The past year has been an expensive year for Montana taxpayers. From the November 2016 election costing about $3 million (50% more than any other election in the state’s history), to the special election which cost Montana counties an unexpected $750,000, to the devastating summer of fire and smoke that burned over 1,032,801 acres of farmland and forest – hurting both the agriculture and tourism markets in Montana as well as the cost of $284 million with an estimated $53 million coming directly from the state budget to fight these fires.
Now, as the snow is starting to fly, and the wildfires are starting to subside, Montanans are faced with yet another set of fires – political fires. While we do have some good politicians that are true to their word of working for those who elected them, there are others that clearly aren’t. Senator Steve Daines has failed to hold town hall meetings during the August recess and continues to vote against affordable healthcare for the same taxpayers who have already spent almost $1.75 million dollars in unexpected election costs. And now, if you do want to meet him and ask him some questions, you’ll have to pay a $20 entry fee for his Montana high-tech jobs summit in Missoula on October 8th & 9th.
Daines isn’t the only Montana politician abusing his position - former congressman and Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke is under investigation for the use of private air charter – another misuse of taxpayer money.
Reportedly, Zinke has racked up a $12,375 travel bill that included a late night private flight from Las Vegas to Montana in June, a private flight to Alaska in May, and a third private flight to the US Virgin Islands in March.
Zinke’s response to this criticism? Just "a little BS over travel."
Spending extra taxpayer money for travel, especially when your own state’s budget is being raped from unexpected election costs and natural disasters doesn’t sound like BS to this Montanan. Expecting my elected officials to show up, act ethically, not take an advantage of their position, not waste my tax dollars, and work for me and not against me is not an unreasonable, and certainly not - as Zinke might put it, a BS request.