Sec. of State Serves Up a Heap of Criticism

By Beacon Staff

HELENA – While Republicans lunched on barbecued ribs, corn on the cob and salad, Secretary of State Brad Johnson lambasted Gov. Brian Schweitzer and state Democratic lawmakers.

Johnson leveled harsh criticism at Dems concerning constituency funds, the legal, but largely unregulated bank accounts where state lawmakers, the governor and secretary of state can store funds for campaigns or other business related to public office, like travel costs.

A bill passed in the 2007 Legislature requires elected officials to now report constituency fund-related transactions, but Johnson said the bill does not go far enough.

“I am sick and tired of elected officials that look the people of Montana in the eye and say to them, ‘I’m not going to do the right thing unless and until the law says I have to,’” Johnson said.

Johnson hammered Schweitzer for talking the talk but not walking the walk on energy development, criticizing the governor for using “slick brochures” and energy summits as a “substitute for real energy development.” Johnson also derided Schweitzer for missing meetings of the state land board, failing to develop the Otter Creek coal project near Ashland, and for Schweitzer’s derogatory remarks about Australian investment firm Babcock & Brown Infrastructure after its proposal to buy Northwestern Energy was rejected by the Public Service Commission.

Johnson’s remarks could make for some awkward moments on the second floor of the state capitol building, where his office sits at the opposite end of the hallway from Schweitzer’s.

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