Follow the MONEY:The Truth Behind “Safe Community, Safe Kids”

Do as I say, not as I do!!

Brother Steve Zabawa, LDS faithful (Montaliban/GOP God Squad member) car dealership owner, isn’t known for his integrity.  When Zabawa faced dire economic circumstances, Tony Woolery stepped in to save the auto group from financial ruin.  Woolery, Rimrock Auto Group’s general manager obtains cannabis on behalf of his wife Melanie, who suffers from terminal bone cancer.  To show his sincere gratitude, Zabawa began a campaign to repeal Montana’s medical cannabis law entirely.  Recently, he went so far as to suggest that after it is no longer legal to grow one’s own cannabis, surely some good people in the black market will step up to assist terminal patients by risking their freedom to provide illegal marijuana to them in dark alleys.  Apparently Zabawa hasn’t ever witnessed a friend or relative dying from a horribly painful illness.  May God have mercy on his soul.

Although Safe Community, Safe Kids at first glance appears to be a group composed of vast numbers of soccer mommies and nanny-state advocating citizens, nobody other than Zabawa is willing to put their money where their mouth is. According to financial reports it appears the only person financing the quest to save our communities and kids from the medical use of cannabis is Steve Zabawa.

Financial filings with the Office of Political Practices were due March 15 for all political action committees, yet Safe Community Safe Kids failed to file a timely report.  According to NBC Montana,  there were several fishy stories offered by the group when questioned about their failure to file.

NBC Montana contacted Safe Community Safe Kids to ask for financial reports. The group denied having spent any money on the ads; “nothing, not a dime!.” When confronted with a station ad placement for $816.00, spokeswoman Cherrie Brady claimed the expense was far less than the $5,000 threshold for having to file a report.

After being contacted by Jennifer Hensley, Montana’s political practices commissioner, Cherrie Brady filed a tardy report last night.  The report indicated that expenditures exceeded $15,000, well in excess of the $5,000 threshold cited by Brady.   In the interest of keeping a community safe, one would suspect the list of donors would be massive, but not in this case.  You see, Steve Zabawa, owner of Rimrock Auto Group and Mercedes Benz auto dealerships in Billings was the SOLE donor listed in the filings.  Whether he is actually the the lone financial driving force behind the group or the group is lying, is at this time unclear.  The group has a prominently displayed “DONATE” button on their website, so the absence of any other donors is highly suspicious.  Safe Community, Safe Kids co-founder Susan Smith’s husband Cary Smith is an elected state house representative from Billings, so campaign filings are nothing new to her.  Claiming ignorance of our state’s political practices statutes cannot possibly be excused for Mrs Smith.  UPDATE: Jennifer Hensley has decided against imposing penalties on the group, which promised to file timely reports in the future.

To search for campaign filings for any political action committee (PAC), go to Montana’s Office of Political Practices website.  Select “Committee Report Search” .  In the past, I’ve searched for the Safe Community, Safe Kids financial filings and have only found expenditures and in kind donations from the group’s founders, all actual donors were notably absent on their C6 forms filed quarterly.

In a montanafesto post last week, we exposed Zabawa and Rep James Knox as hypocrites after  documents surfaced tying both of them to attempts to glean exorbitant profits from a medical marijuana entrepreneur.   The  Billings Gazette Monday featured the expose’ in an article titled “Profits and principles mixed in medical marijuana debate”.   Here is a pdf file of Zabawa’s lease contract with Mark Higgins.

419 Daniels St LOI

Perhaps instead of allowing Zabawa, a businessman rumored to have ties to the mafia, to “protect”  us from the medical use of cannabis, we should focus on protecting our community and our kids from shady characters like Steve Zabawa.  His dealerships are plagued with lawsuits from former employees and customers alleging misconduct ranging from failure to honor contractual obligations to fraud, foreclosure, wrongful firing, failure to pay employees, the list goes on and on. Zabawa also has a history of hiring employees out of the Alpha House who are willing to work for virtually nothing during their stay at the halfway house. One of his salesmen, Maurice Gunn was recently arrested passed out in a McDonald’s drive thru in Billings for his 4th DUI while driving a Cadillac Escalade registered to Rimrock Auto Group. He and other Rimrock Auto Group employees served prison sentences after defrauding the federal government via fraudulent FEMA claims as they attempted to profit off of Hurricane Katrina.   Interestingly, Zabawa’s partner in crime, Representative James Knox also has a history of shady business dealings and failure to pay his employees.  Birds of a feather……..

It is clear to me that the genuine hazards for our kids, community and state are hanging out at 2540 Phyliss Lane (Rimrock Auto Group) in Billings.  I’d suggest refusing to do business with such unethical  people. For your information, Cherrie Brady owns the Del Taco restaurants in Billings and James Knox owns KBS Computers.

Profiting from Hypocrisy

It seems two members of the GOP God Squad, Representative James Knox and Brother Steve Zabawa  have been attempting to profit off of the very substance they call a “scourge”.  Cannabis, the plant that robs Montana of its rough and tough image and puts entire generations at risk, appears to be acceptable to these hypocrites as long as it makes them money.

Brother Steve Zabawa, faithful LDS car dealer, attempted to enter into a lease agreement with Montana Medical Marijuana at the location below.  He reportedly also negotiated with the business to rent his property in exchange for 10% of the net profits of the medical cannabis business.  He mentioned that he’d like the owner to provide his son Zac with employment as well.  Odd that little more than a year later, he’d be testifying in hearings BEGGING for the legislature to repeal the law allowing medical use of cannabis- especially considering his general manager’s wife is suffering from terminal bone cancer and receives help in pain and symptom relief from cannabis her husband obtains on her behalf.  Zabawa wants to take away her ability to sleep.  What a piece of work.               

Here is the actual agreement between Steve Zabawa and Montana Medical Cannabis.

419 Daniels St LOI

Representative James Knox, who has been CRYING as of late about medical marijuana (his brother is an “addict”) provided a quote to design a website for the same business, Montana Medical Cannabis.  He even offered to virtually “give away” his services because he was slow.  Morals in this case appear to be very dynamic, changing based on the potential for profit.   Here is a price quote from Knox.

It is mind blowing to me that Knox is critical on federal intervention on any level… unless it concerns medical marijuana.  Rumors have circulated throughout the cannabis community that Knox was a marijuana dealer prior to being a politician but Knox “cried” at the March 11, 2011 HB161 hearing because he “wants his brother back”.  Good grief…. maybe he feels guilty for getting him “hooked”?  He needs an education….. there is no such thing as marijuana addiction.

Zabawa and Knox want the federal government out of our healthcare.  I agree with them  but you won’t find me praising the feds for raiding legal medical cannabis shops as I know there are now THOUSANDS of Montanans who have no safe or legal access to a medicine that they truly need.

UPDATE: Rep. Knox has asked that we post a retraction as there was apparently a confidentiality disclaimer attached to the email where he offered to “virtually give away” his services to a medical marijuana provider. He has turned this over to his attorney.  We apologize for any inadvertent breach of confidentiality.  We are, after all not attorneys, but volunteer bloggers.  Apparently avoiding immediate consequences of blatant hypocrisy can be achieved by placing a confidentiality disclaimer to the bottom of each page of sanctimony.  Wouldn’t it be much easier to actually practice what you preach?  It never ceases to amaze me that legislators are so quick to condemn the lifestyles of others while partaking in very similar (or worse) activities.  Rep. Knox’s correspondence via Facebook suddenly includes the following message:

This communication may contain privileged and/or confidential information. It is intended solely for the use of the addressee. If you are not the intended recipient, you are strictly prohibited from disclosing, copying, distributing or using any of this information. If you received this communication in error, please contact the sender immediately and destroy this material in its entirety, whether electronic or hard copy. This communication may contain nonpublic personal
information about consumers subject to the restrictions of the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act. You may not directly or indirectly reuse or disclose such information for any purpose other than to provide the services for which you are receiving the information.

UPDATE OF THE UPDATE: Here is the email in question.