Friday, December 22, 2006

Gazette and Roy Brown team up?

In the Gazette's editorial today, constiuency accounts are addressed. Montana is the only state in the Union without laws governing the use of such acounts, which are comprised of unspent campaign dollars. In spite of that, it isn't clear why the law is urgently needed in Montana, since the use of such funds is already voluntarily disclosed, and since there does not seem to be any evidence of serious abuse of such money here in Montana.

It is reasonable for Roy Brown (R - Billings) to propose legislation to prohibit personal use of such accounts. Some of the uses mentioned in the editorial (ranging from uses by the Democrat governor to the Republican Secretary of state) do seem to skirt the boundaries of appropriateness, even if they are probably inconsequential in their actual effects. It is legislation that should affect both parties equally, so on the face of it, it would be a nice "good government" piece of legislation to come from the supposedly corrupt Republicans.

But one must ask, regarding the Gazette's interest in this: "why now?"

Anyone reading the print edition of the Gazette can plainly see the answer to that question. The editorial is a real gem that does the Gazette editors credit and is a perfect example of how they use headlines and highlights to promote Democrat interests.

The article is about state laws. Federal regulations already cover all of this for Senate and House races.

And yet, right in the center of the editorial is a highlighted box telling about the fact that Conrad Burns has over $200,000 left over in his account, and that he might be allowed to use it for legal expenses.

One is almost at a loss for words. Conrad Burns and the rest of the Washington delegation would be entirely unaffected by the state-level legislation the Gazette is urging in the editorial that surrounds the highlighted "Burns box."

Such legal funds will probably never be necessary, as the Gazette editors well know. Furthermore, since the allegations involve allegedly improper campaign contributions (and it should be noted that the Native American tribes involved emphatically deny any impropriety and were offended that their contributions were returned to them), one can reasonably ask why there would be anything wrong with campaign funds being used to defend the campaign. There have never been allegations that Burns himself was getting any money, so the implication that Burns would be using campaign funds to defend himself from personal legal charges is insidious and untrue.

But all that is beside the point. What is really worth pointing out about this editorial is that it was just an excuse to highlight more sly innuendo against Conrad Burns and the Republicans.