GOP’s Fork in the Road (updated with statement from Corey Stapleton)


Today our following post appears on Montana Cowgirl as a guest analysis. Update:  Includes statement from Corey Stapleton following post.

GOP Gubernatorial hopeful Corey Stapleton’s latest ad, by highlighting elderly opponent Rick Hill’s various policy failures, accuses him of having “too much baggage” to effectively govern Montana.  The direct “baggage” in question includes supporting a state sales tax, chairing a board that supports Obamacare, and receiving “sweetheart real estate deals”. Among the indirect baggage (displayed in the ad on various pieces of luggage) is Jack Abramoff (Hill received substantial campaign donations from Abramoff, a lobbyist convicted of bilking tens of millions of dollars from Native American tribes), Ponzi Scheme (Hill fell victim to a Ponzi scheme and lost millions), Vietnam (Hill is allegedly a draft dodger) and Worker’s Comp (the program Hill claims to have reformed boasts the highest rates in the nation).   Not only has Rick Hill failed to deny any of these allegations, the Democrats conducted a fact check of the points made in Stapleton’s ad and determined it was factual.  Hill has consistently been absent from primary season’s conservative debates… perhaps to avoid answering tough questions.

What does Stapleton have to lose by “going negative” in this ad?  Unfortunately for Hill, sometimes the truth is negative and when one files to run for political office, ALL past actions are fair fodder. Stapleton was smart to focus on Hill’s various political inadequacies.  If he had instead created an ad to hit Hill personally by further exposing his extramarital affair with a Sip N’ Dip cocktail waitress, or Hill’s ex-wife publicly stating that Hill had abused her emotionally and had criticized her appearance and lack of education,  perhaps such a piece would qualify as an attack ad, and one taken right from Hill’s own playbook.

From High Country News:

“Rick Hill was so far behind in the polls last winter that his two Republican primary opponents said Hill wasn’t even a contender for Montana’s one seat in the House of Representatives. So Hill tried something. He went negative.  He attacked his Republican opponents, who both complained he was being nasty and unfair when he called them tax-and-spend liberals in bad disguises. But the strategy worked. Hill rallied in the final weeks of the campaign and won the primary with 44 percent of the vote, eight points more than his closest opponent.”

Hill’s record is chock-full of relevant accomplishments, there is no need to attack him personally.   For instance,

  • Hill edged out 433 other competitors to win the dubious honor of runner-up in the Worst Boss in Congress contest, which took into consideration that Hill had once thrown a letter opener at an aide and screamed “I don’t eat deli” when a staffer brought him the wrong type of sandwich.
  • Hill’s infamous criticism of childless opponent Nancy Keenan- Keenan had no choice in the matter due to a hysterectomy, an experience she called “devastating”.
  • Hill’s abysmal voting record
  • Hill’s ties to Triad Management, Inc; a shadowy shell group accused of numerous campaign finance law violations. After Hill expressed to Triad a need for a third party to attack opponent Bill Yellowtail for “wife beating”, the management firm funded brutal campaign ad attacks on Yellowtail. Particularly hypocritical was Hill’s statement “I stood up for my kids, he left his.” considering Hill’s refusal to leave a seedy lounge after his wife discovered him carousing with his younger lover while his young children waited in the car.

Vilifying Hill by citing any of his aforementioned imperfections seems more like educating voters than attacking an opponent.  Montanans have a right to hear the good, bad and in this case, the ugly truth about our candidates.   Rick Hill represents the worst part of the Republican party- the lobbyist fourth branch of government and for decades has said one thing and done another–all the while profiting handsomely off the political system. When Rick Hill quit Congress, more Montanans viewed him unfavorably than favorably, Stapleton’s ad addressing Rick Hill’s “baggage” simply reminds them why.

UPDATE:  Corey Stapleton has released the following statement:

To all who are interested,We received some interest surrounding the different allegations in my
campaign’s latest ad “Baggage”, which highlights some of my opponent Rick
Hill’s public choices.  I hide behind no lawyers, no employees, no spokesmen
who can say whatever–and then recant the following day (as we just saw with
Brock Lowrance, Hill’s campaign manager, switching his narrative from “not
only false but entirely fabricated” to admitting Hill did own the Helena
properties referenced as “Sweetheart Real Estate Deals”.)And of course, Rick Hill has not made any statements denying the bags.  It’s
important to know, as governor, the contrast of my openness and Hill’s hiding
behind spokesmen and lawyers, is germane to the character and integrity issues
brought up in ‘Baggage’, and further underscores our argument of his
unelectability as Governor.  We think it’s important to have transparency and
openness in our political leaders.  I will be that kind of Governor.I strongly stand by the ‘bags’ in our ad:“Vietnam”:  Selective Service record enclosed.

“Obamacare”:  Actions, not words.  When you sit on a board of directors you
are accountable for the actions of the organization.  When a ship runs aground
the captain is accountable, regardless.  This is a big deal in leadership, and
I feel passionately about this bag because it displays Hill’s hypocrisy:  Blue
Cross Blue shield is one of the biggest financial beneficiaries of Obamacare.
They spent $9.7 million in 2009 alone, lobbying for Obamacare.  They currently
have filed an amicus brief in the U.S. Supreme Court—supporting the
‘individual mandate’ which is the backbone of Obamacare!  It is what it
is–Blue Cross/Blue Shield supported and is supporting Obamacare.  And Rick
Hill bragged on two occasions of “chairing a board of directors for one of
the largest insurance companies in America” at Republican Lincoln Reagan
dinners that I attended in 2011.  I took his statement at his word.  If it is
untrue that he chaired, but was rather a director, that is because we based
our statement on his.  And all directors of the Board are accountable to Blue
Cross’s actions.

I copy and paste right off Google (Mar 26, 2012):
legitgov
ShareThis
Blue Cross-Blue Shield of Mass. filed amicus brief in support of Obama’s
health-care law –In SCOTUS case, Obamacare has industry allies 26 Mar 2012
Lawyers from the health insurance and hospital industries have petitioned the
Supreme Court to save President Obama’s health-care law from a constitutional
challenge by 26 states and a small-business group, while other big-business
lobbies have stayed neutral. Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Massachusetts filed an
amicus brief with the court in support of Obama’s Department of Health & Human
Services. The insurer writes that it played a central role in crafting Mitt
Romney’s Massachusetts health-care law that served as the prototype of
Obamacare… On the question of constitutionality, Blue Cross/Blue Shield of
Massachusetts argues that the individual mandate is “a valid exercise of the
Commerce Power because Congress had a rational basis for concluding that, in
the aggregate, the practice of self-insuring for the cost of health care
substantially affects interstate commerce.”

My plea to Montana:  Do not be fooled by the entities or politicians who hide
their actions behind confusing words and legal mumbo jumbo.  Blue Cross is a
good company, but their corporate structure allows them scalability when it
suits their purpose and deniability when it doesn’t.  We need leaders to hold
both our corporations, unions AND our government accountable.

“Sweetheart Real Estate Deals”:  Rick Hill admitted on Aaron Flint’s “Voices
of Montana” radio show last year to a caller’s question regarding such real
estate.  Hill responded that he hadn’t had that property “since 2002 or 2003″.

“$400 million tax”:  Hill lobbied for passage of former Gov. Marc Racicot’s
sales tax proposal.

“Workers Comp”:  Hill routinely takes credit for his role in the 1990’s
workers comp overhaul…fastforward: Montana’s Workers Comp was routinely
panned as one of the worst in the country in the 2011 Legislature.  If you
want credit for the fix you get credit for the failure, too.

“Jack Abramoff”:  Congressman Hill received donations from Jack Abramoff.

“Ponzi Scheme Lawsuit”:  Rick Hill constantly touts his success in business on
the campaign trail.  He made millions of dollars in the insurance business,
but then lost those millions in the investment business.  Victim or Baggage?
You decide..because I can’t—Hill’s pre-emptive lawsuit, and his role in the
investment scam, won’t be determined until sometime after the Primary
election–when it would be too late for Republicans to act (should they
nominate Hill).  Montanans deserve to know why Hill filed a lawsuit several
months after filing for office.  See enclosure

“Lobbyist”:  Rick Hill was a registered lobbyist for the past decade, since he
left Congress.

All of the bags in “Rick Hill’s Baggage” are tied to public records.  While
“Baggage” might be tough on Hill, it is fair.

Sincerely,

Corey Stapleton
Candidate for Montana Governor

 Click on the links below for more information:

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?

An Alternate Path to Defeat: Democrat Files for Montana GOP Governor


The Montana GOP is going to need a bigger tent to fit all of the candidates seeking the Republican nomination for governor.  Yesterday, former state transportation director Jim Lynch announced his candidacy in the already very crowded field. Lynch, who lost a Senate race as a Democrat in 1994 and has been a member of Democrat Governor Brian Schweitzer‘s  cabinet since 2005 insists he is actually a Republican.  In today’s Billings Gazette, he says

 “I’m probably like most Montanans,” he said. “Most of my views are Republican. I’m a Republican. I’ve never voted for a Democrat for president in my life.”

Although he claims he is running to “pave the way for economic development”, it appears he simply needs a job after Governor Schweitzer asked him to resign under very questionable circumstances.  The governor claimed the DOT’s  hiring of Lynch’s daughter potentially violated nepotism laws but rumors have circulated for some time that Lynch was also under investigation for misappropriating hundreds of thousands of tax dollars to buy an airplane, violating Montana’s constitution.  Shortly before Lynch resigned, a district judge also ruled that the DOT had violated the Montana Environmental Protection Act in approval of the mega-loads plan with an insufficient environmental assessment. Considering the hiring of his daughter took place four years ago, it does appear there may be more to the story.

Sorry Lynch, I don’t think you are like “most Montanans”.  In fact, you may have even more baggage than Rick Hill. Ironically, Lynch was rumored earlier this year to be pondering a Democratic run at Governor, but apparently further fracturing the Republican Party was a preferable path to defeat. Fourteen have filed for candidacy thus far:

Republicans:

–State Sen. Jeff Essmann, Billings. Essmann crafted the unpopular SB 423, which essentially forces medical marijuana patients to seek black market medicine.

–Bob Fanning, Pray. Fanning is an anti-wolf activist.

–Ex-U.S. Rep. Rick Hill, Helena. Ahead in fundraising, behind in morals.

–Neil Livingstone, Helena. Livingstone’s campaign is essentially broke, but he has the means to buy himself name recognition.

–Jim Lynch, Kalispell.

–Ex-Sen. Ken Miller, Laurel.  Ken Miller was sent by God to run for Governor….. again.  His campaign is rather peculiar.

–County Commissioner Jim O’Hara, Fort Benton.

–Ex-Sen.Minority Leader Corey Stapleton, Billings.

–Drew Turiano, Helena, self-published sci-fi author

Democrats: Attorney General Steve Bullock, Helena, and State Sen. Larry Jent, Bozeman.

Independent: Robert Coate, Bozeman.

Libertarian: Ron Vandervender, Cascade.

No party disclosed yet: Ronald Lassle, Helena.

Is Lynch a Republican or a Democrat?  With his “grandiose sense of self-importance”, he perhaps suffers  from a cluster B personality disorder, like Narcissistic Personality Disorder or Anti-Social Personality Disorder. Many afflicted have a shifting morality, they are always ready to shift values when necessary.

 

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.

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.

 

 

 

Rick Hill: Campaign Negativity is Only OK When its MY Choice


Mermaid-Gate a dirty democrat trick?

A full 12 days after the Mermaid-gate scandal arose, Rick Hill decided to respond….. by pointing the finger- or is it a FIN- toward anyone other than himself.  Posted on Hill’s Twitter account was a link to the following statement, with the words “responding to anonymous attacks on my family”.

Campaigns are tough.  After a while you expect the nasty attacks and the anonymous charges.  It goes with the territory.  But I’ve learned that the best way to deal with shady attacks like this is to hit them head on.

So let me quickly respond to the latest anonymous email and blog attacks.

Thirty-four years ago, I had a difficult marriage and went through a rough divorce.  That’s the reality.  Like any Montanan who has ever gone through one knows, it was unfortunate for everyone involved.

Since that time I’ve been blessed.  My wife Betti and I will have been happily married for 28 years this June.  We’ve raised three great boys.  And we’ve been graced with 7 grandchildren.

My family is my foundation. So it’s disappointing that they have to put up with twisted anonymous attacks from 30 years ago… and it’s disappointing for them to hear the same recycled Democrat dirty tricks that didn’t work when we won my first race for Congress.

But unfortunately this kind of stuff is par for the course in today’s politics.  And that’s exactly what people are sick of.  With so much at stake this election—a soft national economy, job losses here in Montana, a growing debt, and a government takeover of healthcare—Montana needs this election to be about big things, not little things.

So that’s where my campaign is going to stay focused: on fixing Montana’s business climate to achieve the job growth we need; standing up to federal overreach into Montana’s affairs, and fixing our broken education system.

Montana has big challenges we need to address.  And even bigger opportunities if we get them right.  See you on the campaign trail soon.

First of all, nobody attacked his family.  This is about RICK HILL’S indiscretions, not his family.  This may be the first time that Hill didn’t beat his opponents to the punch in going negative.  “High Country News” posted a story about him from in 1996 called “A scrappy Republican tries to cut down a green Democrat”…..  from the story:

Rick Hill was so far behind in the polls last winter that his two Republican primary opponents said Hill wasn’t even a contender for Montana’s one seat in the House of Representatives.
So Hill tried something. He went negative.
He attacked his Republican opponents, who both complained he was being nasty and unfair when he called them tax-and-spend liberals in bad disguises.

But the strategy worked. Hill rallied in the final weeks of the campaign and won the primary with 44 percent of the vote, eight points more than his closest opponent.

In an article in the November, 1997 edition of Time magazine, called “The Secret GOP Campaign

Two weeks before the 1996 election, Democrat Bill Yellowtail was in a neck-and-neck race for Montana’s only House seat when a TV ad swooped out of the Big Sky. “Who is Bill Yellowtail?” it opened. “He preaches family values, but he took a swing at his wife.” Yellowtail lost. A year later he’s still trying to figure out who really took a swing at him. The ad’s sponsor was a nonprofit group with a do-gooder name, Citizens for Reform. But the deeper mystery was how the organization knew to air a domestic incident more than 20 years old. Republican documents obtained by TIME help piece together this puzzle. What they point to is the possibility that G.O.P. candidates and groups that purport to be independent may have broken election law by coordinating their strategy.

Citizens for Reform was really a shell for Triad Management Services, a firm based in Washington that matches conservative donors with candidates and causes. In late September, a Triad agent huddled with the campaign of Yellowtail’s opponent, Rick Hill, and figured out how to help. According to a Triad memo, Hill needed a “3rd party to expose Yellowtail” on “wife-beating.” Citizens for Reform launched its ad a couple of weeks later, sparing Hill the indignity of playing the mudslinger. It was a turning point in the race, and it appears to be a prime example of the new dirty word in the financing of elections: coordination.

Clearly, Hill is upset that someone attacked before he could.  After all, he is the one who typically goes negative.  How dare someone beat him to it.  He may consider carrying on a humiliating affair a “little thing”, but I’d bet his ex-wife would disagree.  Perhaps more damning than the actual affair however, were his ex-wife’s statements about living with constant emotional abuse from Hill claiming he ridiculed her about her looks and lack of education.  The marriage and eventual divorce may have been rocky, but the ex-wife came forward with these allegations only after Hill attacked his opponent on his lack of family values when he had a little issue with his own. 

To this day we don’t know where the email originated, but the evidence still points to the Miller camp.  It has tea party written all over it. As for the  “anonymous email and blog attacks”, no bloggers attacked him.  We simply posted the email.  We aren’t exhibiting any  “The same recycled Democrat dirty tricks that didn’t work “.  In fact, all signs point to someone farther to the right of Hill, not the left.  In addition to that, whoever was responsible apparently learned from reading Rick Hill Campaigning 101.