Great Falls Mayor Cory Reeves Refuses to Issue Pride Proclamation

Great Falls Mayor Cory Reeves Refuses to Issue Pride Proclamation

“As mayor, I have decided not to issue a proclamation for LGBTQ+ Month. While I firmly believe in equality for all individuals, I also believe that the government should not be involved in matters concerning personal and private relationships, whether they involve straight individuals or members of the LGBTQ+ community. My goal is to ensure that all citizens are treated with equal respect and dignity, without government interference in personal matters. The government should never condemn nor celebrate who should love who; those are personal life choices that the government should not interfere with.”

There’s a lot to unpack in Reeves’ refusal to issue a proclamation acknowledging Pride Month. Though he couched his statement in the language of equality, his statement reveals a deep prejudice against LGBTQ+ people and a denial of reality and history.

Let’s begin with the reason cities issue “proclamations” in the first place. Generally the goal of a proclamation is to honor, celebrate or create awareness of an event, special occasion, cause or significant issues. They do not require funding, and they do not have “force of law.”  They are a feel-good thing which brings people together around something they care about. Reeves’ action does just the opposite. His action has set off controversy while marginalizing a significant segment of the community. And his covering up by saying, “It’s none of our business” is simply lame. The same thing could be said of most proclamations cities make.

Discrimination and violence have been directed at the LGBTQ+ community for decades as part of an effort to keep this group out of the mainstream of society.  Unfortunately, this is a tradition with lots of precedent in American society.  Many groups which have been pushed out have organized to push back. One tool for doing that is celebrating their existence and refusing to remain silent in the margins. Another is forming civic groups and “fraternal” organizations.

As a result we have St. Patrick’s Day (Irish), Martin Luther King Day (African Americans), and so on. Civic and fraternal organizations were formed to organize and promote communities which have faced bigotry, rejection and discrimination in society.  The Sons of Norway, The Hibernians, and Knights of Columbus are just a few of the better known of these organizations.  

The LGBTQ+ community organizing Pride Parades and Pride Month and asking local governments to issue proclamations of support and celebration is a time honored tradition in America. Unfortunately, Cory Reeves’ refusal to issue a proclamation also finds its roots in tradition as well. The efforts of all of “out” groups to confront discriminatory treatment has always been resisted by those in power.  And just like Cory Reeves, those who seek to keep others “in their place”  cloak themselves with phony excuses which deny the fundamental bigotry of their actions.  

Unfortunately, this is not the first time the City of Great Falls has flubbed this issue. In the summer of 2020, the LGBTQ+ community asked the city to adopt an ordinance which prohibited discrimination against them as has been done in other major cities in Montana (Missoula, Helena, Butte, Bozeman). After taking public comment, the commission decided not to adopt an ordinance which specifically condemned discrimination against LGBTQ+ individuals.

The LGBTQ+ community has come a long way in the last 50 years.  But, as Reeves’ action demonstrates, there is still a long way to go. Change in issues like this is a long slow struggle which requires commitment and tenacity.  The LGBTQ+ community understands that and will continue to press for equal treatment.  This motto says it all:  “We’re here, we’re queer, get used to it!”


AG Knudsen- Montana’s Chief Law Enforcement Officer?

AG Knudsen- Montana’s Chief Law Enforcement Officer?

At a fundraising event on May 11, Attorney General Austin Knudsen told a crowd of potential contributors that campaign contribution limits are “ridiculous.”  He went on to tell the crowd that he had recruited a person to run against him in the Republican Primary. Current contribution limits in Montana law provide that a donor can contribute the maximum amount to a candidate in a contested primary race and again in a race in the general election. Candidates are also allowed to carry unspent funds in the primary over into the general election. This shell game allows a candidate to essentially double the amount of money that can be raised from one donor.

The Daily Montanan reported that Knudsen said,  “I do technically have a primary. However, he is a young man who I asked to run against me, because our campaign laws are ridiculous. So, he’s a young man from my part of the state. His name is Logan Olson. He’s not running. He filed to run against me simply because under our current campaign finance laws in Montana, it allows me to raise more money. So, he supports me and he’s going to vote for me [audience laughs].”

The Montana Free Press reported that the friend Knudsen recruited to “run” against him has not organized any campaign, other than filing for office. In and of itself this game Knudsen and his young friend, Logan Olson, are playing is likely illegal.  But then it turns out that Olson doesn’t even meet the legal requirements for running for Attorney General.  Specifically, the law requires that candidates running for Attorney General have  five years of legal practice in Montana under their belt in order to run. Olson was admitted to the Montana Bar in 2020.  

Montana law prohibits falsely filing for office or making a false oath or affidavit as required for candidates running for office. The law also prohibits one candidate from enticing or threatening other candidates not to run in an election. The Montana Democratic Party has filed two complaints with the Commissioner of Political Practices which have been accepted for investigation. This is just one more example of Knudsen doing as he pleases without regard for the law.  He is currently charged with 41 ethics violations filed by the State Bar’s Office of Disciplinary Counsel.


Congratulations Marlee Sunchild!

Congratulations Marlee Sunchild!

The results of the local school board election are in!  The winner, by a wide margin, is Marlee Sunchild.  There were a total of 10,108 votes cast in the three-way race between Sunchild, Rodney Meyers and Tony Rosales. Marlee Sunchild received more than half the total vote at 5,668 with Meyers getting 2,568 and Rosales a distant third place at 1,755. Congratulations Marlee Sunchild!

Vote In The Republican Primary?

Vote In The Republican Primary?

It seems like all of the old rules went out the window with the election of Donald Trump in 2016.  With the resources and energy of far-right groups like the Freedom Caucus, Moms for Liberty, American for Prosperity and others, the right flank of the Republican Party has taken over most of state and local government.  

Here in Cascade County there is a long standing feud between far-right Republicans, known as the Freedom Caucus, led by legislators like Steven Galloway and Lola Sheldon-Galloway, and more traditional pro-corporate Republicans like Ed Buttrey and Steve Fitzpatrick. This election almost all legislative seats have contested Republican primaries pitting these two factions against each other.  In addition, there is a hotly contested County Commission primary race between far-right incumbent Rae Grulkowski and local businessman Eric Hinebauch.

At the same time there is only one contested Democratic primary, the race for the Eastern Congressional District. The unfortunate fact is, no matter which Democratic candidate wins the primary, he will have virtually no chance of winning the seat in the general election. In short, there is not much reason to vote in the Democratic Primary here in Cascade County.

That brings us to the talk around town urging Democrats in Cascade County to vote in the Republican primary for the more reasonable of those candidates. Some folks are arguing that    a few votes could make the difference between more nuts and more reasonable people in public office. They may be right, and the fact is that there is really nothing to lose given the lack of contested Democratic primaries here.  Advocates of Democrats voting in the Republican primary, which is perfectly legal, say, “desperate times call for desperate measures|.”  

The following is a list of the contested primaries and who are the more far-right candidates.   

Cascade County Commission
Rea Grulkowski- Far Right
Eric Hinebauch

Senate District 13
Lola Sheldon-Galloway- Far Right
Josh Kassmier

House District 19
Hannah Trebas- Far Right
Darren Auger

House District 20
Steven Galloway- Far Right
Melisssa Nikolakkas

House District 21
Josh Osterman- Far Right
Ed Buttrey

House District 22
James Whitaker- Far Right
George Nikolakkas

House District 23
John Proud- Far Right
Pete Anderson- Far Right
Josh Denully
Eric Tillerman

Republicans Exercising a Little Discipline

Republicans Exercising a Little Discipline

Gianforte releases endorsement list of Republican Legislators.  Lola is out.

In a rare flexing of political muscle, Greg Gianforte took a little time off from increasing our property taxes and kicking sick people off Medicaid to issue a list of Republican primary candidates he is endorsing. In Cascade County, Lola Sheldon-Galloway’s opponent in the race for Senate District 13, Josh Kassmier, got the nod from Gianforte.  Too bad for Lola.  Maybe Gianforte didn’t like her hats.

In Gallatin County, Gianforte endorsed newcomer Kyle McMurry over incumbent, Jane Gillette.   He also weighed in on a three-way primary, endorsing Scott Sales over Caleb Hinkle and Jennifer Carlson.  Both Hinkle and Carlson are incumbents.  Sales currently is the Director of the Montana Lottery but has served in the legislature before.  Equally telling is who is not on Gianforte’s endorsement list. Neither House Speaker Matt Regier nor House Speaker Pro Tempore Rhonda Knudsen received an endorsement from Gianforte.  For the complete story: 

Meanwhile Over at Montana Association of Conservatives PAC. . .

Donald Trump Jr. came to Missoula on April 28 to speak at an event to promote the campaigns of Greg Gianforte, Tim Sheehy and Ryan Zinke.  The event is being “brought to you by” the Montana Association of Conservatives Political Action Committee (MAC PAC) and an organization called Public Square.  A quick look at Public Square and you will see “merch” for sale with catchy phrases like, “Stop Supporting Commies” and “This Girl Loves Capitalism,”  alongside other, less political products. (If you are a glutton for punishment, you can check out a Breitbart interview with Public Square CEO Michael Seifert.  Among other things he says you can purchase diapers from the only pro-life diaper company in the country! The  whole thing is kind of creepy)   WTF406 has no idea how these folks are complying with campaign law. But, if the event is “public” and held in a public building like the University Center, denying certain candidates entry because of who they are running against is likely a violation of state law.

Regardless of the sketchy nature of the event, the other news is that Republican Governor candidate Tanner Smith (Randy Pinocci is his running mate), Gianforte’s opponent in the Republican Primary, had his $75 registration fee returned and was told he was not welcome to attend. In addition, Charles Walking Child, who is challenging Tim Sheehy in the Republican Primary for US Senate, was also disinvited from the event.  Brad Johnson, who is also running against Tim Sheehy, said that he did not purchase a ticket after not being allowed to speak at a meeting of Yellowstone County Republicans. 

Responding to comments from Smith, a spokesperson for Gianforte said, “The governor did not organize this event, instead, the governor was invited to and is attending Sunday’s Protecting Freedom Event with Donald Trump, Jr.”  Cameo Flood, spokesperson for MAC PAC, declined to provide additional comment.  Brad Johnson, long-time Republican activist, state office holder and current primary challenger to Tim Sheehy ,said, “I’ve never seen it like this, It’s just absurd, 

Montanans don’t like being told what to do,”  For a complete story: 

Many of us are concerned about the authoritarian turn of the Republican Party in recent years.  These guys simply don’t tolerate disagreement.  We are seeing how Republican leadership exercises power internally. Bad as this is, it is nothing compared to how they treat other political opponents who are not members of their own party.