Marbut Featured in WSJ, Cleared in Complaint

Aaron Flint posted on July 15, 2011 22:58 :: 1156 Views

Montana Shooting Sports Association President Gary Marbut is gaining recognition in a string of recent regional and national news publications.  The latest comes from The Wall Street Journal, and profiles his efforts to defend Montana’s Firearm Freedoms Act- a direct challenge to the big government interpretation of the Constitution’s Commerce Clause.

Here’s an excerpt:

He might seem an unlikely candidate to lead a constitutional counterrevolution. Mr. Marbut, 65, lives alone outside Missoula, in a solar-powered geodesic dome he built from a kit, on the remnant of a cattle ranch his family once owned. He started college but didn’t finish. After Army service, he knocked around Alaska before coming home to devote himself to guns, his passion.

Though he lost a bid for the Montana Legislature, he became the state’s pre-eminent firearms advocate because of his singular focus. He organizes shooting matches to raise money for pro-gun politicians. He writes legislation for the lawmakers he helps elect. Montana lawmakers have enacted dozens of his bills, most of which relax gun regulations.

Following a strategy pioneered by Thurgood Marshall and the civil-rights movement, Mr. Marbut rounded up allies to file friend-of-the-court briefs. In addition to gun groups, conservative advocacy organizations such as the Goldwater Institute filed briefs backing the court challenge.

Plus, here’s a highlight from an email Marbut just sent out to his supporters:

You may remember that following the 2009 legislative session, Helena Mayor and lobbyist for the Montana Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association (MSPOA), Jim Smith, filed a complaint against me with the Montana Commissioner of Political Practices (CPP).  In that complaint, Smith alleged that I had violated Montana law by illegally lobbying the Legislature without having been registered as a lobbyist with the CPP.

I responded that I was merely exercising my First Amendment rights to speak to legislators and to you.  Montana law requires people to register as lobbyists if they are paid to influence the Legislature (as Smith is).  Since I am paid nothing, I told the CPP, everything I do in Helena is a protected exercise of free speech.

After two years + of investigating this complaint, the CPP has finally dismissed the complaint, saying that it cannot find that I did anything wrong or in violation of the lobbying laws.

Now, the question remains, what about Smith and his false complaint?  Has he broken any law about filing false complaints with a government agency?  Has he committed slander with the intent to damage my reputation?  Certainly, Smith’s complaint against me was widely reported in the media at the time, but the media has been dead silent on the CPP dismissal of the complaint.  Is it any wonder that I feel that Smith’s snit has damaged my reputation?  He certainly has done nothing to personally attempt to repair any damage he may have done, such as offer an up-front public apology.

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