Senator Shockley and the Breeding of Lawlessness


Do as I say, not as I do.

Sigh….yet another hypocritical politician. Hey, nobody’s perfect, but when your focus as an elected official is legislating the morality of others, you should probably possess some pretty impeccable ethics yourself. Senator Jim Shockley (R, Victor), chair of the Judiciary, State Administration, and Ethics committees was cited last week for open container after an off-duty police officer noticed him drinking a beer while driving.  Shockley’s committee is hearing a number of bills regarding impairment as many consider Montana’s lax DUI laws to be responsible for high fatality rates on our highways. Senator Shockley is seeking a repeal of the medical marijuana law claiming “it breeds lawlessness.”  He is also sponsoring a bill to allow game wardens to issue minor in possession tickets as well as  one authorizing warrants to obtainblood or breath tests in DUI cases.

Senator Jim Peterson, President of the Senate, in reaction to Shockley’s citation, released the following statement:

We are obviously very disappointed to hear the report that a member of our body was found to be in possession of an open container while driving last Friday evening. We are in full support of strong laws against drinking and driving that apply to every Montanan. We are committed to pursuing meaningful DUI reform and working to change the culture of drinking and driving in Montana.”

I wonder if Shockley has been smoking some medical marijuana…. considering the lawlessness of his actions.  It seems that every day in our local newspapers, we read articles about Montanans being arrested for their eighth, tenth, or even their fourteenth citation for driving under the influence of alcohol.   Perhaps the legislators should focus on keeping habitual drunk drivers off of our streets instead of obsessing over repealing the medical marijuana law simply because it doesn’t fit into their idea of morality.

I realize that everyone makes mistakes, but we should hold our elected officials to higher standards.  Shockley’s excuse for drinking and driving was that it was a lapse in judgement.  Returning home from the legislative session in Helena, he stopped in Drummond to clear his windshield and purchased a Clamato according to Shockley.  He admitted to drinking one beer prior to leaving Helena as well.  Although the senator’s BAC was .03 (below the legal threshold of .08), this hardly seems like a “lapse in judgement” considering he had to purchase the beer and Clamato.  One would think that there would have been at least one moment where he recalled supporting a law banning the activity in which he would be momentarily participating.   I realize this charge isn’t the end of the world, Shockley was clearly not legally intoxicated this time, but how often does he drink alcohol alone as he commutes to and from Helena?  Could he truly not curtail his habit  while serving in our brief biennial session? Way to provide Governor Schweitzer (who recently called the Montana legislature the “biggest boozers”) more ammunition.

I really do prefer criticizing liberals so I pray the GOP stops giving me reason to chastise them.  Sadly, hypocrisy reigns supreme in politics.  That said, this is Senator Shockley’s first alcohol-related offense.  He paid his fine, accepted responsibility, and will no doubt be punished in his bid for attorney general.  Hopefully in the future, he will remove the log from his own eye before condemning and imposing regulations on others.

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13 thoughts on “Senator Shockley and the Breeding of Lawlessness

  1. Actually, Ken Petersen is a Representative – Jim Petersen is president of the Senate.

    The open container law is a bad law anyway. Shockley’s arrest just attests to that – it is possible to drive responsibly while drinking and not being over the legal limit. I’ve seen school teacher stop at the local tavern and order one for the road after a trying day at school. I just don’t see it as an big issue.

  2. “One would think that there would have been at least one moment where he recalled supporting a law banning the activity in which he would be momentarily participating.”

    Actually, Shockley opposed the ban til the very end. He never supported it.

  3. the guy stepped down from the chair, get off his back. He never denied anything, made a mistake, owned up to it, paid the fine, resigned so that the committee can move on and be productive. Move on!!!!!

    • Hey Jake, this was posted prior to Sen Shockley resigning from committee chair. Honestly, I don’t really care if he was drinking a red beer as he drove down the interstate, I simply find it hypocritical that he wants to take medicine away from legal medical marijuana patients because it “breeds lawlessness”. If Mr Shockley wasn’t in favor of such legislation, I wouldn’t dream of criticizing him for something so silly. I actually feel bad for him.

      • I agree with montanafesto. Shockley was a hypocrite, on the one hand all for banning medical marijuana, while in the other hand he’s got a beer he’s swilling as he’s driving down the highway, violating another law he voted for.
        If he’s gonna play Carrie Nation and get all holier than thou, better not be living in a glass house.

  4. Meanwhile he’s also doing all he can to prove the Governor’s point about boozing legislators. We both defended the legislature, but maybe the Governor’s stereotype held true here.

  5. He was right to step down as chair, but also deserves a second chance and the right to still serve as a legislator. His resignation showed a higher level of responsibility than we usually witness from politicians in similar situations. I served on a volunteer board once with Senator Shockley and he never came across to me as anything but a smart, caring and humble man. This should be left in the hands of the voters of his district to determine his ability to serve, and to those statewide if he chooses to continue his run for AG.

  6. mr. benson – The Governor’s point was nonsense, as is your suggestion that this event in any way supports it. Anyways, which is more irresponsible, this or unsustainably doubling state spending over six years? Those who will now suffer from a drop in state services have only the overspending ways of Schweitzer and the last two legislatures to thank. What they built was reckless and unsustainable.

  7. No he doesn’t deserve a second chance as legislator! I am in his senate district. He is the ONLY legislator that DOESN’T have email. And, you can’t get a hold of him by phone. So, tell me, how does he figure out what his constiuents want? Answer? He doesn’t care. Ravalli county voted for medical marijuana. I sent an email via Action Alert and actually got a reply from him. He said he favored reform, not repeal. The next day, he voted on the senate judiciary committee to repeal. He’s a liar, a hypocrit and a man who thinks he is above the law and knows what best for everyone. Get rid of him. He’s TRASH!

    • You are right. Since this post, it has become apparent that the GOP isn’t at all interested in hearing from constituents, THEY DON’T CARE. It didn’t matter what sort of testimony was given in hearings, their decisions were already made. I think there are far worse crimes than an open container violation, but when you are legislating your warped morality on a population that, on their own via initiative, changed Montana law, your hypocrisy should be noted. Shockley is running for attorney general as well… he hasn’t a chance in hell at that post, in my opinion.

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