Montana FWP Commissioner Bob Ream Resigns

By Beacon Staff

HELENA — Fish, Wildlife and Parks commissioner Bob Ream said Thursday that he is resigning because his nomination has stalled in the Republican-controlled Senate due to “pure partisan politics.”

Gov. Steve Bullock had nominated Ream earlier this year to a new four-year term, but the Senate has not moved on the confirmation request.

Republicans said their resistance to Ream’s nomination stems from emails from members of the public angry with past commission decisions dealing with wolves, bison, land purchases and other issues.

Ream said Thursday he was told that he was going to be rejected by Republicans upset with commission’s past decisions.

“I choose not to waste my time on a sham hearing, nor subject myself or my family to a Senate confirmation process that has a predetermined partisan outcome,” Ream said in a resignation letter.

Ream said he is disappointed to leave a position that capped his wildlife biology career. Ream is a former lawmaker, a past chairman of the Montana Democratic Party and was the FWP commission chairman until earlier this year.

He said the decision by the Senate to block his nomination “appears to be pure partisan politics.”

“There are those that feel strongly about some of the decisions we have made and can’t let go of that,” Ream said in an interview.

The move follows the Senate’s decision last week to block the nomination of former congressman Pat Williams to the Board of Regents over some comments he made about the University of Montana football team.

State Sen. John Brenden, R-Scobey, said he called Ream to tell him there probably weren’t enough votes to support his confirmation. He said the commission was “politicized” under former Gov. Brian Schweitzer and believes another direction is needed.

“He had his chance,” Brenden said. “I think he basically messed it up. He lost his credibility with us folks that are farmers and ranchers.”

Bullock lauded Ream for his lengthy public service.

“He’s been a powerful advocate for resident hunters and anglers and a tireless supporter for the rights of everyday Montanans to access public lands, rivers and streams,” Bullock said. “I’m disappointed that he’ll no longer be serving on the commission — he’ll be missed.”

Bullock will have to name a replacement for Ream.

Advocates, fellow commissioners and wildlife groups quickly rallied around Ream. Some criticized the Senate for not confirming him.

“There was a time when qualified appointees were routinely approved by the Senate in deference to the executive branch. Appointees with the skill set Bob brought to the Commission sailed through the confirmation process and did not fall victim to ideological attacks,” said FWP commission chairman Dan Vermillion. “Unfortunately, those days are gone, and Montanans have lost a very wise voice of science based management on their Fish, Wildlife and Parks Commission.”

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