I know I’ve been out for a couple of weeks, so I start this week’s political trough with an older story. Why? Well, apparently because the dark money obsessed Montana media has staged some sort of blackout on this story.
From The Free Beacon: A Hilltop Too Far
One of the left’s most prominent campaign finance reform advocates has been accused of illegally coordinating with a host of liberal groups in the run up to winning a gubernatorial election last year.
Democratic Montana Gov. Steve Bullock has led the fight to undermine the Supreme Court’s 2010 ruling in Citizens United vs. FEC, which struck down efforts to regulate the political speech of nonprofit groups, corporations, and labor unions.
According to a complaint filed March 13 with Montana’s Commissioner of Political Practices, Bullock’s gubernatorial campaign illegally coordinated with a host of independent expenditure groups through the shadowy Democratic consultancy Hilltop Public Solutions.
In absence of more pipelines, spills by rail are on the rise. From Politico’s Morning Energy
TRAIN SPILLS CANADIAN CRUDE IN MINNESOTA: A train moving oil from Canada through the U.S. derailed yesterday in Minnesota, spilling 30,000 gallons of crude. Reuters: “The major spill, the first since the start of a boom in North American crude-by-rail transport three years ago, came when 14 cars on a 94-car Canadian Pacific train left the tracks about 150 miles northwest of Minneapolis near the town of Parkers Prairie, the Otter Tail Sheriff’s Department said. … [Canadian Pacific Railway] spokesman Ed Greenberg said he did not know if the crude was from Canada’s tar sands or from conventional oil fields.” Reuters: http://reut.rs/WXcvf5
From 2010 to 2012, 112 oil spills were reported from U.S. rail tanker cars, up from just 10 in the previous three years, according to the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, a part of the Department of Transportation that tracks most releases of hazardous materials. But the amount of crude leaked in spills has declined since 2008, when a big accident in Oklahoma released more than 1,900 barrels.
The railroad industry says the amount of oil spilled is tiny compared to the volume of oil transported by the U.S. rail system, which has surged from 9,500 carloads in 2008, the year widely seen as the beginning of the current oil boom, to 233,811 carloads in 2012, according to the Association of American Railroads.
Just being really, really nice guys? From The Western Word:
The Montana Commissioner of Political Practices, James W. Murry, ruled on the Loney versus Moore, Blewett, Jacobson, and Boland complaint yesterday.
One part of the complaint was about a state senator (Blewett) who was not on the ballot and wore a nametag, and a candidate (Jacobson) who was on the ballot and who did not wear a nametag passing out chips, candy, and water to people who were waiting in line to vote at the Expo Park in Great Falls (MT). The commissioner’s report stated there was no evidence they talked to people about voting or who to vote for or even campaigned.
Basically they were just being really nice guys.
Click here to read more.
The Washington Times noted:
The ad does not specify if the man is an actor, but the text accompanying it says he is a “gun owner.” Either way, the man violates all three gun safety rules taught by the National Rifle Association (NRA).
Breitbart: Jason Mattera Q’s Jim Messina
On February 20, 2013, Mattera caught up with Messina in Washington, D.C. “Do you think it’s unbecoming of the president to be constantly attacking Fox News and Rush Limbaugh?” Mattera asks. “I don’t think that’s what he’s doing,” says Messina, as a staffer tries to usher him away from Mattera.
The fun video highlights a more important point, however. Obama’s bullying focus on members of the media who do not parrot his administration’s talking points has created a climate of intimidation in media. Modus operandi at the White House has become cutting off all adverse media at the knees, ensuring that they do not gain access to the White House, and whipping up public pressure to silence those outlets.
PERC: Risky Business in Indian Country which covers a business deal gone bad at The Grand Canyon:
The sore effects of this decision go far beyond the $28.6 million judgment against the tribe. Louise Benson, chairwoman of the tribe when the Skywalk contract was signed, said current tribal leaders are “giving the Hualapai a terrible reputation that will injure the tribe for years.” She added, “All over Indian country, I think this is bad.”
Such actions shake the confidence of investors and lenders who could help Native Americans climb out of the poverty trap. As Nancy Vermeulen, a banker in Billings, Mont., who would like to do more business on reservations told Forbes, “We take on such a huge extra risk with someone from the reservation. If I knew contracts would be enforced, then I could do a lot more business there.”
Meanwhile, as Native Americans in Montana look to capitalize off their coal here in Montana, astroturf groups in Seattle are trying to shut them down.
The Sky Valley Chronicle had this last week:
On Thursday Idle No More Seattle, in response to a national call to action from the International Idle No More, local tribes and white activists are teaming up in a battle against the coal industry that takes center stage in downtown Seattle.
From Chuck Denowh: Former U.S. Senator Blanche Lincoln (D, AR) has published an oped in Politico on the issue of export growth and Pacific Coast port expansion. It’s a good read; here’s a snippet:
Specifically, entrenched political interests have lobbied the Army Corps of Engineers as they initiate the process to issue permits for the modification and expansion of five port terminals in the Pacific Northwest. This expansion, supported by private investment, would allow for the increased export of bulk commodities like coal, agricultural products and other materials. If allowed to move forward, such expansion would lead to more jobs and tax revenue for the entire region — and the nation. But it, and countless other infrastructure projects, could be permanently stalled by an onerous review that would attempt to analyze the cumulative regional environmental impact of these facilities and for every use of everything that is shipped from them: a virtually impossible task that, if followed to its logical end, could result in findings conceivably so inaccurate that they would be utterly useless. This effect, on top of possible reductions in resources to agencies, could produce a real roadblock at a time when we need all hands on deck to help us grow our economy.
Read the full opinion, Regulatory microscope threatens export growth, at Politico.com.
Flathead Beacon: Washington, Oregon Governos Question Coal Exports
The governors of Washington and Oregon are urging the White House to evaluate the effects of greenhouse gasses that would be emitted elsewhere if the nation’s coal is exported.
In a joint letter sent Monday to the President’s Council on Environmental Quality, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee and Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber called on the federal government to examine the consequences on global air quality if five coal export terminals proposed in Washington and Oregon ship up to 140 million tons of coal a year from Montana and Wyoming’s Powder River basin to hungry markets in Asia.
Flathead Beacon: Daines Honors Kalispell Family, Fallen Soldier
To honor the 49th anniversary of his father’s death in the Vietnam War, “D” Shannon wanted to place a letter at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington D.C. Unable to travel there himself, Shannon began making calls but discovered how difficult it can be to navigate the many layers of bureaucracy.
So, on a whim, the Kalispell resident called Republican Congressman Steve Daines’ office.
As part of the ceremony, Daines followed up on his promise and placed the younger Shannon’s letter, along with a flag, in front of the memorial bearing Kenneth’s name. And on that very same day, an even younger Shannon – D’s son and Kenneth’s grandson – officially began his service with the U.S. Marine Corps.
Havre Daily News’ Tim Leeds: “Sequestration on the Hi-Line”
Ron Gleason, administrator of Northern Montana Care Center, said the sequestration will create 2 percent cuts in Medicare that go into effect April 1. That will affect the care center, Northern Montana Hospital, Northern’s clinic, anything that accepts Medicare payments, he said.
That is on top of freezes to Medicaid, loss of revenue due to requirements of the Affordable Care Act, cuts to avoid the “fiscal cliff” that took place in December, and other issues, Gleason said.