Gov. Steve Bullock has issued another edict. This time, it’s taking away your right to choose how you vote in the November general election.
While I didn’t publicly oppose an all-mail ballot for the June primary election, it was a different time — we were still evaluating the coronavirus and its effect on Montana. Today, doctors have improved treatment and thousands of businesses across Montana have been able to operate by taking precautions to keep their customers safe. Surely, if you can safely go to the store to buy groceries you should be able to safely vote in person if you desire. If not, you have the option of voting with an absentee ballot. Yet, the governor wants an all-mail election.
What concerns me, and should concern all of us, is the inherent conflict of interest of the governor being on the ballot this November while simultaneously suspending election rules and rewriting them. The governor should be removed from any decisions regarding November’s election, but as we’ve seen, he’s already set the wheels in motion.
There are claims that we can’t get enough people to serve as election judges, yet thousands of employees go to work each day serving the public. Why don’t we offer increased compensation to election judges from Montana’s COVID-19 $1.25 billion relief pot? Plenty of individuals would be willing to work. But we know this is a long-shot with Bullock, who continues to keep $1 billion safe under his desk ready to disburse to a worthy cause to help him get elected. Meanwhile, thousands of businesses and families continue to suffer due to his commands, which have been made without consulting the Legislature.
Gov. Bullock has always spoken publicly about his bipartisan record in Montana, but those of us involved know that’s only the case because the Republican Legislature held him back from his true liberal agenda. During this difficult time in Montana, Bullock has failed to meaningfully work with anyone in the legislature — Democrat or Republican. He has also dictated to the people of Montana without consulting Montana’s elected statewide officials, like our superintendent of public instruction, state auditor and secretary of state.
Ironically, for the all-mail ballots, he told the press that he would consult with the Legislature on the decision. Conveniently, that happens to be required by the U.S. Constitution, where our founders made clear that all election rules “shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof.” Nevertheless, I didn’t receive a call, email or text. Why, you might ask? He doesn’t think he needs to — the U.S. Constitution is optional when you are Steve Bullock. State law gives our governor specific disaster-related powers during short-term emergencies, but that has no bearing on Montanans’ fundamental right to vote. Leaders bring people together — especially those who might disagree with them — to make sure the best decisions are made for all of Montana. That has unfortunately not been the case for the duration of this pandemic.
But this is the Steve Bullock that many of us have gotten to know while watching him operate in Helena over the last 12 years. He and his loyalists have done their best to keep the corruption, fraud, intimidation and scandals of the administration behind closed doors. However, we know that he has paid out record millions of dollars in state employee settlements without disclosing what the settlements are about and requiring employees to sign non-disclosure agreements. We also know that one of our most qualified lieutenant governors, Angela McLean, was forced out of the Bullock administration for unknown reasons. We’ve all heard the rumors, yet the former lieutenant governor has remained silent. Perhaps it’s time for the former lieutenant governor and the many terminated state employees to tell us about all that Steve Bullock is hiding.
After telling us time and time again that he didn’t want to run for the U.S. Senate because he didn’t want the job, New York Sen. Chuck Schumer flies into Montana and magically Bullock reverses course. What did the liberal New York senator promise Bullock? Nobody will ever know; however, we do know that it will come with a price that will not benefit Montana, but the liberal agenda of Democrat party bosses.
Even during this difficult time, there must be a check on Steve Bullock’s power. He continues to make unilateral decisions during an election year which invites outside factors to influence the decisions he makes, increasing the likelihood that they are not best for the people of Montana.
It is time to send the truly liberal Steve Bullock home for good before he is allowed to expand the D.C. swamp. Those who truly know Bullock’s misdeeds in Montana should speak up before we create another lifelong liberal politician with an attitude of doing anything to get elected.
Rep. Greg Hertz is a Republican legislator from Polson and the state speaker of house.