece is by far the best and I love that it isn’t bloated or ego-driven. This edgy promotional material is consistent with earlier photos released by his camp and it is apparent that he has employed a team of talented individuals to head up his marketing. This video was released last night, but already has over 100 views on youtube and more on Facebook. Twitter: Although Stapleton’s tweets are interesting-  like this one: “Gov Schweitzer wants to sell MT’s coal to China and solve their energy shortages. I want to sell MT’s coal to America, and solve our own.”, they are infrequent.  There is room for improvement here- more in numbers than content.  Facebook: Over 4000 people “like” his page compared to Hill’s paltry 345 and Miller’s 1017.  Little investigation is required to determine why he has 4 times the number of Facebook fans either-  his wall is a pleasant mix of thought-provoking questions and statements with a few personal touches here and there. Stapleton seems accessible and his friends appear engaged.  Stapleton isn’t afraid to make controversial statements and the ensuing debates with his friends are polite and rational.   Overall: Stapleton wins. He appears to handle his own social media (or he’d likely have far more tweets under his belt) and I thankfully wasn’t able to locate any post likely to be written by James Knox.  Friends are engaged, posts are witty, creative and a bit dangerous.

America’s Enemy Protectors


Whenever I think that America is by and large too intelligent to accept our federal government’s propaganda, another Facebook friend will remind me that I’m mistaken.  Last week, Ron Paul and Barney Frank introduced HR 2306, legislation to remove marijuana from federal regulation,  allowing individual states to create their own laws governing the plant’s use, cultivation, and sale.  The bill is obviously rather controversial and my Facebook news feed indicated that I had plenty of close-minded pals who were content to accept what ever current truth the government was peddling.

It’s illegal! It is a schedule I substance! It is a gateway drug! It is dangerous and addictive! It is immoral! I find it absolutely abhorrent that anyone places their trust in government.  Are you aware…..

Your government lies to you.  Period.  Regardless of political affiliation, our government serves to feed itself, certainly not to protect us.  We need to stop the partisan bickering and realize that our own government is the enemy.  We are overcriminalizing to justify expansion of law enforcement and tax increases while losing the fundamental liberties our nation was founded upon…. and yet Americans accept it.  Where is the public outcry?

Every 30 seconds another American is incarcerated for a cannabis “crime”.  Yet, in legislative hearings and court proceedings, so many of us blindly accept the words of narcotics officers as truthful.  Mark Long, for instance; is Montana’s Narcotics Bureau Chief.  Although that is his official fancy title, he often testifies on behalf of the Montana Narcotics Officers Association, a non-profit organization of law enforcement officers who aren’t even required to reside in Montana whose mission includes the statement “It is imperative that we, as law enforcement officers, have a better communication network than that of the people we deal with.” I suppose that is referring to criminals? Can we really trust that Mark Long would be honest? Especially considering the likelihood that a large portion of his friends, members of the association he represents would be unemployed as a result of rescheduling or decriminalizing cannabis?  If cannabis providers aren’t seen as credible witnesses because of their “profit-driven industry”, why are officers like Mark Long? Don’t we all protect our own interests?  Doing so, however; under the guise of public safety is inherently wrong and shouldn’t necessarily provide any appearance of truth in a courtroom- or anywhere for that matter.  Working for the government should not make anyone a more credible witness.

Mark Long recently spoke to the Gallatin County Republican Women about the rise in crime rates since Montanans approved the use of medical marijuana in the state in 2004.  A short time later, a preliminary injunction hearing was held on Montana’s new medical marijuana law, SB 423.  In testimony,Long clarified the statements he’d made to the Republican women, which were blatantly false.  He claimed that he was only referring to the increase in medical marijuana crimes in Montana since 2004.  Considering medical marijuana didn’t exist prior to that time in Montana….. hmm. OK.  Mark Long’s postition provides him immediate credibility with a bulk of Montana’s voters, but why is that?

Stockholm Syndrome. The abusive are masterful. They are doing this for our own good, who knows better than the almighty federal government?  The government is addicted to its own bloated budgets.  The self-righteous hypocrites trample the US Constitution while shouting that they are upholding it. In a world where alcoholics and pill addicts thrive, cannabis users are criminals.  The people least able to defend themselves, the ill; are forced to live in fear of their own protectors. The government propaganda machine is so refined that even highly intelligent individuals are lulled into surrendering their rights. Question authority.  It isn’t unpatriotic, it is American.  When we accept  what “authority” claims to be true without demanding proof, we betray not only ourselves, but all of mankind.


Overcriminalization and Montana: Marijuana Mecca?


A couple of weeks ago, I accompanied a friend to a local trial.  She’d been charged with a violation of Montana’s Privacy in Communications statute.  Never heard of it?  Join the club.  Here is an overview of my friend’s “crime”:  Late last year, “Jane” was enduring a difficult pregnancy and was on physician-ordered bed rest when she received paperwork detailing her 8 year old son’s father’s intent to sue her for full custody.  Considering the case was filed out-of-state and the father had not once seen his son since his birth, she was understandably upset.  After leaving messages with several attorneys, she decided to call the local courthouse to ask about the legal procedures involved with such a case.  The clerk of court told Jane that she was unable to provide legal advice, but Jane assured her she wasn’t looking for any- she simply wanted to understand the process.  The clerk told her in no uncertain terms- at least four times- that she COULD NOT PROVIDE LEGAL ADVICE.  Jane, sensing a communications disconnect, asked to speak with anyone else in the office.  The clerk asked if she was referring to her “boss”, to which Jane replied “well, sure… I suppose.  I’d just like to speak with someone else”.  The clerk proceeded to inform Jane that she had no boss because she was an elected official.  Considering the circumstances leading to this conversation, Jane was already rather upset and the clerk’s bully-like behavior sent her over the edge.  She asked “Am I supposed to kiss your ass because you are an elected official?”  The conversation ended soon after and Jane received a call later that day that the police would like her to drive into town to collect her citation for violation of the privacy in communications statute.  She retained an attorney and was confident the charge would disappear.  It didn’t.  After an afternoon at the courthouse, she was convicted of the charge.  She was fined $600, given ten days in jail (although suspended) and ordered to anger management classes at her own expense.  She had no criminal record whatsoever.  Although I have no idea what these officials are paid for their work, I silently began estimating the cost to taxpayers.  The judge, city attorney, clerk of court, two deputy clerks of court, and a police officer were all present for the entire trial- which lasted nearly four hours…. all to prosecute my friend.  It occurred to me that the local government was exploiting justice to justify their employment and fund the bureaucracy.

Some states, like California; are making laws to avoid jail for non-violent offenders but in Montana, selling marijuana can get you a life sentence.  Homosexuals who recruit others to become homosexuals can spend 10 years in prison for that offense.  In 1970, there were fewer than 200,000 people in jail or prison in the United States.  Currently, there are between two and three million and our incarceration rate- nearly 800/100,000 is the highest documented rate in the world.  The size and scope of criminal law- on all levels- has exploded yet the quality of the law has deteriorated.  While traditional law focused on inherently wrong behavior, today we see countless examples of economically or socially beneficial laws under the guise of “justice”.

While my friend’s behavior was not respectful of the clerk of court’s position, was it really a CRIME?  Should we feel safer knowing that Jane, instead of investing in her new business or paying off medical bills after a difficult pregnancy is paying the city court because she said the word “ass” on the phone?

An elderly orchid gardener was raided by a SWAT team after failing to obtain the proper forms and documents necessary when importing orchids.  Although the orchids were legal, he is now a federal criminal.  The United States imprisoned an elderly diabetic for two years because of paperwork inadequacies.

In another case, an elderly grandmother faced a high-profile court battle after being cited because two bushes in her yard were over two feet tall. In addition to a fine, she faced significant jail time after her bushes had grown beyond acceptable height while she battled cancer.

98% of all statistics are made up.  ~Author Unknown

In today’s Bozeman Daily Chronicle, Mark Long, head of the state’s US Justice Department Narcotics Bureau, makes the assertion that crime in Montana is up because of medical marijuana although statistics in every other publication claims that crime rates are down.

“All marijuana used to come from Mexico and Canada,” he said. “Now it’s Montana, Mexico and Canada.”….. Mark Long

Newsflash!! California, Montana has surpassed you in quantity and quality.  It is obviously a well-kept secret considering BC, Humboldt, and other areas famous for growing cannabis have faced little challenge, from Montana the Marijuana Mecca.  It seems that Mr Long is more upset that he isn’t able to prosecute medical marijuana crimes anymore…. because they are no longer crimes.  These abuses of power are all connected. Create more laws, create more criminals.  That equals job security for Mark and his law enforcement friends.

Repealing the “Black Market” Bill: A Preliminary Guide to Process and Procedure


Confused about the status of SB 423, Senator Jeff Essmann’s bill to eliminate safe access to medical cannabis in Montana? The following provides background into Montana’s initiative, referendum, and repeal process.

SB 423 Monitoring: Montana Marijuana Act Initiative Referendum to Overturn Law Prepared for the Children, Families, Health, and Human Services Interim Committee

Background

Within days after the 2011 legislative session ended, opponents of a bill that repeals Montana’s Medical Marijuana Act and replaces it with new provisions announced that they would try to place the new law before the voters in November 2012. The effort centers on a little-used practice in which Montanans may try to gather enough signatures from registered voters to place a law enacted by the Legislature on the ballot. If they succeed, voters then decide whether to retain or reject the law. At issue in this case is Senate Bill 423, which replaces the existing Medical Marijuana Act with more stringent provisions for individuals who use marijuana for debilitating medical conditions, the physicians who provide written certifications involving such use, and the individuals who grow or manufacture marijuana and related products. The Montana Cannabis Industry Association (Association) is sponsoring the proposal. The group hopes to gather enough signatures to not only place the law on the ballot, but also to suspend its implementation until the November 2012 election. How the Process Works The Montana Constitution allows for both an initiative process and a referendum process. Most voters tend to think of an initiative as an idea generated by a private group, which then gathers signatures to place the proposed law on the ballot. For example, three initiatives qualified for the November 2010 ballot — one to reduce interest rates charged by so-called “pay-day lenders”, another to prevent the imposition of a real estate transfer tax, and a third to change how some hunting licenses are granted. On the other hand, voters tend to think of referendums as a law that the Legislature passes but puts before the voters before it goes into effect, to make sure voters agree with the law. But the Montana Constitution also allows for a process in which voters may place an act of the Legislature on the ballot as a referendum if interested parties submit a petition that is signed by at least 5% of the registered voters in at least 34 House districts and by 5% of the voters statewide. The total number required is based on the number of votes cast for governor statewide and by House district in 2008. The proposal must go through the review process required for all ballot measures, including:                                                                                                                                   • submission of the proposed ballot statements and text to the Secretary of State;                • review of the ballot statements and text by the Legislative Services Division;                      • rejection, acceptance, or modification of the Legislative Services Division recommendations by the sponsor;                                                                                          • the sponsor’s submission the final ballot statements and text to the Secretary of State;    • review of the proposed ballot language by the Attorney General’s Office, including an opportunity for public comment; and                                                                                       • final issuance of the petition by the Secretary of State after the Attorney General’s Office has completed its review and found that the petition is “legally sufficient”. After those steps are completed, the sponsor may begin collecting signatures. An act referred to the ballot through the initiative process remains in effect until the election is held unless enough signatures are obtained to suspend it. That would occur if the Secretary of State certifies that at least 15% of the registered voters in each of at least 51 House districts signed the petition.

Timeline for the SB 423 Petition

The Secretary of State accepted the petition from the Association on May 12, starting the clock ticking on the various timelines for review.

. To date, the following events have occurred:

• May 26: The Legislative Services Division completed its review of the ballot statements and text and provided the sponsor with suggested changes.                                                 • May 31: The sponsor responded to the Legislative Services Division comments.               • June 1: The sponsor submitted the revised ballot statements and text to the Secretary of State.                                                                                                                                        • June 2: The Attorney General’s Office received the ballot language and text for review.    • June 6: The Attorney General’s Office asked the Governor’s Office of Budget and Program Planning to estimate the fiscal impact of SB 423. The Budget Office has 10 days to prepare a fiscal note. The Attorney General’s Office must complete its review by July 5. If it approves the proposal, the proposed ballot issue will be returned to the Secretary of State. That office will then provide the approved petition to the sponsor, who may begin gathering signatures at that time. Signed petitions may be submitted to county election officials until September 30. The county officials must certify the signatures and file the signed petitions and certified totals with the Secretary of State no later than October 28. If enough verified signatures have been gathered, the Secretary of State will certify to the Governor that the initiative referendum will appear on the November 2012 ballot and/or has been suspended. Petition sponsors must gather and submit 24,337 verified signatures, including signatures representing 5% of the registered voters in each of at least 34 House districts, to place the measure on the ballot. If they meet that threshold, they may then attempt to gather additional signatures to suspend the law until the November 2012 vote. Anywhere from 31,238 to 43,247 signatures are needed to suspend the law, depending on the House districts in which the signatures are gathered. If sponsors meet the requirements for either step sooner than Sept. 30 and enough verified signatures are on file with the Secretary of State’s Office before October 28, the measure could be certified for the ballot or be suspended before those deadlines occur.

To read legal filings thus far, click here.

To donate to this endeavor, visit the MTCIA‘s website.  Funding is critical as our legal dream team isn’t cheap.

Become the change you want to see: Sign up to help here.  Whether you are interested in being a county or house district captain, a signature gatherer, a notary, even if you simply would like to sign the petition, we would appreciate your help.  Our board, zone coordinators and committees are donating their already scarce  time and could use assistance.

I’m coordinating the Eastern Zone and personally need some help in the following countes:  Valley, Carter, Powder River, Prairie, Dawson, Garfield, McCone, Petroleum, Phillips, Fallon and Carbon.  Also in House Districts: 30,32,35,38,39, and 41. Please contact me ASAP if you can assist.  

Senator Essmann’s Insatiable Appetite for Taxes


“Now, more than ever, Montana needs leaders who understand that more government doesn’t mean more prosperity,” said Sen. Jeff Essmann, R-Billings. “Montana needs leaders who know that higher taxes don’t lead to more jobs … and who understand that environmental obstructionism doesn’t put food on the table for struggling families. …

In 2009, Montana’s economy was struggling.  Unemployment had nearly doubled while the quality of jobs had declined.  Nationally, the mortgage crisis, bank bailouts and healthcare reform all contributed to the erosion of opportunity in the Treasure State.

While Republicans typically oppose tax increases and reject virtually all new taxes, Jeff Essmann regularly defies party principles in attempts to boost the tax burden to fund government growth. Although such legislation is typically carried by Democrats, during the 2009 legislative session Essmann proposed implementing a local option sales tax. Regarding this additional tax, the senator said “Everybody talks about property tax relief, no one does anything about it – this is my attempt to do so.”  Opponents criticized the legislation as increasing taxes on not only tourists, but potentially all Montanans and the bill eventually died.

Maybe Essmann was only trying to prepare Montanans for the impending fiscal shock of their lifetimes. The senator rewrote HB 658, to mitigate the impact of Montana’s property tax reappraisals which are mandated every six years. The previously revenue neutral legislation was sponsored by Rep. Mike Jopek (D) who actually voted against the bill after Essmann and his committee dramatically modified the piece.  The unpopular legislation passed on the  last day of the session, eliminating the possibility of an amendatory veto and it became law without the signature of Governor Schweitzer.  As a result of the bill, property taxes for many Montanans skyrocketed during this difficult financial time and Essmann conveniently placed responsibility for his own legislation on Governor Schweitzer and Revenue Director Dan Bucks. Essmann compassionately suggested that Montanans utilize reverse mortgages to cope financially, effectively placing the burden on their heirs.

Now it appears Essmann, the owner of a water vending business,  is poised to announce his run at the 2012 GOP Gubernatorial nomination. Montanans- especially Republicans- need to seriously consider whether they are comfortable with the possibility, albeit a remote one; of a tax-lover like Essmann governing the state.  The campaign cycle will no doubt be brutal as the race is already very crowded, already featuring a number of other declared candidates – three more from Yellowstone County alone and rumors of others soon to join.

 And just when I thought I’d recovered from enduring hours of Essmann the Senator’s pompous,dry, slow speech patterns….  I cannot imagine the level of arrogance he’ll display in his attempts to convince Montanans to hire him as the state’s CEO.

 Although a formidable opponent in the bragging department, Rick Hill’s campaign has been plagued by sleazy revelations about his personal life that gained national exposure.  Hill’s “Mermaid-Gate” was responsible in part for Politico raising the rating of the 2012 MT Governor’s race, which is now considered the most competitive in the nation.

Corey Stapleton, a former naval officer who served as Montana’s Senate Minority Leader was recently called the “future of the Republican party” by former US Congressman Ron Marlenee.  Perhaps best known for sponsoring Otter Creek coal development legislation and saving taxpayers millions by replacing the Montana Department of Revenue’s failed POINTS computer system, Stapleton has thus far managed to avoid most criticism.

Ken Miller, who ran unsuccessfully for governor in 2004 (who came in third in a four-way primary, ironically placing only ahead of a democrat), believes we should “reject federalism when harmful to state’s rights” and that “we should stand with AZ Governor Jan Brewer”. The TEA party favorite, Miller lacks the support of mainstream Montana Republicans.

Neil Livingstone has the most interesting resume, but is largely unknown to Montanans.  Rumors have circulated that he is only using this race to increase name recognition for a 2014 run, but sources in his camp deny this. Jim O’Hara, a Chouteau County Commissioner, is an advocate of wind farms and other renewable sources of energy. He is passionate about world hunger and resource management and also lacks statewide name recognition. Keith Winkler, another Yellowstone County Republican, is largely unknown even in Billings, where he resides.