Questions continue to fly over governor’s use of state plane
HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Montana Gov. Steve Bullock’s offer to partly reimburse the state when his official trips on a government-owned airplane coincide with campaign events isn’t good enough for some Republican lawmakers. They say the Democrat should be billed for more of the costs. Bullock will compensate the state $2,672 for time the aircraft’s pilots spent waiting for him while attending campaign business on 21 trips dating back to last April. Some Republicans say other costs should be factored and want him to count the expense for his security detail and staff who accompany him. Flight records show the state-owned airplane made at least 415 roundtrips from Helena since 2013, including 19 out-of-state trips.
Supreme Court rejects appeal to close Montana primaries
HELENA, Mont. (AP) — The U.S. Supreme Court has rejected an appeal seeking to close Montana’s Republican primary elections to only GOP-registered voters. That means the June 7 primaries will be open to all registered voters. The nation’s high court denied without comment Wednesday the appeal by the Montana Republican Party and eight county central committees. The court takes up very few petitions it receives, but in this case, Justice Anthony Kennedy had requested more information about the issue. GOP attorney Matthew Monforton says that gave him hope the court would intervene, but now he will focus on closing the 2018 primaries.
State to re-try Augusta-area man in neighbor’s death
HELENA, Mont. (AP) — State prosecutors plan to re-try Joseph Campbell in the October 2013 shooting death of a neighbor in an Augusta-area subdivision. The attorney general’s office filed a motion in District Court in Helena on Wednesday seeking a new trial date. Campbell was charged with deliberate homicide in the death of Timothy Newman. Jurors heard three weeks of testimony in late February and early March, but could not reach a unanimous verdict. Prosecutors said Campbell and Newman had been in an ongoing feud over land access and that Campbell had threatened Newman’s life in the days before the shooting.
9 legislative candidates disqualified after failing to file
HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Montana officials have disqualified nine candidates for the Montana Legislature for not filing required campaign documents. The candidates removed from the ballot Tuesday include four Democrats, four Republicans and one Libertarian. The purging leaves three incumbent legislators without opponents in either the primary or general election. They are Republican Rep. Mark Noland of Bigfork, Democratic Rep. Bryce Bennett of Missoula and Democratic Sen. Jon Sesso of Butte. The removal of two other Democrats means Republican primaries will decide the winner of House District 71 and Senate District 18. State law requires candidates who missed Tuesday’s deadline to file disclosure documents with the commissioner of political practices to be taken off the ballot.
Woman’s body found on barge in Flathead Lake
KALISPELL, Mont. (AP) — The Flathead County sheriff’s department is investigating after the body of a 38-year-old woman was found on a barge on Flathead Lake that was docked near Lakeside. Sheriff Chuck Curry says the woman’s body was found Monday morning by work crews. Curry said Wednesday he wasn’t sure if the woman’s death was due to natural causes, accident or suicide. He said there were no immediate indications of a homicide. Her body was taken to the state crime lab in Missoula for an autopsy and toxicology tests. The woman’s name has not been released.
Inquest set in the shooting death of a Livingston man
LIVINGSTON, Mont. (AP) — An inquest is set next week in the officer-involved shooting of a man in Livingston in January. Park County Coroner Al Jenkins tells the Livingston Enterprise the coroner’s inquest into the death of 37-year-old Sean O’Brien is set for March 30. Two police officers fired shots at O’Brien on Jan. 2 near Shopko after they said he pulled a knife on them. Police said they had tried to use a stun gun to subdue O’Brien, but it was not effective. The shooting is being investigated by the Gallatin County sheriff’s office and Bozeman police detectives.