Unfortunately, the PSC has become a feather bed for right-wing activists. And why not. The salary is $111,000 with full state benefits. And because no one supervises the Commissioners, they have plenty of time to devote to playing right-wing politics.
Here are brief bios of each commissioner you won’t find on the PSC website.
Commission President James Brown– Brown is an attorney and Republican political climber. While serving on the Commission in 2022 and drawing full paychecks from the state, Brown ran for the Montana Supreme Court and lost. He was accused of numerous ethics violations for injecting partisan politics into a judicial race, which is a violation of the Judicial Code of Ethics. Brown was also the lawyer for the State Republican Party for sixyears and represented the American Tradition Partnership, a dark money group which was featured in a PBS Frontline expose titled Big Sky, Big Money.
Commission Vice Chair Jennifer Fielder– Elected to the Commission in 2020, Fielder served eight years in the Montana Legislature, developing a reputation as an aggressive opponent of conservation efforts. She also served as the CEO of the American Lands Council which advocates for transferring Federal lands to state and county governments. She also served as the vice chair of the Montana Republican Party. She was a board member of the Sanders County Natural Resources Council which was started in 2006 by Militia of Montana founder John Trochman.
Commissioner Tony O’Donnell– Elected to the Commission in 2016, O’Donnell is term limited and will be leaving the Commission after the 2024 election. He was removed from a national regulator’s organization after telling racially offensive stories using the “N” word. He also ran afoul of the Montana Commissioner of Political Practices when he “loaned” Republican legislative candidate Rod Garcia $3,000 for use in his campaign for legislature.
Commissioner Annie Bukacek– Elected in 2022, Bukacek is an MD but is best known for her far-right activism. She was a leader in the anti-Covid Vaccine movement, organizing and participating in protests while serving on the local Board of Health in Flathead County. She caused another board member to resign. He said he could not serve with Bukacek in good conscience. In 2009 when she was leader of the Montana Prolife Coalition, she came under investigation for her billing practices relating to allegations that she submitted Medicaid reimbursements for time spent praying with patients.
Commissioner Randy Pinocci– What can we say about Pinocci?! He’ll be done with the PSC in 2026. Rather than take up a bunch of space here, you can follow these links for more about Pinocci.
No need to wonder why these people are not very interested or concerned about rate increases for ordinary Montanans. We leave you with this quote from Annie Bukacek regarding the recent 28% rate increase she voted for: “This historic unprecedented increase that people are talking about, it’s $25 to $30 a month. That’s the cost of three to four dozen eggs.” Kind of like Marie Antoinette saying “Let them eat cake”