This Week in Montana politics.
The biggest news in Montana politics this week came courtesy of a New York Times story pointing out widespread plagiarism in Sen. John Walsh's 2007 master's thesis for the U.S. Army War College. Walsh has said the plagiarism was an unintentional mistake and that PTSD and stress from a fellow veteran's suicide may have played a factor. According to the Navy Times, "The Army War College initiated its own analysis of the paper and determined this morning that there was reasonable cause to refer the case to the US Army War College Academic Review Board".
MTPR's Edward O'Brien spoke with UM Associate Professor of Political Science Rob Saldin about the Walsh news. Saldin's take: "This is a crippling charge. It totally undermines his credibility. The plagiarism is obvious, it's blatant and it's massive in scope."
No citizen's initiatives will appear on November's ballot. Secretary of State Linda McCulloch told the Missoulian's Charles S. Johnson "We haven’t had a general election ballot without a citizen initiative on the ballot since 1972. "That’s the same year voters approved the current Montana Constitution."
The 2013 legislature voted to put two referendums on the ballot. One would rename the state auditor's office to the commissioner of securities and insurance, the other would end same day voter registration in Montana and close registration on the Friday before the elections.
The Department of Homeland Security has granted Montana an extension to comply with stringent federal driver's license rules under the REAL ID Act. Montana Governor Steve Bullock and Attorney General Tim Fox oppose the REAL ID requirements, saying that Montana's driver's licenses are already secure. Fox told MTPR's Edward O'Brien that drivers licenses and ID cards have traditionally been the purview of the state - not federal - governments. He says the Montana Department of Justice has taken great strides in bolstering the security of these cards and keeping personal information private.
Daines Block Logging Bills
Mike Dennison of the Missoulian reports that "U.S. Rep. Steve Daines, R-Mont., has signed a letter asking House Republican leadership to block any bills attempting to encourage more logging in specific states – such as Democratic Sen. Jon Tester’s proposal for Montana."
Daines claims the letter was not intended to target Tester's FJRA, and that he hasn't taken a stance on that bill. Tester said: "It kind of caught me blindsided, because I thought we were on the same page."
According to Dennison:
"Daines said shortly after getting elected in 2012 that he’d like to work with Tester on the timber-wilderness proposal and the two have talked regularly about the bill.
Yet Daines, who is running for the U.S. Senate this year, has since shifted his primary support to a Republican-backed timber bill that would require every national forest to designate an area for logging, with annual timber harvest targets. It also would make it harder to legally challenge timber sales on federal forests."