Injustice: Marc Racicot’s Montana Legacy: Part III


Was Judge Swandal a Casualty of Cronyism?

In March 2008, Judge Cybulski rejected Beach’s request for a hearing based on the testimony before the state parole board, including witnesses who said they heard two women talk about being involved in the killing. Judge Nels Swandal was assigned the case on April 2 after the Montana Supreme Court ordered Cybulski to appoint a new judge.

Although the Department of Justice refused to specify why,  the state asked that Swandal be removed from the case. As a result, District Judge E. Wayne Phillips of Lewistown will preside over the hearing scheduled in August of 2011.

It seems to be a somewhat logical conclusion that politics was at play here.  The conservative Nels Swandal was likely not the favored candidate of the Montana Department of Justice- a group of liberal lawyers.  Were they were afraid that the Beach case, which is sure to garner national attention, would provide publicity for Swandal and thus endanger their candidate, a Department of Justice/Helena insider?  Perhaps it simply suited Marc Racicot to have a friend on the Supreme Court?  I’d love to believe that Racicot’s endorsement was heartfelt and driven solely by belief that Baker is the best candidate for the job, but I’m not convinced.

For all of these years, Marc Racicot has maintained that Barry Beach was responsible for the death of Kim Nees.  I wonder how he is able to sleep at night although maybe, just MAYBE; he is convinced that his prosecution was fair, along with a host of other big decisions he made for our state that impact us to this day.  Had the internet been more prevalent during his tenure, I wonder if he would be remembered as Montana’s most popular governor or as a ruthless narcotics smuggler, Mr Deregulation, Enron lawyer/lobbyist, or the guy who stole Barry Beach’s entire life simply because he was overly ambitious and more concerned about his future than the truth.

From the Montanan online:

Racicot makes no apologies for deregulation or any other policy decision, although without giving specifics does admit “not everything I did was right.” He hopes his legacy is his approach, saying he will be remembered for “the character of my service and the civility of it.”

Injustice: Marc Racicot’s Montana Legacy: Part I


Questions Surround Racicot’s Endorsement of Beth Baker

RINO Racicot

Former “Republican” Montana Governor Marc Racicot‘s letter to the editor (QCN, Sept. 29, 2010) endorsing Beth Baker for Montana Supreme Court Justice, may not be as puzzling as it appears at first glance….

Beth Baker beat Nels Swandal in the race for Montana Supreme Court Justice earlier this week.  Although Swandal was, from the beginning, the underdog in the race, many consider Racicot’s endorsement as one that sealed Swandal’s fate.  While Baker campaigned as a non-partisan candidate, Swandal refused to deny his conservative values. While she may portray herself otherwise, an analysis of Beth Baker’s political contributions (to only democrats or “non-partisan” judicial candidates over the last 17 years) combined with her endorsements from liberal environmentalist groups (her husband Tim Baker is former head of Montana Wilderness Association and currently their legislative campaign coordinator) imply that Baker is hardly non-partisan.

Let’s look at Baker and Racicot’s history…. In 1989, Beth Baker became an assistant attorney general with the Montana Department of Justice after four years as a law clerk to U.S. District Court Judge Charles Lovell.  As assistant attorney general, Baker worked under Republican Attorney General Marc Racicot and Democrat Attorney General Joe Mazurek and became chief deputy of the department in 1997.  She is currently in private practice as the managing partner for the law firm Hughes, Kellner, Sullivan and Alke, PLLP in Helena.  Racicot said in his letter to the editor, in reference to Baker:

…Montanans could elect no better candidate to their Supreme Court than Beth Baker.

…we both believe that Beth is the embodiment of what a judge ought to be.

…In this race, and especially with this candidate, our party affiliations are irrelevant.

One questions why a “conservative” former governor/RNC Chair/Bush campaign manager/DC lobbyist would publicly endorse- jointly with a Democrat- a clearly liberal environmentalist with no judicial experience.

Next:  Part II