Around Montana, the impact of climate change is hitting hard: Extreme drought continued through the late fall and December brought record highs. Firefighters are moving from one catastrophe to the next, working longer hours, and longer seasons, than ever. Action is required, and Montana is in a unique position to act.
At the COP26, the global climate summit that wrapped up in Glasgow last month, the attending countries agreed that the climate crisis will never be averted without international agreements and concerted action.
The challenge now is for every nation, including the United States, to carry out our commitments to address climate change. I am running for Congress because honoring those commitments is essential to securing a sustainable future, and can bring good paying jobs to Montana, strengthening our communities.
My law practice has taken me across Montana where I’ve worked on water rights, wind generation, and helped new and upcoming Montana renewable energy producers. I understand how our energy laws and policies actually work out on the ground
In the new infrastructure bill, Congress invested in the new energy economy: by funding construction of the charging stations we need before we can have a fleet of electric cars; by investing in our land and communities and allocating funds to protect against drought and heat; and significantly, funding upgrades to our electric grid, that takes on new urgency in light of the recent fire in Denton.
These laws passed because they make sense, and the Democratic majority in the House and Senate was joined by enough common sense Republicans to stand in support of our future. Scaling up the production of renewable energy brings exciting opportunities for our communities and our workforce. Projects like the wind farms I helped Marty Wilde bring to Montana deliver needed revenue to our rural counties, schools, and first responders.
And that’s where Montana will enjoy real advantages. Montana has winter peaking wind, which complements the wind production in Washington state. Montana has a long history of exporting our natural resources. Sending our wind and solar power out of state, to our economic benefit, is a no brainer.
When Congress creates the policies to realize our promises in Glasgow, I bring direct experience of what can work for Montana. We can create an energy future that protects the planet, keeps energy producing communities whole, and provides opportunity for Montanans.
Climate change is here, and we can’t turn it around on a dime. We already see its effects in Montana, with fields drying out in droughts, rivers reduced to a trickle, and forest fires burning more intensely. These damages are not immediately reversible, and Congress must act now, and act boldly.
The Build Back Better Bill that recently passed the House includes $550 billion dollars to combat climate change, the single largest investment in US History to the clean energy economy. Montana needs our voice in Congress to ensure that we are able to connect those allocated dollars with real projects on the ground that will actually reduce carbon emissions. Montana can continue to be the engine room of the country, and supply the clean, renewable energy that is going to power our future.
In Glasgow, delegates made promises to stop carbon emissions and radically restructure our energy system. It’s time to make those promises reality. Our children’s and grandchildren’s well-being depends on it. Join me in bringing common sense solutions to Montana and sending a Montana voice to Congress.
In my family, Jan. 6, the Feast of the Epiphany, was a holy day of obligation, ending the Christmas season. My dad, who had been a candidate for the seminary, told us that “epiphany” was made up of the root words “epi” — essence — and “phanos” — expression. Epiphany, or Jan. 6, was the expression of the essence of Christmas — the day we understood the meaning of Jesus.
On Epiphany in 2021, we understood clearly the essence of the outgoing administration. Power — its own power — was elevated above all else, even American democracy.
The 2020 election should have been one to celebrate. The largest number of Americans — in over 100 years — cast a ballot in our presidential elections. The clear winner picked by the majority of voters (7 million more) and the majority of electoral votes (74 more) was President Joe Biden.
Rather than conceding a fair election, an administration obsessed with power called it “stolen.” Bizarrely, this claim was advanced in Montana. We saw the largest Republican victories in our history, winning control of all five statewide offices for the first time. Not one elected Republican forsook office because of “fraud.” And there was none, as measured by Republicans across the country.
Fixated on staying in power, the outgoing administration made a concerted effort to reverse 38 electors, the number needed to overturn Biden’s victory. Undeterred by the Constitution, which does not provide for “decertifying” electors after they cast their ballots, strong-arm tactics were asserted in Michigan, Arizona, Pennsylvania and Georgia. Steve Bannon called state legislatures the “center of gravity” and thanked his viewers for staging protests at legislators’ homes.
Shameless lawsuits were filed to stop certification of the election results, all failing on the merits. These abusive tactics, used to advance power at any cost, were rejected as “a historic and profound abuse of the judicial process” and sanctions were imposed against Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell for filing them.
When those efforts to stop the transfer of power failed, the outgoing administration encouraged a violent attack against our capitol and elected officials. In the immediate aftermath, partisan leaders called the attempted coup “horrendous,” but then refused to investigate it.
The obsession with retaining power, at the expense of democracy itself, resulted in Republican legislatures in 19 states, including Montana, making it harder to vote. Fourteen states, controlled by Republican legislatures, now let partisan bodies overturn future elections they do not like. Former generals warn of a potential coup in 2024.
These efforts are anti-democratic and anti-American.
The two Olympic teams I was on were invited to the White House following the Olympics. In 2000 our White House visit was at the end of November — after the election but before the Supreme Court decision in Bush v. Gore. The tension was palpable. People marched down halls engaged in fierce conversations. When the decision was issued, Gore responded with a clear concession. “Let there be no doubt, while I strongly disagree with the court’s decision, I accept it.” Gore cited Sen. Stephen Douglas telling Abraham Lincoln, who had just defeated Douglas for the presidency in 1860, “Partisan feeling must yield to patriotism. I’m with you, Mr. President, and God bless you.”
Voting — having our voice counted — is the essence of democracy. Mark Jan. 6, 2022, by calling on Congress to pass federal voting rights laws that will guarantee that each American’s vote and voice counts.
This Epiphany let’s express the essence of democracy. Let’s ensure that the will of the people will continue to abide.
For women, deciding whether to have children, how many we have, and with whom we have them, determines our life course. Obtaining a degree, having a career, volunteering in our communities, taking care of elderly parents, or raising kids are pursuits —what the Founders called the pursuits of happiness—that give our lives meaning. Our decision to be—or not be—a parent directly affects how we choose to make an impact on our world.
Women know all too well that these are self-evident truths. Recently, SNL comedian Cecily Strong bravely explained that if she had not had an abortion at age 23, she would not be a professional comedian at age 37. In a brief to the Supreme Court, over 500 professional and collegiate athletes confirmed that their athletic success would not have occurred without being able to make decisions about an abortion. Six out of 10 women who have had an abortion are already parents who do not have enough resources to care for more children. Women are conditioned to keep these stories hidden, afraid that their reasons, their decisions will be judged harshly as glib, or selfish. I can understand. Having been a single mother, I know the loneliness and uncertainty of whether I would be able to pay next month’s bills. No one should be forced into that job.
For 50 years, Roe v. Wade has shielded women from state attempts to limit access to necessary abortion services. I am committed to fighting to keep Roe, but the Supreme Court appears to be ready to abandon it, and states will then have an unfettered ability to ban abortion.
The new state laws that deny abortion access are not about abortion. These laws curtail, limit, and deny a woman’s right to engage in the world on her own terms. In Florida, Gov. DeSantis, who signed an abortion ban, vetoed a provision that set aside money to provide contraception to low-income women and girls. For low-income women in particular, the state legislatures that create the need for abortion and then deny access to it cut short educations, end careers, and extinguish, for too many, the ability to live fully “our one wild and precious life.”
I am running for Congress to fight for policies that allow women—and families—the ability to make their world a better place, in their own way, and on their own terms.
First, there is a proven and affordable measure —making contraception easily available— that reduces unwanted pregnancies. Colorado provides an example. In 2008, 60 percent of Colorado women, aged 15 to 24, who gave birth said that their pregnancy was unintended. Colorado responded by providing contraception to over 30,000 women. The results were dramatic. By 2019, teen abortion rates across the state dropped by 64%.
Second, Congress must take basic steps to support women when they do decide to have children. The annual cost of child care for infants can be as much as, or even exceed, the cost of tuition for college. Child care is 35% of some families’ budgets. President Biden and Congressional Democrats are pushing for meaningful support for families in the Infrastructure Law and Build Back Better law that provide child tax credit, paid-family leave, affordable child care, and universal preschool. But not a single elected Congress member who calls themselves “pro-life,” supports these provisions.
Third, Congress can ensure that every woman, in every community, is treated fairly. Our access to safe abortion should not depend on our zip code. Today, close to 40% of all abortions in the US, and 75% in my home state of Montana, are produced with a pill that doctors can safely and effectively prescribe up until 10 weeks of pregnancy. However, Republican leaders in Montana, like many other states, are restricting mail access to this medication, for purely ideological reasons. There is no medical or scientific rationale for such restrictions, but they disproportionately impact abortion access for low-income, rural, and Native American women. These restrictions are all the more egregious because the same legislatures permit men to obtain over the Internet unfettered access to Viagra.
Republican state legislatures are passing laws that inflame passions, create inequities, and literally have us turn against our neighbors. These laws purposefully destroy the critical network of support a woman turns to in her hour of need. Rather than isolate and marginalize women when they are most vulnerable, Congress can ensure that all women have the means to set the course of our own destinies.
Striving for more perfect
When the American team goes to the Olympics this month, it will be accepting the hospitality of a nation, China, with an appalling record of human rights violations. Because of those violations, the United States will break with usual practice and not send government officials to the Games, but the US team will still go. I believe it is the right thing to do.
Competing in the Olympics is the culmination of years of hard work. I, and my teammates on the 1996 and 2000 Olympic Teams, spent thousands of hours striving to be faster, stronger, better.
The world rightfully celebrates its athletes – whether they are racing against another or against history.
The 2022 USA Olympic Team reflects a long, hard-fought effort to transform the role of women in American life. Over half of the US athletes going to Beijing are women. In 1972, only 21% of the U.S. Olympic team were women.
At the heart of that transformation is Title IX – a 1972 federal law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex by educational institutions that receive Federal financial assistance. In 1972, only one in every 27 girls participated in sports. Today, because of Title IX, around one in every five girls does.
Participation in sports correlates to participation in the boardroom: Of 401 senior women business executives surveyed nationwide, 82% played organized sports. In 1972, women earned nine percent of all medical degrees, seven percent of all law degrees, and were zero percent of the graduates of technical education programs. Today, women earn half of law and medical degrees and are more than 25% of workers in vocational fields.
Title IX has also led to scrutiny of sexual harassment, assault, and violence. Violence against women is a worldwide problem. One of China’s most revered athletes, Peng Shuai, revealed on social media that a high-ranking member of the Communist Party had sexually assaulted her. Her posting was taken down within seconds, she disappeared for over 48 days, and later emerged renouncing all that had happened, a reaction many human rights observers believe was the result of China’s use of house arrest to coerce her.
In our country too, members of women’s Olympic teams were exploited and abused. For years, authority figures looked away as team doctor Larry Nasser abused young athletes. When American gymnasts reported the abuse, FBI agents initially falsified their reports to protect Nasser. But the gymnasts persisted. Nasser was charged, convicted, and is in prison. Those who did not stand up for these athletes when they should have are now facing civil and criminal penalties. Despite unforgivable failings over years, Nasser’s ultimate conviction is part of a larger American society in which many people continue to work to make sexual abuse a thing of the past.
The extraordinary presence of women on the American team highlights the remarkable progress of women in attaining equality not just in sports, but in all walks of life. To continue telling this story, and to continue working toward more inclusion and greater justice not just in America but in the world, the U.S. Olympic Team needs to be at these games in China.
American Olympic athletes have demanded that our nation examine itself and we are better for it. Jim Thorpe won gold in 1912, even while Native Americans were forced to relocate. Jesse Owens triumphed at the 1936 Munich games, even though he was ignored by the President at home where he returned to segregation. In 1968, in Mexico City, Tommie Smith and John Carlos raised clenched fists in protest of the continuing racism they faced at home.
America has not always been perfect, but we established our democracy to form a more perfect union. In assessing our failures alongside our achievements, we can be guided by the Olympic creed: “The important thing in life is not the triumph, but the fight; the essential thing is not to have won, but to have fought well.” In this way, both the Olympics and America share a greatness arising from our continued efforts to be better than we are.
Vladimir Putin drummed up a pretext and ordered the first-land invasion into a European country since the end of World War II.
Putin assumed that Ukraine’s fall would be as easy as annexing Crimea in 2014, or as easy as helping his puppet Lukashenko in Belarus quash his democratically-elected opponent in 2020.
But the invasion of Ukraine has been different. Putin didn’t expect President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to meet the moment with inspiring heroics, turning down the U.S.’s offer for safe passage for his entire family with the words of “The fight is here; I need ammunition, not a ride.” He didn’t expect that the Ukrainian people would display a fierce will to defend their country, with men and women of all ages signing up to fight.
Lastly, Putin did not anticipate that the whole world would work together to impose the most powerful, swift, severe economic sanctions ever on one country.
This diplomatic accomplishment is a remarkable one. The U.S., UK, Japan, Canada, and European countries have cut off Russia’s banks from SWIFT, an international banking exchange. This action has frozen Russia’s $630 billion rainy day fund that it had set aside to weather sanctions.
The European Union is sending weapons to Ukraine, a first for many countries. Germany stopped the Nord 2 Pipeline, and for the first time in 30 years, increased its funding to NATO. Even Switzerland has joined in by freezing assets held by Putin and Russian oligarchs.
But Republicans are sniping away at President Biden and the international effort he has so effectively led. Ryan Zinke is criticizing the President for being “weak.” Is he asking for us to send our military to Ukraine? Is he risking plunging the world into total war? Or does Zinke think it’s “strong” to believe Putin’s lies, like Putin’s claim that Russia had not interfered with the 2016 elections? Matt Rosendale is asking the US to look away and just shrug our shoulders as a ruthless aggressor commits war crimes, killing innocent civilians.
It is clear that the strong, swift, and large international response is the one we need at this time. Sanctions, by their nature, will take time to be fully felt and they will also hurt the countries imposing them. But already, the ruble collapsed, Russians are isolated and unable to fly almost anywhere, and they are unable to purchase foreign-made goods. In a country where dissent has been nearly wiped out, more than 8,000 Russians have been arrested for protesting the Ukrainian invasion. And this is week one of the war.
Working together is the only way forward. Whatever our country can do on its own, it can do even better — faster and with more and lasting impact — when we work with our allies and neighbors. President Zelensky has been rallying international support by defiantly framing the fight for Ukraine not as his fight, but as a fight to defeat a Russian war “against Europe, against democracy, against basic human rights, against a global order of law, rules, and peaceful coexistence.”
The war for democracy is here. Jimmy Carter poignantly observed that even when war is necessary, it is still an evil. Those words will be tragically true for the millions who will be displaced and the unknown numbers of civilians and soldiers who will be killed. But our country cannot turn away. We all must ensure that the U.S. becomes the critical partner in the global effort to save, rebuild, and renew democracy.
Climate change is here and scientists say we have a narrow window to act. We need to look no further than Missoula’s own relentlessly hot and smoky summer. At the same time, there is an urgent need to create attainable housing.
The median sales price of a home just reached $430,000, representing a 23% increase from the end of 2020. Finding indoor reprieve from extreme weather is more complicated for a growing number of our fellow citizens, with impacts to their health and livelihood. And monthly energy bills are unaffordable for those who live in leaky, uninsulated homes.
But we are not just tilting at windmills when we say we’re hopeful today — we see tremendous opportunity to address these linked crises, and with the urgency they deserve. As candidates seeking local and federal office, we see a way forward. It won’t be easy, societal and political shifts of this magnitude rarely are, but we believe persistence, policy and innovative thinking can put us on a path to better days.
To start, the best way out of a housing crisis is to build our way out. This may seem counterintuitive. Buildings and their construction account for 40% of our country’s greenhouse gas emissions. So why would building more houses help the climate? The answer is in the “how.” Our communities need housing, but not just any housing. We need affordable, energy efficient, low-carbon housing that will shelter working people, the unhoused and seniors, and will ensure our children can grow up and live in the same neighborhoods they called home.
We need to be smart about what and how we build.
Locally, our commitment to carbon neutrality in municipal operations is commendable, but it’s only one step. We need policies for new construction and building retrofits that align with climate goals and provide clear standards, expectations, incentives and financial options for developers. We can maximize public good by crafting zoning laws that create sustainable and affordable neighborhoods including parks, schools, parking and commercial enterprises. This is our opportunity to be bold in how we define our future.
Second, whereas the 1920s strived for “a chicken for every pot,” the 2020s need “solar for every home” — owned or rented. We cannot meet climate goals with tax breaks only for those who can afford to add panels to their single-family homes. We need to support all Montanans by widely and immediately investing in solar options. Other states and cities have established solar communities that benefit renters, built public housing that passes energy savings back to public coffers, and offered grants to middle and working class families (instead of tax credits) to boost the solar conversion we need now. This is the right thing to do, we have the means to do it, and it is incumbent upon us to collectively build the political will to do so.
We are at a fork in the road. We can stay glued to the rearview mirror and let modern-day copper kings maximize short-term profits at our expense, or we can build on the notable efforts of leaders like Mike Mansfield and Lee Metcalf who let their imagination lead us into better days and better ways. For us, the choice is simple.
Albert Einstein said, “Imagination is more important than knowledge,” but for us, when knowledge and imagination merge, the greater good can lead to a future with safe and healthy housing and a livable climate for all.
Your voice in the US House of Representatives is about to double thanks to population growth that gave Montana back its second Congressional seat for the first time in nearly thirty years. One of the big questions voters in Western Montana face is whether they want their new representative to truly voice their interests or whether we will have a Congressperson who is more at ease with the powerful interests that spend over a hundred million dollars each year on K-Street lobbyists and consultants who haunt the hallways of Congress seeking special favors at the expense of Montanans.
If you read or listen to the talking heads in the DC swamp, the odds-on favorite for our new seat is Ryan Zinke. That’s the same Ryan Zinke who, only four months after being elected in November 2016, walked away from his Montana Congressional seat to take a position where he could coddle those same powerful special interests as they sought favors and special advantage. It’s paid off as Zinke is now $30 million richer since jumping into the DC swamp.
This is the same Ryan Zinke who in a little over a year and a half was pressured to leave office under a cloud of corruption and resigned in disgrace. In fact, according to the Washington Post, “Zinke was told he had until the end of the year to leave or be fired.” Just recently a Trump-appointed Inspector General reported that Zinke had misused his position and broke ethics rules for his own personal financial benefit.
But Zinke had already bellied up to the petroleum bar to cash-in on the big money they’re pocketing by overcharging us at the gas pump. In his legally-required financial report, Zinke disclosed that he had received $460,000 from ConocoPhillips alone. That report was up to seven months late, raising more questions of whether Zinke was getting money from Big Oil as a candidate.
Almost exactly a year ago, while still being paid big money from Big Oil, Zinke decided to announce that he would start picking up big campaign dollars from Big Oil by running for this seat. Sort of like trying to butter your bread on both sides . And this could just be the tip of an iceberg.
As I said, representing Montana is about making choices. Candidates have choices to make. Voters have choices to make.
Ryan Zinke made a choice years back to be in the pocket of Big Oil. He supported them in Congress, coddled them from Interior, collected more than a half million from them as a “consultant” or board member, and now is chasing them for more campaign cash. There is no question whose bed Ryan Zinke has chosen to lay down in.
I have made a choice as well. In a letter last week to the ConocoPhillips CEO I told him in no uncertain terms: “I am running for the same Congressional seat as Ryan Zinke and I want you to know that I have no interest in receiving any consulting, lobbying or campaign checks from ConocoPhillips. I intend to represent the interests of Montanans, not powerful corporations such as ConocoPhillips.”
Montana voters will also need to make choices. Will you choose to demand answers from Ryan Zinke about:
– What exactly did Ryan Zinke do for the $460,000 he got from ConocoPhillips?
– Did Zinke use his positions to secure a $2,500 campaign contribution from ConocoPhillips PAC and other Big Oil donations?
– Did Zinke advise ConocoPhillips to go ahead and price gouge Montanans at the gas pump while raking in $8.1 billion in profits last year?
Will you choose to believe Ryan Zinke when he lies and denies these facts and tells you he wants to represent you? Or will you choose to cast your vote for me, Monica Tranel, in my crusade to serve Montanans in Congress with the same level of commitment and dedication, honor and integrity, I applied to represent America in two consecutive Olympic Games. The choice, I hope, is clear.
For women, our life course is determined by deciding whether we have children, how many we have, and with whom we have them. Obtaining a degree, having a career, volunteering in our communities, taking care of elderly parents, or raising kids are pursuits —what the Founders called the pursuits of happiness—that give our lives meaning. Our decision to be—or not be—a parent directly affects how we choose to make an impact on our world.
Women know these are self-evident truths. In the fall of 2021, SNL comedian Cecily Strong bravely explained that if she had not had an abortion at age 23, she would not be a professional comedian at age 37. Poignantly, six out of 10 women who have an abortion are already parents who lack resources to care for more children. Women are conditioned to keep these stories hidden, afraid that their reasons, their decisions will be judged harshly as glib, or selfish.
For 50 years, Roe v. Wade has shielded us from states that limited access to necessary abortion services. Based on the leaked draft, the Supreme Court is going backwards, arguing that “It is time to . . . return the issue of abortion to the people’s elected representatives.”
When this happens, state restrictions will have an outsized impact on those who are low-income, live in rural areas, and are Native American. Those of us in these circumstances will not have the means to travel to states where abortion remains legal. Banning abortion will not end abortion. But abortion bans will cut short educations, end careers, and extinguish, for too many, the ability to live fully “our one wild and precious life.”
I am running for Congress to fight for policies that allow all of us to have the ability to make our world a better place, in our own way, and on our own terms.
First, Congress must codify Roe’s protections for all by passing the Women’s Health Protection Act. This law will create a federal right to medical care, which will trump state efforts to limit abortion access.
Second, Congress can do more to prevent unwanted pregnancies by providing free contraception to all. In 2008, 60 percent of Colorado women, aged 15 to 24, who gave birth said that their pregnancy was unintended. Colorado responded by providing contraception to over 30,000 women. The results were dramatic. By 2019, teen abortion rates across the state dropped by 64%.
Third, Congress must support the families who want to have children. The annual cost of child care for infants can be as much as the cost of college tuition. Child care is 35% of some families’ budgets. President Biden and Congressional Democrats are pushing for the child tax credit, paid-family leave, affordable child care, and universal preschool. But not a single elected Congress member who calls themselves “pro-life,” supports these provisions.
Fourth, Congress must guarantee essential medical care. Today, close to 40% of all abortions in the US, and 75% in Montana, are produced with a pill that doctors can safely and effectively prescribe up until 10 weeks of pregnancy. However, Republican leaders in Montana and other states are restricting mail access to this medication. There is no medical or scientific reason to do so. Indeed, the same legislatures permit men to obtain over the Internet prescriptions for Viagra.
Yes, the Supreme Court looks ready to return to a time when states can limit abortion access. But that is not the last word. We have the next say. If elected to Congress, I will ensure that all of us have the means to set the course of our own destinies.
In 1963, then-Senator Mike Mansfield explained, “We are here to do the public’s business.”
On the trail I have heard over and over that voters don’t know who to trust. We should be able to trust that Congress will act in the public interest. money in politics erodes that trust. Here are three needed solutions to end corruption.
First, money in politics allows members of Congress to enjoy a direct financial benefit from the laws that are before them. In February 2020, Senator Richard Burr received classified information about COVID-19, and sold–on one day–$1.7 million in stock holdings in companies such as hotels that would be impacted by the forecasted economic pain. Recently, Paul Pelosi, the husband of the Speaker Nancy Pelosi, bought millions of dollars of stock in the computer-chip company Nvidia right before a bill was introduced to increase semiconductor manufacturing.
These are not isolated examples. In 2021, dozens of lawmakers and 182 staffers made millions by trading stocks they were regulating. If Congressional members have a financial stake in the outcome of a law, we have no guarantee that they will advance the public good if enacting the legislation causes them to take a personal financial loss, or harm the public in order to feather their own nests.
In Congress, I will support the Ban Congressional Stock Trading Act, a bill that requires all Congress members, their spouses, and their children to divest themselves of individual stocks or place them in a blind trust.
And I won’t wait until the right law passes to do the right thing. If elected, g I will create a blind trust for assets my husband and I own. I will not engage in direct trading of individual stocks. No one on my staff will be permitted to work on issues in which they have a personal financial interest.
I call on Ryan Zinke and John Lamb to pledge to do the same.
Second, the revolving door of members of Congress and administration officials leaving office and taking lavishly paid lobbying or consulting jobs with the very industries they were once expected to oversee must stop. When Zinke resigned from the Interior Department in disgrace, he immediately began making money from oil companies that operate on our public lands. And he made a lot of money. From 2015 when he entered Congress, his wealth increased 13-fold to $35 million. Was it really possible for Zinke to serve the public interest, rather than oil company interests, when he knew those lucrative arrangements lay ahead? Congress must pass an ethics law barring former members from working in the field they regulated for five years after their term ends. I will champion this bill, and hold myself up to this standard.
Third, corporate and out-of-state interests pour millions into campaigns. I’m honored to represent those who live in our new district. But, now, a seat in Congress can be purchased by the highest bidder. Since the primary, 70% of my campaign donations are from people living and working in Montana. For Zinke, only 6% of his campaign donations were from Montanans. Zinke has proven himself to be a shill for those who are buying him. You know that I will work for you.
This race presents a clear choice. Montanans can choose someone who does the bidding of his out-of-state donors and corporate clients, or a Montanan whose paycheck comes signed by the voters of Montana. I have an undivided loyalty to serve Montana. In Congress I will do the public’s business, and fight to end corruption.
Ryan Zinke just announced that his first act in Congress would be a law he is calling the “FEAR Act,” which he claims reforms the government bureaucracy.
But this ill-conceived proposal is half-baked and threatens the livelihoods of our fellow Montanans who work to prevent and fight forest fires, keep planes from crashing into each other, maintain our national parks and federal public lands, assure workplace and product safety, assist farmers and ranchers, thin forests around our homes, advise small business, protect fish and game, provide services to tribes, and deliver the mail. That’s bad for everyone whose careers have been built around doing that work, and bad for all of us who rely on these vital public services.
More than 13,000 Montanans work for the federal government. Zinke’s FEAR Act will disincentivize good people from entering public service and will fire experts whose knowledge and talents are needed.
Zinke admits that the law – as he wrote it – may mistakenly target front-line workers or interrupt essential services. But he assures us that once introduced in Congress, his bill will somehow magically be amended to protect the public and Montana’s hard-working federal workers. But we don’t need, and shouldn’t elect, a Congressman who introduces bad bills with the hope that somehow more knowledgeable members of Congress will clean them up.
Over 125 years ago, Congress rejected the spoils system and provided that merit, not political connections, should determine who got hired to work for the federal government. Since then we have benefited from the experience and professional expertise of federal workers. They sent us to the moon, gave us the internet, the weather reports we check every day, and the Fort Peck dam that Zinke claims brought his family to Montana.
Zinke’s FEAR Act would reverse all that. Make no mistake about it: Zinke is proposing to restore the bad old days when politicians handed out government jobs like candy and the public had to swallow the resulting incompetence and corruption.
The most glaring problem with Zinke’s FEAR Act is that it does not stop the most obvious form of government corruption: the revolving door that lets former government officials profit from the companies they once regulated. I support closing that door by banning lobbyists from ever fundraising for candidates and increasing the “cooling off” period from its current one-year ban to a five-year ban for former Congress members to work in industries that have business before the federal government.
It’s not surprising that Zinke would wrongly police competent essential workers and not police his own corruption because he’s not serving the public, he’s watching out for himself. As Interior Secretary, he recommended reducing the Bears Ears Monument by 85% so that oil, gas, and coal drilling could occur on sacred and public lands. After Zinke left office, he went on to earn lots of money “consulting” for companies that stood to profit from Zinke’s trade of public land for private industry gain.
Last year alone, ConocoPhillips paid Zinke $460,000. Are they paying for Zinke’s knowledge – or for his vote? Are we really expected to believe that Zinke’s recommendation to take away land from the public was driven by the public good instead of his own private future earnings? Last week, Zinke’s trail of corruption added another stop, with the Investigator General report that Zinke lied to investigators about his conduct.
If there’s anything good about the FEAR Act, it’s its name. Because the act, and Zinke’s intentions, are truly to be feared.
In my campaign for Congress, I’ve traveled over 35,000 miles to connect with Montanans across the district. Montanans are most concerned about inflation and how to make ends meet. Prices are rising faster than wages, and people can’t keep up.
My opponent, Ryan Zinke, has tried to make political hay out of the distress of Montana families. Mostly that means a lot of indignation and blame casting, but no solutions. Zinke has given us no idea how he would make our lives more affordable. He has no plan for dealing with inflation.
Well, I do.
Number one is to rein in the monopoly power of corporations. Inflation has multiple causes, but it has been amplified by corporations taking advantage of the opportunity to gouge consumers and balloon profits. Prices have risen most where corporate competition is weakest. Corporate profits are at historic highs. And the concentration of market power is getting worse.
We can reverse that trend. As an attorney, I’ve taken on large corporations on behalf of Montana small businesses, workers and families. I won those battles and saved millions of dollars for Montana families. In Congress, I will carry on that fight.
Number two is we need to bring manufacturing back to America and Montana. Globalization has made us vulnerable to breaks in the supply chain, with empty store shelves and goods unavailable at any price. When we allow essential goods like computer chips to be produced abroad, we lose control of our economic destiny.
Bringing manufacturing back to America means we will create new jobs paying higher wages here in Montana. But just creating those opportunities is not enough – people need to be able to take advantage of them. They can’t do that if they can’t afford a home here, or care for their kids, or obtain the training required, or get the medicines needed to stay healthy. My plan addresses adequate funding of housing construction, child care, and post-secondary education, and control over prescription drug prices.
Number three is to rein in Federal spending and deficits. On the tax side, we need to make sure that everyone is paying their fair share. The Inflation Reduction Act that just passed Congress was a good start, but tax rates for super wealthy Americans will still be lower than the rate for the average Montana family. When it comes to spending, we need to make sure that funds are going to the people and programs in real need and not to lavish corporate welfare. To stop these undeserved tax breaks and corporate handouts, we need to end the corrupting influence of money in politics. Members of Congress should be responsive to their constituents and not to the corporate PACs and wealthy donors who fill their campaign war chests, or offer them cushy jobs when they leave office.
Finally, number four is to create a new renewable, reliable and affordable energy system. With its renewable resources, Montana is positioned to prosper in the new energy economy. I have worked with renewable energy producers across Montana, and I know how it’s done. But as much as building a new energy economy means opportunity for Montanans, it means securing the future of all Americans. By being truly energy independent, when we fill our cars or heat our homes we will no longer be under the thumb of autocrats in Riyadh and Moscow.
As an Olympian and a lawyer, I know success comes from planning and executing. I have a plan to build a thriving Montana, and I will work for working people.