Copper King Hyperbole From Two Trial Lawyers Throwing A Legal Tantrum

by Travis Mateer

Hyperbole is a word that means “excess” and it refers to figures of speech that use extreme exaggeration to make a point or show emphasis. For example, when Joe Biden calls the voting legislation passed in Georgia JIM CROW ON STEROIDS, that is hyperbole.

I read a funny op-ed over the weekend that makes the hyperbolic claim that Republicans in Montana are acting like the new Copper Kings. For a quick history lesson, here is wikipedia’s brief description of this notorious time in Montana when the copper kings reigned:

The Copper Kings were the three industrialists William A. Clark, Marcus Daly, and F. Augustus Heinze. They were known for the epic battles fought in Butte, Montana, and the surrounding region, during the Gilded Age, over control of the local copper mining industry, the fight that had ramifications for not only Montana, but the United States as a whole.

The battles between Clark, Daly, and Heinze, and later between just Heinze and industrialist financiers William Rockefeller and Henry H. Rogers are a large chapter in Montana history. Eventually, Daly’s original company, known as Anaconda Copper emerged as a monopoly, expanding into the fourth largest company in the world by the late 1920s.

Before making the hyperbolic claim about Republicans in Montana, the author’s of the op-ed pimp their dad’s role in the 1972 constitutional convention. After establishing their Montana bonafides, the McKeon brothers say shit like this:

This March, Gov. Greg Gianforte signed Senate Bill 140 abolishing the Judicial Nomination Commission. The governor now has the unconstrained discretion to appoint whomever he chooses to judicial vacancies. This was exactly the type of Copper Collar power consolidation the 1972 delegates fought to abolish when it replaced the governor’s sole discretion to fill vacancies with a system that provided a list of qualified nominees derived through an independent vetting process.

Even though the legislative session ended last week, the political posturing over the alleged independence of the judiciary looks like it will continue. But is this really analogous to the Copper King era? And if it is, then what is the commodity that gave Gianforte the financial resources to make his successful run to become Governor? Technology?

Here is more from the op-ed:

Surely, Montana did not give the current regime a mandate to seize control of all branches of our state government, and they certainly did not give them a mandate to pursue this Copper Kingesque power through misinformation and subterfuge.

The governor and Legislature are perpetrating an unshackled power-grab by upending decades of reliance on the commission to act as a shield between the partisan executive branch and the non-partisan judicial branch. Montana is better and deserves better.

The two men who are using their family history to complain about Republicans exercising the power they WON when they overwhelmingly beat EVERY Democrat in EVERY statewide race are both lawyers. Michael McKeon is a trail lawyer at McKean Law in Butte and Matthew McKeon is a criminal defense lawyer at Datsopoulos, MacDonald & Lind.

That latter law firm got involved in the controversial 4th Street Condo Project last year and they used the power of the law to bully a Missoula citizen on behalf of the developer, former Griz football player, Cole Berquist.

Here is some context to that legal bullying from an Outerlimits post:

At Monday’s City Council meeting, Mary LaPorte shared a letter that she said her friend, Shirley Juhl, received from Datsopoulos MacDonald & Lind on January 24, saying they represent developers Cade, LLC and Pupaw, LLC.

LaPorte read the letter to the council:

“It has recently come to our attention that you have posted on Facebook a rendering of what the Fourth Street condominium project would look like from the Higgins Bridge … I’m writing for the purposes of placing you on formal legal notice that this rendering presents false and misleading information apparently designed to wrongly influence the public’s perception of the project.“

LaPorte further commented that, “This is a letter from a lawyer threatening a citizen for speaking out against a project. That is so against the values of our community. This is not who we are as Missoula.”

I’m not interested in the legal tantrum of some trial lawyers over what politicians are allegedly doing to their precious process for appointing judges. I’m interested in BIGGER PICTURE power dynamics, and a law firm like DM&L is right up there in local politics, bullying citizens for their deep-pocketed clients.

About Travis Mateer

I'm an artist and citizen journalist living and writing in Montana. You can contact me here: willskink at yahoo dot com
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4 Responses to Copper King Hyperbole From Two Trial Lawyers Throwing A Legal Tantrum

  1. TC says:

    Heard a rumor yesterday – but it was a rumor with a legitimate backing. Anyway the rumor is that the City of Missoula is going to outright purchase/ run the Poverello with Eran Pehan’s office oversight.
    If true I was wondering your thoughts – would this be a good/bad thing? What would the ramifications be? Interested in your thoughts. Thanks

    • hmmmm, I have A LOT of thoughts, and none of them are good.

    • JC says:

      Well, it is difficult to impossible for a 501(c)(3) to “sell,” but it can dissolve and distribute its assets to another nonprofit or charitable entity (I don’t think a local government qualifies). I would think that is just a rumor.

      But the Poverello could outsource management to the city. But that probably ends up transferring a lot of the cost of running it to the city, and greatly hamstring the efforts of the Pov to raise funds.

      I tend to think this is a way-out there rumor. If any attempts were made to transfer assets to the city, or have them run the place would garner huge lash back, not the least from the state’s attorney general who would have to approve any sort of dissolution.

      In any case, the city running the Pov or having ownership of the only real housing option for homeless peoples is not a good thing. The city can get in the business of providing low income/subsidized housing for the unhoused, and many cities do this — we already have the Missoula Housing Authority doing a lot of this (for better or worse). But having Missoula monopolize the unhoused/low income housing scenario would be really bad. Particularly for the unhoused.

      As Skink has already referenced — and is building a further case against — politicians wielding homeless and impoverished people as a political weapon is about as immoral as you can be.

  2. JC says:

    I’m not going to be an apologist for the McKeons. They’re just being good democrats with their own agenda. But Skink asks the question about what is the new “commodity” that is fueling the comparison to the copper kings.

    I’d offer that the most valuable commodity in the world today is data. And both Gianforte and Tom Siebel (a subject in an earlier blog here) sold out their businesses at great profit to Oracle. So if you look to Oracle, you can see that they have been consolidating their position as a data behemoth worldwide, and have extensive “suckers” in the U.S. military-industrial-intelligence complex.

    Larry Ellison, the founder, executive chairman, and CTO of Oracle recently became the 6th person to cross the 100 billion dollar wealth marker. The 6th richest man in the world holding the one of the largest private conglomerations of data, and has his eyes on expanding that.

    Ellison has been wielding his wealth and power as a data broker in many ways, including politically. Oracle has extensive ties with U.S. intelligence services, starting out originally as a CIA project. Both the CIA and NSA currently have affiliations with Oracle, and I’m sure the tentacles go much deeper, intertwining both.

    All of us have huge presences in Oracle’s databases, down to the books we buy at Amazon. So it isn’t a far stretch to say that our various behaviors are represented in government databases via Oracle software and data acquisition.

    In some ways I find this even more egregious than the copper kings. At least everything they were doing was visible. Oracle and Ellison operate in the deep dark recesses of the internet, building their monopolistic vision of data and the power it wields.

    Here is Ellison 20 years ago. Today, with acquisitions from Gianforte, Siebel and many, many others, the story is greatly magnified:

    “Ellison has always been a big believer in the federal government maintaining large national databases. And he was able to be much more public about it in the months after the September 11th attacks. In fact, Ellison argued that we needed just one large national security database, one with national ID cards and mandatory iris scans, naturally.

    “The single greatest step we Americans could take to make life tougher for terrorists would be to ensure that all the information in myriad government databases was copied into a single, comprehensive national security database,” Larry Ellison wrote in the New York Times in January of 2002.

    “Creating such a database is technically simple. All we have to do is copy information from the hundreds of separate law enforcement databases into a single database. A national security database could be built in a few months,” Ellison explained. “A national security database combined with biometrics, thumb prints, hand prints, iris scans or whatever is best can be used to detect people with false identities.”

    This is the heart and soul of the New World Order.

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