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.