Needin’ a Fresh Coat of Paint: Morton Quits MBIA

by JC

Well, it seems that Ryan Morton decided after “the birds at 4&20 paint[ed] me as some frivolous, MBIA automaton,” that he needed to shake up his campaign for City Council from Ward 1. So he up and quit his job (hat tip to Keila over at Montana Red Tape!). Dang, just when I thought we had the perfect argument going about conflict of interest and all, what with him working at the MBIA and lobbying Council on their behalf.

Of course Ryan, an occasional commenter here (especially when we got into his professional lobbying business, or his campaign), had to throw a couple of bricks our way, as we challenged his dubious claim that working for MBIA and lobbying Council (which means he would have to lobby himself, which sounds oh, so yucky) somehow didn’t represent a conflict of interest.

So I guess that’s gone by the wayside. But, he reminded me in his comments at Red Tape that he is still working on the campaign for Kathy Greathouse, who is on the MBIA’s Board of Directors, and is running for City Council in Ward 6. Ah, so incestuous these MBIA people are. She also is (unless she’s looking for a new coat of paint too…) the chair of the MBIA Government Affairs Committee–which technically made her a boss of the org’s lobbyist–which used to be Ryan.

Oh, and by the way, there is a real nice new job opening in town, which gives a real succinct definition of a lobbyist!

· Develops and maintains effective lines of communication with local and state public officials on issues that impact the industry and association members.

· Coordinates, promotes and participates in meetings held with government leaders and political candidates to advance the objectives of the association.

· Attends and participates in government and community meetings and regularly updates the members regarding any issues affecting the industry.

· Obtains proposed legislation and regulations for submission to committee for analysis and recommendations. Obtains relevant information on state and national issues and distributes to the committee and membership.

· Establishes and maintains a grassroots network of members to assist on critical legislative and regulatory issues.

–a lobbyist that Kathy Greathouse oversees in her duties on the MBIA Board, and maybe still as the head of its Government Affairs Committee. And maybe as a City Councilor. All in the family!

  1. goof houlihan

    Thought I answered all the BS here for him. MBIA represents the small businesses that provide jobs of thousands of Missoulians, in retail, finance, media, trades, etc.

    It’s an organization that stands up for hard working, middle class americans.

    He should be proud to work there and I think he is.

    • JC

      I know all about BIA’s Goof, and have no problem with what they stand for, and their presence in our communities. I do have some issues with national policies being handed down to state and local associations, as I don’t think they are productive to individual workers–issues like the NAHB’s stance on healthcare reform, which is basically a watered-down republican plan.

      My main complaint has nothing to do with the organization or the individuals. It has to do with lobbyists running for the job they lobby, and in Ryan’s case–until now–was going to continue to lobby.

      The addition of Greathouse to the Council races doubled the issue where you had the lobbyist and his boss both running for two Council seats. I think there is a problem with that. Actually, it isn’t what I think. It’s what voters in this town think. And many that I have talked to had a problem with working lobbyists taking over City Council.

      Now that Ryan is moving on and can run for Council without the conflict of interest issue, he can put that behind him. Though the issue of a lobbyist quitting his job to run for the office he lobbied is still relevant to many voters I’ve talked to.

      I think if Ryan was being honest to voters, he’d admit that being a lobbyist running for Council wasn’t going over very well.

      And now that Ryan is no longer a lobbyist with MBIA, I’d like to ask him his stance on health care reform, and what does he thinks of the NAHB’s policies? After all, it is policies like NAHB’s that result in the huge problem we have with uninsured in Missoula.

      • Ryan Morton

        I’ve been advocating public option for a while. I would like the City’s self-insurance pool to expand into a public option. I’m currently underinsured and will be dropping my BCBS plan. I have a long history with health insurance screwing people (including myself) over. I’ve never hidden my feelings on that. in fact, in my press release you’ll find local public option as a platform for my campaign.

        As for why I left MBIA – I left because of frustration with hard work going ignored because of who i worked for. The latest charade was the BCC voting for new fire suppression regs and fees. Everyone including fire officials was willing to talk things out more, but Curtiss and Carey wanted none of it. It makes public involvement feel like a joke – not very fulfilling professionally.

      • Ryan Morton

        Michele Reinhart used to be a lobbyist. It’s not that unusual for a lobbyist to turn politician. It actually helps in the long run as the policy pusher tends to know the system and can get things accomplished.

        I’ve also spoken to many voters, and they don’t share your opinion about my former job and are excited I’m running. So, I don’t think there’s a single answer on the issue amongst the City of Missoula voters.

  2. Ryan Morton

    Oh the conspiracies run wild over here. If you’re not lock step with the 4&20 birds, everything is going to hell. So sad…

  3. Ryan Morton

    Oh, and I should get the hat tip… I notified Keila I was quitting. I guess I should have done a press release. Didn’t realize it was blog worthy. Now that I know that it is, how exciting that you all are so interested in my day to day life. If you’d like, you can find me on facebook and twitter (although I update facebook more often). If you’re adding me as a friend, leave me a note that you saw this on 4&20. Otherwise, I’ll probably not add you. Thanks!

  4. Tobie

    My God, at $15 buck an hour, Morton was definately not earning the living of a true lobbiest!!

    I’m curious JC. I understand that you don’t find it acceptable that he worked for a local special interest organization. How do you feel about current commissioners and council members sitting on the board of CFAC which is also a special interest?


    • Ryan Morton

      Yeah, since you only get about 3-5 minutes to speak at a public hearing, it really wasn’t the brunt of the job (even though that portion gets the brunt of the attention). I spent more time in dialogue with neighborhood leadership, business leaders, and MBIA members working out coalitions, wider public involvement, raising money for events and research projects, and fostering better overall communication in the community. Unfortunately, it was easier to work outside the public official arena than in it.

      In the end, it’s a non-profit organization and only relies on the dues of its members. $15 an hour was a big investment for the Association and I think it paid off overall (even if public policy really hasn’t shifted much… things move slowly). Thanks, 4&20, for advertising the position.

    • JC

      CFAC Board members that also serve the city/council aren’t paid lobbyists for the organization.

      Pretty simple, really.

  5. problembear

    we’ve had our moments ryan, but wishing you the best in your future endeavors. i am sure you did a fine job for mbia, which as goof says and i agree represents a lot of small businesses which i admire like Boyce Lumber, Vann’s and many others who do provide paychecks for many hard workers in this town.

    you should be proud of your work.

    i don’t often agree with the positions of mbia or the chamber. when i had my own business i did not support either one but many businesses i admire do so and that is their choice. like bobby on NYPD Blue used to say….”everything’s a situation”

    good luck.

  6. Jim Lang

    If you don’t care, then it sounds like no trouble at all.

  7. Chuck

    ….and sitting Councilman Bob Jaffe got another $400,000 check from the city for his buddies at the North Missoula Community Development Corp. I must have missed the photo op with Councilman Jaffe handing himself (Non Profit Founder and Board Member Jaffe) one of those giant fake checks for the 400k in taxpayer funds?

    • JC

      Um… it was a loan that will be repaid. You’ve been down this road already.

      As to Bob’s sitting on the Board of NMCDC and the City Council, there are some legitimate issues about the ethics of it. Bob abstained from the votes, and announced his conflict–though he admitted that he needs to be better at it.

      • goof houlihan

        “a loan that will be repaid”.

        A couple of reminders. Doesn’t matter whether it was a loan, it’s still a conflict and an ethics violation to even sit in on the discussion. Also, you may not know this, but getting a loan is tough these days, one of the reasons people are turning to govt for them.

        And, “loan that will be repaid” is, for me, redundant. I don’t think I’d lend you money. You might think it’s a “loan that doesn’t have to be repaid”.

        All loans are to be repaid, or they’re not loans. duh

        • JC

          I’m not defending Jaffe. But his case illustrates the degree to which a professional lobbyist would have with “conflict and an ethics violation” issues on the job that would greatly outweigh Bob’s.

          As to your quibble about semantics, maybe it would have better been stated “loan instead of a grant.”

          • goof houlihan

            No it doesn’t. The monetary issue makes it an automatic conflict, and yes, getting a loan is a monetary issue, whether it’s one of those “loans that have to be paid back” or one of those “true progressive” type loans that don’t.

            Unlike the connections Ryan has which are NOT monetary.

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