A daily digest of Montana news

Nov. 28, 2014






Great Falls






Miles City




Billings Gazette

Bozeman Chronicle

Montana Standard

Flathead Beacon

Havre Daily News

Daily Interlake

Livingston Enterprise

Great Falls

Helena IR

Miles City Star



Bozeman Magpie

The Flint Report

Last Best News

The Lowdown
Great Falls Tribune (blog)

Make  It Missoula

Mountain  West News



Belgrade News

Bigfork Eagle

(Big Sky) Lone
 Peak Lookout

Billings Outpost


Cascade Courier

(Chester) Liberty
 County Times

Choteau Acantha

(Columbia Falls)
Hungry Horse News

(Columbus) Stillwater
 County News


Cut Bank
Pioneer Press

Dillon Tribune

(Eureka) Tobacco
 Valley News

Glasgow Courier


 Ravalli Republic

(Hardin) Big Horn
 County News

(Huson) Clark
 Fork Chronicle

Laurel Outlook


 Western News

Missoula Independent

Char-Koostra News

 (Polson) Lake
 County Leader

 (Red Lodge)
Carbon County News

Seeley Swan Pathfinder

Shelby Promoter

Sidney Herald-Leader

(Sidney) The Roundup

 Bitterroot Star

(Thompson Falls)
Sanders Co. Ledger

Townsend Star


West Yellowstone

Whitefish Pilot

Government News for MT


SEN. JON Tester’s appointment to head up the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee is a feather in his cap, and should help Montana by boosting his influence in the Senate.

But the assignment, a two-year gig, also poses some dangers. One of his key tasks will be raising – and doling out – big bucks, which primarily come from wealthy donors.

Tester’s been outspoken about the influence of money, particularly “dark money,” the type that comes from undisclosed donors. He’s sponsoring a constitutional amendment to get the big money out of politics, as well as legislation to require more transparency by “dark-money” groups.

Because of Tester’s work with the campaign committee, his critics may accuse him of hypocrisy – a possibility that seems to make even some backers nervous. It could also draw attention to his 2012 campaign, in which dark money played a key role in helping him get elected, as explained by this in-depth Pro Publica report.

BUZZ was watching Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill being interviewed on "Face the Nation" Sunday when she was asked if her party's recent appointment of "fiery populist" Sen. Elizabeth Warren into the Senate leadership wouldn't signal a turn to the left when voters wanted more centrism.

McCaskill, one of the few senators to oppose Harry Reid's election as Democratic leader,  responded that the party wasn't turning its back on more moderate leaders. She noted that Reid named Montana Sen. Jon Tester to head up the party's Senate campaign efforts the same day he named Warren to a leadership post.

She described Tester as a "flat-top farmer from Montana who is about as salt of the earth as you can get, and who is a moderate through and through and so his voice is going to be in that room along with Elizabeth Warren's."

Indeed, Tester's views on issues such as gun control and the Keystone pipeline may cause hard-core liberals some angst. But they also recognize that he knows how to win elections on turf that's traditionally tough ground for liberals.

Meanwhile, Huffington Post reported that Tester got the job because the other finalist, Sen. Chris Coons of Connecticut, bowed out due to family considerations. 


FEDERAL prosecutors have opened a money-laundering investigation into the US financial activities of a member of Russian President Vladimir Putin's inner circle. The probe is looking at billionaire Gennady Timchenko's dealings with the Swiss-based Gunvor trading house, in which Putin also is believed to have investments.

You wouldn't think that could have anything to do with Montana, but you'd be wrong. Why? Because of reports that Gunvor became an investor in Montana's Signal Peak Mine in 2011.

Critics argue the mine is buying federal coal at below-market prices and selling it at a hefty profit overseas. And now, they say, it appears some of that profit may be going to into Vladimir Putin's pockets.

Federal regulators recently declared that there wouldn't any significant environmental impact from the expansion of the mine onto nearby federal lands, thus eliminating the need for a time-consuming environmental impact statement.

A WEEK before the election, Flathead Beacon columnist Mike Jopek, a former Democratic legislator from Whitefish, complained that the MSU-Billings poll was predicting strong GOP victories in statewide races for federal offices.

The problem, Jopek argued, was that the MSU poll "leans right." As evidence, he said the polls showed that Sen. Jon Tester would lose his bid for reelection in 2012 "big time" when he actually won by a "large margin."
This got Buzz to wondering: Is the MSU poll, as Jopek claimed, "conservative?"

Tester did defeat Dennis Rehberg by a 49-45 percent margin. And the MSU poll found Rehberg leading 43-40 several weeks before the election. But then, a Mason-Dixon poll (as Jopek acknowledges) also predicted a Rehberg victory. As did a Lee Newspapers poll showing Rehberg ahead 48-45.

Were they also "conservative" polls? Or could it be that Tester and his allies simply outmaneuvered Rehberg in the campaign's closing weeks?

So how did the MSU poll do in other races that year? It had Republican Rick Hill up by 2 points (within the margin of error) in the governor's race, but Democrat Steve Bullock won by 2 points. It also had GOP congressional candidate Steve Daines ahead of Kim Gillan 36-23, and he won by a 53-43 percent margin. So you can argue that the poll numbers seemed to slightly favor Republicans in 2012.

In 2008, however, the MSU poll was pretty dead on, though we won't go into the numbers for space reasons.

What about this year? The MSU poll found Daines ahead of Democrat Amanda Curtis in the Senate race by a 47-31 margin. Daines won 58-40. The poll also had GOP congressional candidate Ryan Zinke ahead of Democrat John Lewis 40-33. Zinke ended up winning by a 55-40 margin. So the poll significantly understated the margin of victory for both Daines and Zines -- even more so than it missed on Tester's race.

Does this mean that, by Jopek's standard, that the MSU poll now "leans left?"

Shoppers rush into Billings' Best Buy store early Thursday in search of Black Friday deals. (Billings Gazette)

Shoppers rise early to seek out holiday bargains

Owner of Flathead Lake home wants to cut tax value by $32M

City of Helena proposes land swap with Forest Service

Prosecutor criticizes alert issued amid MSU rape investigation

Travelers beware: Heavy snows coming Friday, Saturday

Woman going to prison for overbilling Medicaid for catheters

Study finds relatively high density of Glacier wolverines

Body found near Yellowstone River at Glendive

Avalanche kills snowmobiler near Cooke City

Heavy snow wipes out power in parts of Bitterroot

Belgrade man admit he helped rape suspect flee Bozeman

Livingston Guard unit back after 9 months in Afghanistan

Attorneys to seek exoneration of former Crow Tribe chairman

Whitefish residents debate what to do about white separatist

Major storm hammers MT as travelers hit roads for holiday

Body of 1 missing man pulled from Glacier County lake

Hutterite turkeys popular fare on MT Thanksgiving tables

He put camera in ex's shower; says he was filming chickens

Leadership battles continue to roil Rocky Boys tribal council

Bank of America settles with Montana couple over fraud claim

Stevi man gets life in prison for sex crimes

House committee assignments announced

Critic blames Boulder center staff for alleged rape of client

Revenue officials want to see coal sales handled differently

Group: Too many women, Indians earn less than living wage

Court reinstates fraud conviction of former Miss Montana

Polson editor wants crash-site charges dropped

Long-time employee tapped as DEQ's new director

Dangerous diversion dam on Bitterroot River is top priority

Media groups seek Blixseth financial records

Kalispell senator says censure came from 'kangaroo court'

4 men on fishing trip to Glacier County reported missing

Billings police ID pedestrian killed by elderly driver

Missoula school on edge after possible mountain lion sighting

Browning Sen. Augare arrested again for DUI

Republicans to debate idea of closed primaries in January

Utah man suspected of driving truck into GTF Verizon store

Committee assignments for incoming state senators

MSU, UM and Carroll all have home playoff games Saturday

MT prison escapee arrested in Nebraska after he calls 911

Movers & shakers: The state's top 10 political donors

Valier school staffer back to work after student 'sit-in'

Montana schools rated D- on national infrastructure report

Documents show security lapses at Hamilton research lab


Consumers plot holiday shopping strategies early

Supreme Court to hear Cloud Peak coal-tax dispute

Troy mine to reopen production

MDU to buy 43-turbine wind-farm project in North Dakota

Frontier plans Missoula/Denver flights starting in May

Great Falls' Sip 'N Dip named one of USA's top tiki bars

Billings' burger breaks into national spotlight


Bobcats tackle South Dakota State on Saturday

MHSA realigns Class A schools

Grizzlies hammer Carroll College, 75-52

Tester wants better coverage of playoff games from ESPN

Cat, Griz playoff games to be available on ESPN pay-per-view

UM's Wagenmann named Big Sky's defensive player of year

Johnson, Hermanson honored as Big Sky players of week

Griz enter playoffs vs. San Diego with wind at backs


Court clerks shouldn't be exempt from doing any part of jobs

Early appointments for Daines, Zinke would help Montana

Obama should stop delaying approval of Keystone pipeline

Former juror: Why it's so hard to convict someone in rape trial

'Efficiency' isn't good reason to close legislative caucuses

Tester: Being in minority offers opportunity for collaboration

Return of bison to Montana plains an awesome event


'Animal House' star enjoys being up on smaller Missoula stage

Photo show tells of life on Montana Hutterite colonies

LA Huffman photos captured the evolution of the frontier

A little grain bin house on the prairie

Retracing Bob Marshall's wilderness hike of 1928

Montana Public Radio revamps programming schedule

New Museum of Rockies exhibit depicts life of small dinosaur


Country star Clint Black to headline Headwaters Jam in June

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