Donald Trump poses tough decisions for Montana GOP stalwarts
HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Montana has consistently voted Republican in past presidential elections, but fissures are now developing within the state GOP over Donald Trump’s bid for the White House.
In an op-ed in the Washington Post last week, former Gov. Marc Racicot said he could neither endorse nor support Trump. He said the New York businessman lacked leadership and the conservative principles to be a true standard bearer for the GOP.
Other prominent Montana Republicans are saying they might sit out the presidential election because of such intense distaste for both Trump and Hillary Clinton, the presumptive Democratic nominee.
The last time Montana opted for a Democrat in the White House was in 1992, when Bill Clinton won the state in a three-way race that included independent candidate Ross Perot.
Campaign watchdog says county committee violated state law
HELENA, Mont. (AP) — More than two dozen campaign committees currently registered as political party committees may have to be reclassified as independent campaign committees or be re-established as official arms of the Democratic, Republican or Libertarian parties.
More than 107 political party committees are currently registered with the Commissioner of Political Practices, but not all of them qualify for that designation. Commissioner Jonathan Motl said he would review the status of all the committees, and those not affiliated with parties will face reduced campaign contribution limits.
The review was prompted by a complaint filed against the Madison County Republican Central Committee and its role in the primary campaign for House District 71 between Republicans Ray Shaw and Robert Wagner.
Motl said his investigation led him to clarify the role and functions of political party committees.
Memorial service held for Montana man killed by bear
KALISPELL, Mont. (AP) — Family, friends and law enforcement officers attended a memorial service Thursday in Kalispell to remember Brad Treat, a 38-year-old U.S. Forest Service officer who was killed last week by a bear while mountain biking near Glacier National Park.
Treat was biking in the Half Moon Lakes area near West Glacier when he collided with the bear and the bear attacked. A family member who was with him was unharmed and able to call for help.
Treat grew up in the Flathead Valley and was a star long-distance runner.
Officials have not determined yet whether it was a black bear or a grizzly bear.
4 plead not guilty to charges in Creston-area stabbing death
KALISPELL, Mont. (AP) — Four people who were arrested after the Memorial Day weekend stabbing death of a Kalispell man have pleaded not guilty to charges related to the homicide.
The Flathead Beacon reports 29-year-old Robert Matthew Wittal pleaded not guilty to deliberate homicide Thursday. Melisa Ann Crone, Christopher Michael Hanson and David Toman each pleaded not guilty to accountability to homicide in the death of 35-year-old Wade Allen Rautio.
District Judge Robert Allison set bail at $500,000 for Wittal and $100,000 for the others.
Court records say Crone believed Rautio had stolen drugs and money from her and that Wittal was angry with him, too. Prosecutors say Wittal received Crone’s permission to “commit an act of violence” against Rautio.
Charging documents say the four men traveled to an area east of Creston where Wittal stabbed Rautio. His body was found on June 13.
Man shot to death in Helena, suspect being sought
HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Police in Helena say a man was shot to death and officers are searching for a suspect.
The shooting was reported shortly after 11 a.m. Thursday near the railroad tracks off North Montana Avenue. Officers say lifesaving efforts failed and the man died at the scene.
The Independent Record reports police blocked off Bozeman Street to search for the suspect and question potential witnesses.
Police say a possible witness described the suspect as a white male wearing basketball shorts and long socks. No further description was available.
After their initial investigation, police said they don’t believe there is an immediate threat to the public.
Regulators fine water company over unauthorized sale
HELENA, Mont. (AP) — A Missoula water company has agreed to pay a $150,000 fine over its unauthorized sale and the new owner has agreed the utility can’t be sold again without Public Service Commission approval.
The PSC approved the settlement Thursday with Liberty Utilities Co. over the transfer of Mountain Water Co. in January. Mountain Water was previously owned by The Carlyle Group. The City of Missoula had won an eminent domain case allowing it to purchase the utility before the sale went through.
The fine will go to the Missoula Human Resource Council, which will help low-income customers of Mountain Water with the costs of installing meters or replacing service lines.
When The Carlyle Group purchased Mountain Water in 2011, it had also agreed not to sell the utility without PSC approval.