PSC chairman drops out of governor’s race
HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Public Service Commission chairman Brad Johnson says he’s dropping out of the governor’s race.
Johnson said Wednesday that he would need to be a full-time candidate to win the Republican nomination over Bozeman businessman Greg Gianforte. Johnson says he is not willing to compromise his commitment to the PSC to do so.
Johnson’s announcement leaves Gianforte and Mark Perea of Helena as the only Republicans seeking to unseat incumbent Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock.
The candidate filing period ends March 14.
Last week, after Gianforte formally announced his entry into the race, Johnson estimated he would need between $200,000 and $300,000 to win the Republican nomination. He had raised just over $1,500 by the end of December.
The Montana Television Network first reported Johnson’s decision to exit the race.
Coal projects advance but won’t be final under moratorium
CASPER, Wyo. (AP) — Federal and state officials have recommended the Interior Department move forward in its consideration of two mining projects totaling 644 million tons of coal beneath public lands, despite an Obama administration moratorium halting federal coal sales.
Wednesday’s vote by a five-member panel clears the way for a multi-year evaluation of the projects. They are located in the Powder River Basin of Wyoming and Montana, the nation’s largest coal-producing region.
The Jan. 15 moratorium from Interior Secretary Sally Jewell allows the processing of coal sale applications to proceed. But it blocks a final decision pending a sweeping review of the federal coal program that’s expected to take three years.
Industry opponents had urged officials to block the applications. They cited concerns over climate change and other environmental impacts from burning coal.
Attorneys at odds over whether booking photos are public
HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Months after a District Court judge ruled that the booking photo of a registered violent offender could be released as “public justice information,” attorneys are at odds about whether it has application statewide.
The Montana attorney general’s office cited District Judge Jon Oldenburg’s October ruling in declining to issue an opinion on whether booking photos are protected as confidential criminal justice information.
Gallatin County Attorney Marty Lambert had argued that booking photos should be confidential unless a judge orders them to be released. Montana Freedom of Information Hotline attorney Mike Meloy says he sees the attorney general’s decision as a rejection of that argument.
Lambert noted that Oldenberg’s decision found the defendant’s privacy expectation was diminished because his name appeared both on the jail roster, which is public information, and in the violent offender registry.
Chuck Johnson first reported the attorney general’s decision for the FOI Hotline.
Idaho company purchases stake in Butte Highlands Mine
BUTTE, Mont. (AP) — The Idaho-based New Jersey Mining Co. has purchased a 50 percent stake in the Butte Highlands Mine.
The Montana Standard reports that New Jersey Mining purchased Timberline Resources’ stake in the gold mine, which is located about 15 miles south of Butte.
Montana Gold Mining Co., of Ontario, Canada, owns the other 50 percent stake.
New Jersey Mining CEO Del Steiner said Tuesday that it is too soon to announce when the mine will be fully operational, but that road improvement projects required by the U.S. Forest Service should get underway this spring.
Montana woman denies bank embezzlement charges
BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A Montana woman has denied federal charges that she stole from Wells Fargo Bank in Billings.
The Billings Gazette reports that 38-year-old Sara Marie Clark of Laurel pleaded not guilty to bank embezzlement during a Tuesday hearing before U.S. Magistrate Judge Carolyn Ostby.
The indictment accuses Clark of embezzling $36,355 while from Wells Fargo while working there between March and September 2015.
She faces a maximum of 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine if convicted.
The case will be heard by U.S. District Judge Susan Watters.
Losses, regrets and questions at companies Trump endorsed
NEW YORK (AP) — Donald Trump is famous for having built a business empire on appealing to the affluent, getting them to stay at his high-end hotels, play on his seaside golf courses and buy multimillion-dollar condominiums in his soaring glass towers. The sales pitch: If you’ve got money, I can help you enjoy it.
In recent years, he’s also appealed to a less affluent group in three businesses, using a different pitch: If you don’t have much money, follow me. I can help you succeed.
While Trump says these business deals were successful for him, many who plunked down money hoping to catapult into the ranks of the wealthy fell far short, leaving anger, regret and finger pointing. Some fault Trump; others blame themselves for not vetting the businesses sufficiently
Montana cow gives birth to twin calves from different dads
GREAT FALLS, Mont. (AP) — A Montana cow recently gave birth to twin calves from different fathers — a genetic oddity that occurs only once in every 5,000 cattle births.
The Great Falls Tribune reports that a Black Angus cow near Cut Bank apparently gave birth to one gray calf and one black calf on Sunday. According to a Montana State University genetics professor, genetic testing would be needed to confirm the calves’ parentage, but it’s very likely they had different fathers given their physical characteristics.
Twins can be born from different fathers in most mammals, including humans. It’s more common among smaller mammals like cats and dogs, but rarer as the size of the animal increases.
According the cow’s farmer, the mother favors the lighter-colored calf.