Archive for the ‘John Morrison’ Category

by jhwygirl

As the Helena Independent Republic put it, Montanans won a key court victory this week as the judge sided with term-limited state Auditor John Morrison’s directive that disallowed the use of discretionary clauses in health and disability policies.

Discretionary clauses allow the insurer to deny claims merely by proving a physician or other medical expert to deny the claim, by stating that the denial is reasonable.

He who has the most money wins.

Jim Hunt, Democratic primary challenger to John Driscoll in the democrats failed race for Dennis Rehberg’s House of Representative seat, argued the case for the state.

Five years ago, Morrison had decided to prohibit discretionary clauses in health policies. All insurers but Standard Insurance Co. of Portland Oregon decided to comply.

While the clause now still exists in may policies that have not been reissued, Judge Honzel’s ruling effectively removes the applicability of any discretionary clause still in place.

Good Stuff for Montana.

by jhwygirl

State Republican Chairman Erik Iverson paints an absolutely rosy picture of the state’s Republican chances to grab up – at least – 3 of the 5 seats which comprise the State Land Board.

Iverson said he believes Montana Republicans have an excellent chance to control the Montana Land Board for the first time since 1992. That would mean winning three out of these five races: governor, attorney general, auditor, superintendent of public instruction and secretary of state.

Iverson seems to paint his hopes on State Auditor, Attorney General and Secretary of State. The Republicans currently have no challenger for School Superintendent.

Both the State Auditor and the Attorney General seats are being vacated by term-limited Mike McGrath and John Morrison.

There are two challengers for State Auditor – Rep. Monica Lindeen (D – Huntley) and former Sen. Duane Grimes (R- Clancy). Clancy lost to Morrison in 2004. Lindeen ran against Rehberg in 2006, in a race where the state’s Democratic party were almost wholly focused on unseating Conrad Burns. Iverson is banking on Grimes, saying “He’s run before and knows what it takes.”

There are 3 Democrats and 2 Republicans running for Morrison’s seat. Money is the winner in this race according to Iverson:

Iverson said whoever emerges from the Democratic primary will be “a great competitor and probably will be a little beaten up and not have much money. The Republican primary winner probably will have more money and be more politically stable than the Democratic candidate,” he said.

It is a sad reality when all a candidate or party chair can rest on is $.

But do tell, Erik Iverson – what is it, exactly, that the State Land Board has been failing at doing? What agenda is it that the MT GOP has for the state’s lands? Is big industry whining? Do they miss their “lap dogs”?

Follow the money, I guess, and maybe we’ll find out.

by Jamee Greer

How does one mistake a Blackberry for a handgun? I think this says something very shocking regarding the culture of fear we live in today.

The dark-haired man armed with a Blackberry – which was mistaken for a handgun in Thursday’s Carroll College incident – was none other than Montana Auditor John Morrison.

At least 16 law enforcement officers from various agencies responded to the report of a man in dark clothing slipping what looked like a handgun into his pocket while walking into the student union building at about 1:35 p.m. Thursday.

Or maybe John Morrison needs to buy a newer Blackberry. New ones are so sleek! And their screens so bright and clear, they’re guaranteed to never be mistaken as a handgun – or your money back!

As a student who attended high school in the anxiety prone post-Columbine nineties, and a university student today post VirginaTech, I know school violence is something to be taken very seriously.

At the same time, I can’t believe we’ve gotten to the point where our fears have become this irrational.

Hotline’s Montana preview of today’s election is interesting on a couple of notes.

First, on negativity:

What makes the closeness of this primary so striking is the lack of negativity we’ve seen in the paid media from both Dem campaigns. Sure, there are subtle jabs each is taking at the other’s expense, but it’s no where near as nasty as, say, the IA GOV Dem primary or the Dem contest in CA GOV. The negativity has been aimed solely at GOP incumbent Conrad Burns and it appears both Dem campaigns decided not to dilute that message. That has to make the folks at the DSCC smile because they want this campaign to be all about Burns.

It’s true that Morrison and Tester weren’t overtly hostile to one another. However, let the blogosphere show that there heated passions – mainly levied against Morrison.

Another “observation”:

What makes the closeness of this primary so striking is the lack of negativity we’ve seen in the paid media from both Dem campaigns. Sure, there are subtle jabs each is taking at the other’s expense, but it’s no where near as nasty as, say, the IA GOV Dem primary or the Dem contest in CA GOV. The negativity has been aimed solely at GOP incumbent Conrad Burns and it appears both Dem campaigns decided not to dilute that message. That has to make the folks at the DSCC smile because they want this campaign to be all about Burns.

It’s like the Morrison scandal didn’t even happen. What is obvious is that the author, Chuck Todd, does not really have his ear tuned to state politics, where rumors abound. Let us just say that it seems the Tacke affair isn’t the only reason trial lawyers and auditor staffers are flocking to Tester.

Now for some questions:

Does a Tester victory mark the first true netroots-created win? We know there are other races where the Democratic netroots played a major factor, but a Tester victory would give even more legitimacy to the lefty blogosphere’s political power.

Let’s save this one for tomorrow, after the results are in.


How much control will Washington try and exert over Tester if he’s the nominee? The DSCC is probably a bit more satisfied with the team around Morrison, then again the roll-out (or whatever one wants to call it) of Morrison’s personal issues (namely the admitted affair) wasn’t smooth. But are things like that ever rolled out smoothly? What will Schweitzer’s role in this race be? He doesn’t let too many nat’l reporters leave the state without offering up something on-the-record.

“Control”? “Exert”? “Over Tester”? Makes you glad to support Tester, doesn’t it? Basically this guy is saying Morrison is a tool. I’m not a big fan of my legislative representatives being under the control of DC insiders. Another reason to vote for Tester.

Again, Todd’s comments on Morrison’s affair misses the point entirely: it’s not that the “roll out” was rough, it was that the “roll out” was more like a “cover up.” They pretty much let anyone write these things. Trust me. I know.

And Schweitzer’s role? If Tester wins this race, expect Schweitzer to do some serious stumping. If Morrison wins…well…who knows?

In any case, I’m looking forward to the results of this race. There’ll be lots of speculation, rumor-mongering, and wild plans made for the future. A veritable blogger’s buffet!

It’s late — almost midnight — we got back earlier today from a camping trip, which went remarkably well considering it involved two two-year-olds, but I saw this article about INSA in the Gazette, and…well…part of being a “successful” blogger, or at least prolific, is that it’s like a frickin’ disease and you feel compelled to post.

The FBI has gotten involved now, too.

Ostensibly, from the article’s input, the agency is looking into former UM official, Wayne Chesnut, and his activities in Texas subsequent to his helping set up INSA as a spin-off of the university.

There is no mention of Conrad Burns, who appropriated the funds for INSA, or former Burns’ staffer, Leo Giacometto, who was INSA’s lobbyist at the time. And maybe still, depending on whether Giacometto and the INSAites are lying sacks of sh*t or not. (You can probably guess where I fall on this matter.)

And then there’s Robert Brigham’s take on the scandal and how it should affect your vote in the Democratic primary. In the post he recalls when Max Baucus was criticized for taking money from Giacometto; apparently Morrison tacitly approved the "contribution" (bribe?):

Back then, I saw this as little more than a signal to Giacometto's K Street lobbyist buddies that Morrison wouldn't rock the boat. Given his infamous history in Montana Republican Party scandals, I saw Giacometto as potential political contrast while Morrison saw an opportunity to raise money. In my mind, this was a focus on the container instead of the content as Morrison wanted cash to run ads and was willing to sacrifice the message appearing in those ads.

Brigham sees in this Morrison’s willingness to take corporate cash and corporate marching orders from corrupt machine bosses. It makes some sense. How else would Morrison be able to raise so much money with neither support from the state Democrats and lawmakers and the state’s Democratic base?

It isn’t Morrison who received the overwhelming number of state lawmaker endorsements; that’s Tester. It isn’t Morrison who received the most in-state campaign contributions; that’s Tester. And it certainly isn’t Morrison who’s received the most “small contributions,” individual campaign donations under $100; again, that’s Tester.

Ask yourself, why is Morrison still in this race? Why hasn’t he withdrawn? The Tacke ethics and sex scandal immediately leveled the corruption edge he previously owned over Burns, even if it’s not on the level of the Abramoff mess or INSA. It’s not the amount of corruption that matters. If Morrison really wanted health care reform he’d have dropped out of the race, because he doesn’t have a prayer of beating Burns, not with the ethics issue thrown out the window.

And who knows? If what Brigham’s suppositions are true — at this point, I heartily admit, they are wild speculation — Morrison may have already dipped his nose into the Giacometti trough. Don’t you think if it’s true the Burns campaign knows about it? And is sitting on the information?

And to be honest, I don’t like that Burns has been too quiet about the Tacke affair. It stinks. With the Senator’s approval rating hovering in the thirties, with a majority of Montanans wanting a change, the Burns’ staff has to be crazy not to hammer away at the Democrats’ — i.e., Morrison’s — ethical entanglements.

If I have these doubts — a self-avowed liberal — what’s an independent thinking?

As Matt Singer pointed out, Jon Tester has surged ahead of Conrad Burns in a recent poll, either 48-46% or 48-42%. Either way, that’s excellent news. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: I believe – in light of the Morrison ethics scandal – Tester is the more electable Democrat candidate.

If that weren’t news enough, the poll – paid for by Bob Keenan – had more interesting tidbits for digesting. Guess what it concluded? Burns’ ain’t electable. Period

"By any measure, Conrad Burns is in deep trouble in his efforts to win re-election," said Whit Ayres, president of the Alexandria, Va., polling company Ayres McHenry & Associates Inc., said in a memo Monday.

Only 29 percent of Montana voters believe Burns deserves to be re-elected, with 60 percent thinking it's time to give someone else a chance and 11 percent undecided, the poll found. Thirty-two percent of Republicans and 66 percent of independents favored giving someone else a shot at the job.

More numbers: In an informed ballot matchup, Morrson beats out Burns, 50-37%, whereas Keenan beats Morrison, 45-43%. No Tester – Keenan poll was done.

Yes, the best thing that could happen to Montana is a Conrad Burns victory in the Republican primary. And that pretty much seems a lock with Burns leading in polls 62-15%. You think Keenan bridges a 50-point gap by June 6?

Me neither.

Thank you, Conrad Burns.

Much has already been made in the Montana blogosphere over the John Adams story in the Missoula Independent over unaswered questions in Morrison's handling of his office's investigation of a husband of a former mistress for security violations.

The basic gist of the article is this: Morrison's office was extraordinarily lenient on David Tacke considering his violations and later convictions by federal authorities. Also, Morrison was more involved in the case than his recent statements on the matter would lead us to believe.

The question is, did Morrison's personal entanglements in the case affect his investigation? Adams seems to think so.

Before I rush to judgement I'd like to know if this investigation differed from the others in its prosecutorial zeal (or lack thereof). I'd also want Morrison and his staff directly address the question raised by the article.

But the bottom line is this — and I'm essentially agreeing with Alex Rosenleaf — Morrison needs to come clean NOW, or he needs to drop out of the race. This Senate race is too important. If Conrad Burns retains his seat that means effectively an end to the Democrats' chance to win the Senate, which means continued corruption, brainless support of the Bush administration, and general worsening of America's security, health, sanity, economy, and civil liberties.

We can't afford a Morrison win in the primaries, and then a Morrison loss in the general election because the issues surrounding his professional ethics bloom suddenly in mid-October.

So I was perusing the local papers when I came across this passage from a Great Falls Tribune article on a Conrad Burns stump speech:

"All of us have different assets in our possession," he said. "Here's mine." He put his arm around his wife, Phyllis, reminding his audience that they'd been together "just a freckle under 40 years."

The gesture comes a few days after state Auditor John Morrison, generally considered the front-runner in the Democratic Senate primary, acknowledged he'd had an extramarital affair with a woman whose fiancé was later investigated by his office.

Burns refused to comment on Morrison's issues Monday, saying, "I don't know anything about that."

(I’m sure Burns’ staff is grateful that the Tribune clarified its message for the public, letting the reporter do its dirty work for them while remaining above the fray. Personally I’d consider this passage too heavy-handed even for my blog, but I’m no journalist. I’m just a partisan blogger. Anyhow, on with the post…)

What irks me about this is how Burns uses his wife, Phyllis, for political gain. You hear it in almost every commercial he runs: “Phyllis and I…” “me and Phyllis…” The implication is that Phyllis is by his side, the faithful wife of forty-plus years, the benevolent grandmother, the stabilizing influence for the “rascal” Conrad. In other words, she’s a prop.

It’s a convention in contemporary politics to trot out your spouse and kids on stage. And I admit I get a little twinge when I see a picture of Tester duck hunting with his son. The images affirm that the candidate is a family guy, a guy just like you and me.

Still, if Burns keeps parading his wife onstage and in commercials as his “best asset,” and including her as part of the package we get with him as Senator, won’t she come under scrutiny for his actions? If Burns says “Phyllis and I have served you” in a political commercial, don’t we get the right to ask Mrs. Burns what she thinks of her husband’s connections to Abramoff? Was she aware of them? Does she condone him trading votes for campaign contributions?

Cathy Morrison’s appearance with her husband for a press conference addressing his marital infidelity and subsequent compromising position in his office’s prosecution of his former mistress’ fiancée was absolutely required to salvage Morrison’s chance at the Senate seat, but it was no less painful to watch for that fact. And make no mistake: it was a cold political decision to put her at the podium and have her make a statement. How humiliating that must have been for her. I imagine it was a grim day in the Morrison household.

(The press conference had to remind people of the Barbara Walters’ interview with the Clintons, but in that case we understood Hilary’s motivation. She wasn’t just the president’s wife, she was the g*dd*mned First Lady. And she received her reward for sticking with Bill: a Senate seat. Not a bad deal if you’re the ambitious type.)

I’m not sure I have a solution for politicians exploiting their families. It’s part of the package. And not always a bad part. But if you use your spouse, expect folks to start talking to her and about her. If you make her part of your campaign, then she’ll become part of whatever story is framed around you.

Ed Kemmick has a nice restrained "objective" post up about "l'affaire Morrison." I like it.

I haven’t said anything yet about l’affaire Morrison because I can’t really see what it all adds up to. It seems to have been one of those stories that percolated in political circles for so long that it had to be written eventually, but is the kind of story that is hard to summarize in a sentence or two.

Yup. And it's true that voters will probably remember only the maritial affair, and they'll judge Morrison's character because of a two-month fling he had eight years ago.

Over at Left in the West, Matt takes a crack at the scandal. See more here. Pogie has a wish I share, but doubt will come true:

I hope that this doesn’t become the focus of campaign coverage in the days and weeks ahead. It seems like scandal sells newspapers, and I worry that a campaign that should be about issues important to Montanans will become focused on decade-old family issues.

Already the freepers at What's Right in Montana are all over the news with the enthusiam of a caged man given a club:

It's a bad day for Montana Democrats. This morning, the news story in the Billings Gazette detailed Morrisons extra-marital affair, with the fiance [sic] of a man under investigation.

For a party trying (unsuccessfully) to take a stand on ethics this is a real punch-in-the-stomach, isn't it?

Of course, this was posted by Eric Coobs, actual human being. The borgs working out of Conrad Burns office (BigSky2006, e.g.) haven't said "boo." I imagine they're huddled with spokes-creep Jason Kindt trying to figure how to frame the issue. When they do post on Morrision, I'll bring it to you, ASAP, so we'll know how Burns is planning on running with this information.

But let's face it, on the surface, with the information we have now, this little dalliance of Morrison's doesn't come close to the indiscretions over in Conrad Burns' office.

First, it would appear that Morrison handled the situation professionally. He recused himself from the case, and refused to let his association with Suzanne Harding influence the proceedings against her fiancee, David Tacke. He's in jail where he should be. It would appear that the worst you can say about Morrision — barring further damaging information — is that he was a lousy husband, but he didn't let it affect the performance of his duties.

On the other hand, Conrad Burns repeadetly and maliciously abused the privileges of his office for monetary gain. He changed his votes on at least two bills I know of after donations from Abramoff clients. This is illegal. And it's bad government. In other words, not only is Burns probably a felon, he's incompetent to boot.

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