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.

House of Galloway Continues Empire Building With $410,000 State Lease

House of Galloway Continues Empire Building With $410,000 State Lease

Most people in Great Falls know that the Department of Justice Driver’s License Services office relocated to the old Interstate Bank building at 1401 Market Place Drive last year. But they probably don’t know that the building being leased by the State is owned by TJBBPHASEP LLC. Never heard of it? Neither had we. Turns out that the “registered agent” for this corporation is Steven Galloway and the address is Steven and Lola Sheldon-Galloway’s.

The building in question used to be a bank but has been vacant for a long time. The only use it has seen recently has been to host the local Republican Pachyderm Club. We assume the Pachyderms didn’t pay for use of the building since the Galloways are leaders in the Club. The new lease sent the Pachyderms packing to a new location and Galloways with a significant increase in income.The terms of the new lease provides a five year term at $6,900 per month or $82,000 per year. It also allows a 2% annual increase. The term of the lease is five years. Don’t run for your calculator. The total gross income from the lease, payable to Galloway’s shell corporation, is $410,000. Information obtained from the Department of Justice shows that they only considered one other location, which actually cost less per foot, but was eliminated for other reasons. That information also indicates that the Department began drafting the Galloway lease before the final numbers came in from the other bidder.

We have written before about Steven Galloway’s habit of introducing legislation which benefits his business interests. We have also examined the property he and Lola Sheldon-Galloway own around Great Falls.

To be clear, we have no reason to accuse the Galloways of breaking any laws (we don’t have enough information for that). But being in the legislature sure doesn’t hurt when you are in a competitive bidding process for doing business with the State.

It is common for some legislators to introduce bills that help their bottom line. See our article on Senator Jeremy Trebas
But it raises a question. Are they there to represent us or their own pocket books?

The Clown Car at The PSC Rolls On

The Clown Car at The PSC Rolls On

Legislative Auditors have once again examined the Public Service Commission and, once again, they don’t like what they see.  Specifically, the audit found that only 23% of employees at the PSC  believed that commissioners behaved with high ethical standards.  The auditors found that the shenanigans of various commissioners and consistent promotion of fossil fuels over the last few years have undermined public trust in PSC decision making.  Here’s a brief recap of some of the actions of commissioners which led to another bad audit report.

  • Commissioner Randy Pinocci was arrested for witness tampering in a private matter.  He is currently awaiting trial.
  • Commissioners Randy Pinocci and Tony O’Donnell issued a press release saying that there was a frighteningly real possibility of black outs in eastern Montana and called on the legislature to save the coal plants in southeastern Montana.  Montana Dakota Utilities said the release was “completely unfounded.”
  • Commissioner Jennifer Fielder threatened medical providers in Helena with “political consequences” for refusing to administer a nonclinical remedy for COVID-19.  
  • Commissioner Randy Pinocci publicly suggested that the City of Missoula be targeted for black outs because he said they do not support coal development.
  • Commissioners routinely advocate for coal power even though they are responsible to objectively examine various resources and mechanisms for meeting power needs.  

Commission Chairman, James Brown (who just announced he is running for State Auditor ) objected to much of the audit report saying that some steps have been taken to address some of the issues.  But clearly many issues remain unresolved.