Elections 2012: Forget Talking Cows, Montana is Now Obama Versus a Congressman’s Junkets

Elections 2012: Forget Talking Cows, Montana is Now Obama Versus a Congressman’s Junkets

Mark Trahant
9/25/12

Montana’s race for the U.S. Senate is fascinating. It was a contest about who was more Montanan. At least until this week.

Montana Sen. Jon Tester is accusing his opponent, Rep. Dennis Rheberg, of enjoying 15 “taxpayer-funded, government vacations” in 34 different countries. Those vacations include trips to the Netherlands (the hotel where John Lennon and Yoko Ono stayed) to a chance to strike up a friendship with “President Jose Maria Aznar of Spain that resulted in the Congressman giving President Aznar his belt.”

The news release said research shows that Rehberg’s “military jet travel cost taxpayers as much as $20,000 an hour” and that Rehberg “never submitted an itemized expense report.”

Of course congressional junkets are always expensive and never popular. They are always fair game political attacks. But the real dig of the Tester news release is Guilt by Association.

That release also said: “Rehberg was not the only Congressman strengthening new bonds on the vacation. In addition to government waste, Rehberg’s taxpayer-funded European getaway exposed an infamous congressional affair. Then-married Rep. Vito Fosella, R-N.Y., and Air Force Colonel Laura Shoaf were on vacation with Rehberg when the illicit romance was made public.”

“Dennis Rehberg is using taxpayer dollars to be a high-end tourist in Europe, sticking taxpayers with the bill with no benefit to Montana,” said Montanans for Tester spokeswoman Alexandra Fetissoff. “The only thing that came out of Dennis Rehberg’s government vacation was more embarrassing headlines and further proof that the Congressman doesn’t believe in accountability.”

Rehberg has yet to respond to Tester’s charge. He’s probably hoping he won’t have to do that.

But the Congressman is also keen on Guilt by Association.

Rehberg’s TV ads tie Tester to President Barack Obama. “Liberal Jon Tester is relying on dishonest election-year attacks to hide his out-of-touch Washington agenda as he and President Obama desperately try to stay in power," Rehberg spokesman Chris Bond said. "But Montanans know Tester votes with Obama 95 percent of the time in Washington, and they're going to hold Tester and Obama accountable for their failed, liberal policies on Election Day.”

On Sunday, polls showed Rehberg with 45 days to go until Election Day, a Lee Newspaper poll was showing the congressman with a 3 point lead over the incumbent Tester. While we don't put too much stock in individual polls, we are encouraged that this is just the latest in a string of polling data reaching back to last December, showing Denny in the lead,” his web page said.

Mark Trahant is a writer, speaker and Twitter poet. He is a member of the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes and lives in Fort Hall, Idaho. He has been writing about Indian Country for more than three decades. His e-mail is: marktrahant@thecedarsgroup.org.

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