Montana GOP produces poor vintage from sour grapes

by Jay Stevens 

How low can you go?

True to Republican party form, Montana’s branch of the party is raising a fuss about Montana state senator Sam Kitzenberg’s switch to the Democratic party. Unwilling to come to grips with the simple fact that their party may indeed be coursing steadily to the right and alienating its members and erstwhile supporters, the group is claiming that Brian Schweitzer directed the switch. And in trying to prove their claim, they’re now requesting telephone records from the Governor’s office and the Department of Revenue.

Fine. Let them do so. But when they don’t find anything, can we all agree that they owe the Governor, Sam Kitzenberg, and the state of Montana a sincere apology? A reimbursement of taxpayer money to offset the requests for the records would help, too.

But don’t hold your breath, folks. The Republican Party doesn’t know how to apologize. The Republican Party doesn’t know how to stop themselves. First comes the requests for phone records, then will come calls for independent investigations, then will come lawyers and depositions and blah-blah-blah until someone has to face perjury charges they’ll be acquitted of, and the taxpayer will be stuck with an enormous bill for a bald, partisan witch hunt that ends up with…nothing.

Instead of all this, I’d suggest the Montana GOP get busy reworking its ideology, its representatives, and its tactics. You’re bleeding voters, folks. Remember this used to be a “red” state, don’t you? You lost the Governorship, the legislature, and both Senate seats. And it’s not because of some shady back-room deal the Good Guv arranged.

Here’s my advice: take a hard, long look in the mirror.


  1. You’re wrong on this issue.

    I don’t know if there was a ‘deal’ involved here, but it looks bad.

    Look at what we know:

    Kitzenberg retired, and spent his retirement money getting out of a bad investment. He ‘s a GOP representative, but he’s given an unadvertised job working for the Dept. of Revenue, for $43k a year.

    Governor Schweitzer loses control of the legislature, and suddenly Kitzenberg decides to switch parties, and give his boss control of the Senate.

    For the party of new-found ethics, the Democrats have no problem accepting this ‘payoff’ do they?

  2. “A reimbursement of taxpayer money to offset the request for the records would help, too.”
    Access to the records of public officials is a right under the Montana Constution. They shouldn’t have to pay, you big partisan hack you. In fact, I think the best way to ensure they don’t use what’s disclosed in untoward ways is for you to ask for a copy of whatever they asked for.

  3. Ed Kemmick

    Eric: I’m glad to see that you can be logical and use some reasoning … at least when alleged improprieties on the part of our governor are involved. When the subject was Conrad Burns, the war in Iraq, the use of torture, et al., your thoughts were so logic-free and light that they nearly floated away.

    And Touchstone: Here’s a good illustration of what we reporters don’t do (in light of your remarks earlier this week). We would never, as you have here, make, much less state, an assumption so sweeping—that the Republican “witch hunt” will turn up nothing. Because you “know” such things in advance you will not go looking, which is something we still have to do because we believe nothing is known until it can be proven, or at least strongly supported. Let me turn your formula around and ask whether you intend to apologize to the Republicans if their request for public records turns up evidence of improprieties. Stranger things have happened.

  4. Coobs: You left out salient facts from your analysis. For example, Kitzenberg has always been a moderate, and many GOPers backed his opponent during his last primary. Also, the MT GOP has drifted steadily away from the middle. There’s plenty of reason to believe Kitzenberg made the decision based on ideological and political beliefs.

    Readbetween: Yes, I know it’s our constitutional right to request records. All I’m saying is, it’d be nice if they’d pay us back, not that they have to…

    Ed: I’m not a reporter. I’m a partisan hack. If evidence of impropriety pops up, yes, I will call for more investigation. ‘Tho I would need more than a telephone record that says Schweitzer called Kitzenberg.

    Ethics actually mean something to me.

  5. PS, Ed: This post was probably an example of what John Adams meant when he said, “And he’s not immune from the strident political directives that infect much blogger prose…”

  6. Larry Kralj, Environmental Rangers!

    Hey, everybody needs a hobby! Booby Keenan of Big Dork is ALWAYS requesting phone records. That’s what he does when he’s not keeping his personal log of everything Brian Schweitzer does! That’s the Rethuglican hobby! I think it’s all kinda sad really. Sad and pathetic. Instead of a platform, instead of a policy statement, instead of any new ideas, THEY’VE GOT PHONE LOGS! Oh, and of course the notebooks of Booby Keenan! Is that really any way to run a party???

  7. Larry Kralj, Environmental Rangers!

    p.s. And ONLY the Montana Rethuglies are STOOPID enough to bash a gov with a SEVENTY PERCENT approval rating! I mean, what ARE they thinking?!! Don’t they know that Schweitzer is only a WHOLE LOT smarter and politcal savvy than their entire party combined?!

  8. Sorry Larry – I think the Governors popularity has been hyped up, and hyped up a lot.

    With the exception of Jon Tester, most candidates he campaigned for lost.

  9. If Governor Schweitzer wanted to show his ethics, he would have said “Thanks, but no thanks.”

    I’d also like to know if there was a phone call telling Kitzenberg that if he wants to keep the job he’ll switch parties for the Governor.

  10. If Governor Schweitzer wanted to show his ethics, he would have said “Thanks, but no thanks.”

    To what?

  11. To Kitzenberg switching parties, to give the control of the Senate to Governor Schweitzer.

  12. Uh…that wasn’t the governor’s call. That’s up to Kitzenberg.

  13. And remember: the governor is the executive. It’s not “his” legislature.

  14. I’d also like to know if there was a phone call telling Kitzenberg that if he wants to keep the job he’ll switch parties for the Governor.

    Hmmmm. Yeah, that seems like it would be in the phone records of the executive office. Maybe he’d even call Kitzenberg at the office just to make sure.

    Even better, do the Montana State Police use horses? Cause Schweitzer could just have had a couple on-duty troopers behead one and deliver the severed head to the cot Kitzenberg sleeps on at the office while collecting a paycheck for doing nothing but switching parties.

    Ahhh. Thanks for the laugh, you old paranoid hack you.

  15. This would be nothing were it not for that 43K job. I think the Republicans are right to follow through on their hunches. It smells bad.

  16. This would, in fact, be nothing if it weren’t for the job. And the job thing did not smell fresh even when it happened back in August.
    That said, in a place that is not overflowing with economic opportunity, people often get jobs by virtue of the personal connections they have. (I got one courtesy of a poker game.) Note that I’m not saying that Kitzenberg got hired solely because he worked in government, but being an elected official is sort of like being interviewed and rehired pretty regularly by thousands of people. Furthermore, I’ve read the job description and it seems like any reasonably bright person with a fair amount of real world experience could do Kitzenberg’s job. Having a record as a respected legislator would seem like a positive if I were doing the hiring.
    More important, as someone who has watched the Republican Party waddle away from me in the ten years since I voted for Phil Gramm in the 1996 Presidential primary, it seems completely plausible that Kitzenberg could have switched based on the multiple other things that have alienated him from the Republicans.
    Also, would it be more ethical for Kitzenberg to empower leadership he had become convinced were going to lead the state astray? I don’t think so.
    But, by all means, let’s see what’s in the phone records and whatnot. If there was something there, I would hope that some enterprising journalist would have dug it up by now.

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