Op-Ed: Republicans Voting to End PSC Are Short-Sighted and Self-Sabotaging

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Today, Republicans crossed over with their Democrat colleagues in the Senate in the Energy and Telecommunications Committee to support a bill that – if passed – will grow government bureacracy, disenfranchise Montana’s rate-payers, and hand over the Public Service Commission to whatever governor (Republican or Democrat) happens to be in office.

Imagine this scenario for a moment: A relatively tiny and the least expensive department in state government currently has five Republicans elected to oversee it (out of five). These Republicans, like Randy Pinocci and Jennifer Fielder – just to name a couple – are some of the most steadfast conservatives in Montana. Republicans enjoy total control over the PSC, placed into office by Montana’s voters.

Now imagine this scenario: Senator Kary (R-Billings), through SB160, intends to end the direct election of the Public Service Commission and fire all 6 Republicans. Instead, he desires that three commissioners be appointed by whoever happens to be the current governor of Montana. For the last 16 years, they were Democrats who are explicit and unrelenting enemies of the energy industry and – by extension – the rate-payer. If Kary is successful, men like Steve Bullock and Brian Schweitzer will control the PSC instead of Montana voters.

Whoever believes that Montana will enjoy a Republican governor until Kingdom Come has been smoking something that won’t technically be legal in Montana until this coming October.

In coming years, President Trump won’t be on the ticket, dragging the carcass of Republican candidates across the finish line as he did in 2020. Democrats, emboldened by Biden’s coup d’etat and empowered by Big Tech censorship, won’t be easy to beat. By then, Republicans won’t have a voice at all in either the mainstream media or social media, greatly inhibiting our odds at continued election success. Meanwhile, Greg Gianforte is becoming wildly unpopular with the state’s conservatives for various fumbles out of the gate, and projected Republican voter enthusiasm for the governor will be unbelievably low unless he immediately changes course. Changing demographics, whether a herd of Californians moving into Bozeman or kids brainwashed by liberals in the public school reaching voting age, make any upcoming statewide election an uphill battle.

In short, everything is currently against us for the next gubernatorial election. Greg Gianforte, even early into his term, is already the underdog against whomever will run against him.

Here’s my take: Any Republican who thinks that surrendering our unanimous control of the Public Service Commission is a good idea is a cotton-headed ninny-moggins who must be snorting lines in the capitol bathrooms.

What is wrong with you people? Seriously. You’re being awful.

I understand that the media hatred of certain PSC office holders is at a fever pitch. I understand that the Billings Gazette has issued some blistering Fake News articles confusing information requests with “spying” in an attempt to undermine this thoroughly Republican institution. I understand that nobody likes the soap opera that Roger Koopman created.

I also understand this…Republican legislators who think that any of the above justifies handing control of the department over to (potentially) Democrats are short-sighted surrender monkeys who are doing exactly what the Democrats want them to do. The term “useful idiots” only begins to describe Republicans who have fallen for this. “Abject morons” only takes it a step further in the direction our derision should go. “Petulant, self-sabotaging, sophomoric policy-fail clown-hats” probably doesn’t even go far enough.

This bill fell out of the stupid tree and hit every limb on the way down. This bill is to forethought what Alexandria Ocasio Cortez is to literacy. This bill is so bad for Republicans, not even Mitt Romney would vote for it. This bill is the Liz Cheney of policy attempts. It is vapid, insidious, hand-burning hot garbage. This bill is the fecal matter left behind after incompetence uses the restroom.

I suspect two things might be happening behind the scenes, which may help explain why Republicans would vote for a bill that drastically reduces representation and empowers (potentially) Democrat governors to stick it to the energy industry harder than COVID-19 hits the immune system.

First, it’s possible that Governor Gianforte is pushing the bill behind the scenes. As much as I like the governor, it is rumored that he likes to be in control, even if that might mean commandeering it. And by “rumored,” I mean, “literally everyone knows this.” God bless his soul, but the man doesn’t mind a little more power today than he had yesterday. I do not know if Gianforte is pushing this bill (to be fair) , and pray it is not so.

Secondly, it’s highly likely that Roger Koopman is pushing this bill as yet another way to treat the PSC like a jilted 7th-grade girl who was dumped at the Sadie Hawkins Day dance. Keep this in mind…Roger Koopman (who only went to work on a blue moon) bilked the PSC for hundreds of thousands of dollars, rarely showing up to do his job. His inability to get along with PSC employees has already cost the state – and by extension, the rate-payers he was tasked to protect – hundreds of thousands of dollars in settling lawsuits against him. Meanwhile, he is now suing three PSC employees knowing full-well that the state – and by extension, the rate-payers he was tasked to protect – would have to foot their legal defense. While I appreciate Koopman’s policy positions (especially his pro-life stance), his absolute betrayal of the rate-payer has been plainly insufferable.

Nonetheless, regardless of how this steaming pile of recycled nonsense-garbage passed committee, it will soon hit the fan and be spread across the legislature like fertilizer dumped from a cropduster. Any Republican, of any decent stripe, will surely oppose this bill. Republicans, after all, are the only people with something to lose in it, and absolutely nothing to gain.

Meanwhile, Montana is suffering power outages – and more are predicted – due to the nation’s energy crisis caused by “Green Energy” that has turned some Montana counties dark. The PSC commissioners are – right this second – working overtime to ensure that our rate-payers won’t be the victim of natural gas utility rate hikes because our power is being sent to Texas (because wind turbines don’t turn when it’s freezing cold and energy isn’t yet produced from unicorn flatulence).

Discussing the scuttling of the PSC during a record-setting energy crisis in Joe Biden’s “Dark Winter” is insanely obtuse.

And finally, let’s all agree on this as Republicans: Donald Trump “lost” – at least in part – because conservatives’ voices were unfairly censored by our current Big Tech overlords who have banned us in social media (including nealry a hundred-thousand Montanans). There are at least three bills being drafted – two by Rep. Galloway and one by Rep. Tschida – that will try to protect Montanans from such censorship. And two of these bills will clarify that (1) social media companies are communications utilities and (2) because the PSC is already tasked under state law to regulate communications utilities for fairness to their customers, (3) the PSC should protect Montanans from censorship and serve as regulatory judges over their unfair treatment and viewpoint discrimination.

Whatever mouth-breathing window lickers voted for this legislative bastard-child of a bill should ask who could possibly better protect us against censorship than the stalwart conservatives on the Public Service Commission. Will the Democrat governors in our future appoint solid commissioners to protect Montanans from censorship and side against the very corporations that placed them into office?

Not only is that doubtful, it’s absurd.

I’m in Helena currently, reporting for the Montana Daily Gazette (which has been censored, banned, and blocked on Facebook for reporting news that did not please the Ministry of Truth in Silicon Valley). Facebook’s censorship has cost my publishing group, Gideon Knox Group, more than a hundred-thousand dollars a year for the last two years. And I intend on finding each and every Republican who voted for this bill and to ask them personally to repent of this in sackcloth and ashes.

Furthermore, I intend to do everything possible to use my influence to persuade organizations like Montanans for Limited Government (and others like it), patriot groups, and a hundred-thousand disgruntled Facebook exiles in Montana to oppose this bill with extreme prejudice. We have all been the victims of censorship, and the PSC will serve an important function in protecting us from being exiled to the island of conservative misfits in the future.

And finally, I invite Democrats to join us in defeating this bill. While Republicans control the PSC currently, we also control the governorship. Do they want to risk removing Public Service Commission direct elections away from the voters and place it into the hands of Greg Gianforte? I should hope not. After all, disenfranchising and disempowering voters is quite the opposite of the democratic principles they so (supposedly) cherish. Do they really want the PSC to be controlled by the governor, who is in turn (often) controlled by lobbyists, or do they want power to remain in the hands of the people?

I recognize my tone has been harsh. But in 30 years of active political participation, I have never in my life seen a bill so fundamentally flawed as this one. This bill is the equivalent of a man punching himself repeatedly in the face. It is self-defeating. It is innane and profane. The bill is an absurd represenation of the incompetence and petty foolishness that all-too-often gives state politics a bad rap. This bill is basically the Republican Party building an I.E.D. in their garage, burying it in their own driveway, and then bellyflopping on it.

Republicans who voted for this bill in committee include Duane Ankey, Terry Gauthier, Doug Kary. And somebody should drug test them, because they’re tripping.

[Editor’s Note: This op-ed was provided by Montana Daily Gazette publisher, Jordan Hall]




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