It is becoming increasingly apparent that a left-leaning caucus of pseudo-Republicans in the Montana legislature is the product of successful connivance to install progressives in more than several dozen districts throughout the Big Sky State. Running as Republicans, the so-called “Conservative Solutions Caucus” (the adjective conservative was just added to their ever-growing list of name-changes), this group of candidates and legislators would – in any other state – fit in well within the Democratic Party.
This group is led by Llew Jones (R-Conrad) and was formed in partnership with Democratic governor, Brian Schweitzer in 2007. In a devil’s bargain between Llew Jones, who was then the sophomore representative in Conrad, and Governor Schweitzer’s staff, the motley crew crafted a partnership that would endure until this day. Meeting in a log cabin retreat in their first meeting, the group began to call themselves the “Log Cabin Republicans,” which drew snickers as the name was already taken to denote an organization consisting of homosexual Republicans.
Since 2007, the name of this caucus has changed as more and more Democrat candidates began to run on the Republican ticket. They have been aggressive in finding candidates who affirm recklessly irresponsible budgets including Nancy Ballance, Joel Krautter, Bruce Grubbs, Julie Dooling, David Bedey, Tom Richmond and more. Going through several name-changes, including Responsible Republicans, the group has been successful in siding with Democrats and passing bill after bill to place upon the Governor’s desk at his request.
This roster of progressive Republicans all have one thing in common; they seem to have mastered the skill of convincing voters at home they are faithful Republicans while voting with Democrats on important and critical legislation, serving up to Governor Schweitzer and now Governor Bullock their wish-list of legislative accomplishments.
However, Jones’ contingent of leftist legislators has a glaring problem and a certain roadblock in front of them. Legistats, the automated computer ranking system that scores partisan votes and issues scorecards on party loyalty seems to be their Achille’s heel. Run by Ed Butcher, a former legislator, the ingenious system filters out non-partisan votes which primarily consist of non-controversial legislation voted for overwhelmingly by both parties. Butcher’s Legistats only scores votes on bills that are heavily divided between the left and right.
Ordinarily, the Solutions Caucus can come home to their districts and laud to their constituents an inflated percentage of votes in line with the party. But because Butcher is tirelessly placing the scoring system in the hands of voters, they are increasingly wise to the scam perpetrated by Jones’ Manchurian candidates.
Because the Solutions Caucus has to masquerade as conservatives in their home district, it has made them resort to anonymous attacks from a ramshackle blog entitled the Extremist Chronicles. Put together by Solutions Caucus acolytes, the blog attacks conservative Republicans with as much fervor as leftist political blogs like the Montana Post. And in fact, it has been rumored that the anonymous attack blog is authored by the very same former Helena debate coach and leftist political pundit, Don Pogreba, who also writes for the Montana Post.
With scathing headlines, mocking photoshops, and raging liberalism on full-display, the Extremist Chronicles not-so-subtly paints Republicans who abide by the party platform as “extremists,” “radicals,” and “bigots.” Their articles could just as easily be like something found on a fringe left-wing website, but the fingerprints of the Solutions Caucus are all over it.
It would be strange indeed for Montana’s wayward leftist Republicans to use the contributions of a progressive Democrat pundit to attack conservative Republicans. But regardless of who is behind the authorship of Extremist Chronicles, it seems to be fancied nonetheless by members of the Solutions Caucus who regularly cite its articles lambasting conservatism, often curiously within minutes of publication.
Consider, just as an example, Roger Hagan. Hagan is a former Montana legislator and renowned progressive Republican, defeated by Randy Pinnoci in 2014. He is also a campaign donor to Joel Krautter (R-Sidney), an up-and-coming Solutions Caucus member. Hagan posts material from the Extremist Chronicles attacking Montana’s conservatives (see below).
Meanwhile, Hagan has posted not one, but four posts from the new “Conservative” Solutions Caucus just today.
The Extremist Chronicles and the “Conservative” Solutions Caucus seem inexorably tied by heavy cross-pollination between the two groups, with comments and post-shares heavily tied. Llew Jones himself has shared the Extremist Chronicles posts, although he stops short of taking credit for their creation (see below).
But how is the left-wing attack site being promoted in social media, with Solutions Caucus members taking a wide-berth from their blog-child?
Shockingly, the attack-site is being pay-bumped on Facebook by a former Solutions Caucus member and disgraced Hellenian, now relocated to Florida.
Jesse O’Hara, who now resides on Snowy Plover Drive in Lakeland, Florida, is providing targeted ads for the Extremist Chronicles to Montana zip codes. From this waterside home (above) with palm trees casting shade upon the backyard, O’Hara is now reaching into Montana in a peculiar fashion. It’s certainly a long way from Montana. Nonetheless, O’Hara is behind the social media ads attacking conservatives (see below).
So who is Jesse O’Hara? O’Hara (pictured at the top of the article) was an early compatriot in the Log Cabin Republicans and cohort of Llew Jones. During the 2009 legislative session, O’Hara received an F-score from Legistats in party loyalty, ranking dead-last out of 50 legislators. He crossed over to vote with Democrats 269 times, only siding with Republicans 200 times that session. In short, O’Hara is more Democrat than Republican.
O’Hara’s rhetoric and public positions are hostile to gun rights and is reportedly one of the most anti-gun Republicans ever to serve in the Montana House. In 2012 he attacked then-opponent Randy Pinocci from the left on gun-rights, sending a graphics-laden mailer with “blood splatters” alleging Pinocci’s stance on gun rights would put firearms in the wrong hands (see below). Notice that O’Hara was, even then, referring to conservatism as “extreme.”
That mailer was rebuffed by the Montana Shooting Sports Association in a firmly-worded letter, calling the mailer an “unfortunate hallmark of O’Hara’s desperate attempt to save his political bacon” (see below).
O’Hara was present with the Log Cabin Republicans and Llew Jones during the 2007 devil’s bargain, handing the Republican leftist swing-vote to the Democratic Party. Governor Schweitzer (Democrat) in a Billings Gazette article entitled Horse Sense: Legislature’s outcome leaves Republican party torn, published on May 20, 2007, is cited praising O’Hara as [his] kind of Republican.
Governor Schweitzer indeed put it best. O’Hara is a Democrat’s kind of Republican.
O’Hara and Llew Jones’ log cabin devil’s bargain with Democrats might have been forgotten by some, but one can still read about their truce with leftists in articles still available at the Billings Gazette.
However, O’Hara’s troubling past runs even deeper, especially in the era of the #MeToo Movement. There is a reason, most suggest, O’Hara fled to Florida.
Daniel Robbins, a former C.M. Russell High School student, pled guilty to one count of attempted deliberate homicide for running down a young woman while she was jogging and subsequently sentenced to 50 years in
prison. The young woman suffered six fractured vertebrae, a fractured pelvis, a collapsed lung, three broken ribs.
As tragic as the story is, it turns darker.
Reports indicate that Robbins attempt to drive over the young woman in a plan to have sex with her corpse. Even worse, Robbins had made a New Years Resolution list, apparently discovered by his mother, that included his desire to kill the young woman and desecrate her corpse. The offender and his mother went to O’Hara for counseling at the school (where he was employed) and explained his desires. Instead of telling authorities of Robbins’ intentions or recommending psychiatric counseling, O’Hara swept the matter under the rug and told no one. The young woman’s family then sued the school for O’Hara’s neglect to protect her, and he retired from the district. It is rumored that the school district paid millions in a settlement.
With additional accounts of O’Hara serving in the legislature in his last term while not permanently residing in Montana (his wife was already in Florida with a home, while O’Hara traveled to Montana only for the session and related business), he is a dark and shadowy figure to now be reaching out to Montana while advertising an attack-site against conservative Republicans, with whom he apparently has a grudge.
There is little doubt that O’Hara is still closely associated with Llew Jones and his former Solutions Caucus, and is being used to place distance between themselves and the Extremist Chronicles attack-site.
Montanans need to understand that the Democratic Party fills far more seats in the Montana Legislature than what most suspect. The fact is, many Democrats are running in and winning Republican primaries. Voters should be on guard and look closely at every candidate’s voting record and party loyalty score to determine if they are Republicans or if they are Republicans in name only.