The Trust of Montana’s Innocent


 This is the initial segment in a series investigating the motivations of Montana’s anti-cannabis crusaders. Today’s post  features “Pinocchio” Pat Keim, big Tobacco/private prisons/wheat exporter lobbyist.

It has been said that the trust of the innocent is the liar’s most useful tool.  Montana’s 62nd legislative session hearings were rife with exaggerations, unfounded accusations, omissions, and blatant lies.  No oath is required when testifying before legislative committees in Montana.  Legislators appeared happy sifting through the lies, choosing the very best to repeat in future testimony and closing arguments.  Video and audio archives are available online  in case private citizens are interested in fact-checking testimony and testimony clips are available on you tube as well.    Meet Pat Keim, a Montanan typically lobbying for Big Tobacco companies (like Altria and Philip Morris) who, in testimony on behalf of Columbia Grain of Montana, claims the company is unable to find job applicants who test negative for medical marijuana.  Mr. Keim alleges that 100% of applicants were unable to pass necessary pre-employment drug screenings because of their medical marijuana use.

Montanafesto has received information that Mr. Keim’s testimony is not only misleading, but patently false.  In the last six months, we know of at LEAST 3 people, all from the same Columbia Grain facility in Plentywood, MT; who have passed all necessary drug tests and have been hired by Columbia Grain.   Mike Preemer was hired approximately 6 months ago, Mike Fraiser was hired at the beginning of the year, and Nick Chase was hired shortly before the March 11 testimony Keim provided in the preceding clip.  While Fraiser has since left the company, Preemer  and Chase are current Columbia Grain employees.  In Helena last month, an industry activist confronted Keim about the company hiring Nick Chase. Keim reluctantly acknowledged the hire but justified his testimony, claiming the statistics he used in testimony were completed prior to Chase’s employment.

Keim, whose clients in Montana’s most recent session were Alternatives, Inc (a non-profit corporation providing incarceration and treatment facilities for criminals)  and Columbia Grains International (Montana’s largest international grain exporter) for some reason wasn’t working for his typical Big Tobacco clients this session…. or was he?

Perhaps we should examine Columbia Grain’s great concern for eliminating the option for Montana’s ill to use medical cannabis as treatment for their debilitating symptoms.  From Montana’s Office of Political Practices:

I find it somewhat strange that EVERY bill of concern for Columbia Grains International concerned medical marijuana.  Although in limited capacity, I can appreciate the company’s interest in HB 43, which sought to clarify employers’ rights regarding employees who use medical cannabis, it does seem rather suspicious that none of the bills actually involve grain, exports, or anything agricultural.

Patrick Keim provided testimony that was utilized and repeated frequently by GOP cannabis repeal advocates.  If we can discover THREE employees from only ONE of their numerous facilities across the state who were indeed hired recently, it seems all of Keim’s testimony is suddenly suspect. Out of a total number of employees of the company- a number ranging from 93-100- which varied depending on Keim’s particular testimony, it only requires ONE to blow the credibility of his “100% failure” claims.

If medical cannabis is indeed such a dangerous substance, why do opponents of its use need to exaggerate claims and use fictitious figures to project their points?

When testifying in court on very minor offenses, which likely affect only the person cited for the offense; we must swear before the court to provide honest testimony.  Why do we allow lawmakers to rely on flawed and dishonest testimony to create legislation that affects all of our state’s citizens?  If  safety is our goal, we owe our children and communities policies based on facts- not fictitious, profit-driven, religious, or ignorant agendas.  Montana’s 62nd legislative session was truly a disgrace.

What can we, as private Montana citizens, do to combat this disgrace?  First of all, REGISTER TO VOTE.  If you aren’t certain of your registration status, check here.