Saturday, July 16, 2011

Gary Marbut - Montana Shooting Sports Association - Montana Sheriffs and Peace Officers - Association (MSPOA), Jim Smith

"Dear MSSA Friends,

You may remember that following the 2009 legislative session, Helena
 Mayor and lobbyist for the Montana Sheriffs and Peace Officers
 Association (MSPOA), Jim Smith, filed a complaint against me with the
Montana Commissioner of Political Practices (CPP).  In that
complaint, Smith alleged that I had violated Montana law by illegally
lobbying the Legislature without having been registered as a lobbyist
with the CPP.

 I responded that I was merely exercising my First Amendment rights to
speak to legislators and to you.  Montana law requires people to
 register as lobbyists if they are paid to influence the Legislature
(as Smith is).  Since I am paid nothing, I told the CPP, everything I
 do in Helena is a protected exercise of free speech.

 After two years + of investigating this complaint, the CPP has 
 finally dismissed the complaint, saying that it cannot find that I
 did anything wrong or in violation of the lobbying laws.

 Now, the question remains, what about Smith and his false
 complaint?  Has he broken any law about filing false complaints with
 a government agency?  Has he committed slander with the intent to
 damage my reputation?  Certainly, Smith's complaint against me was
 widely reported in the media at the time, but the media has been dead
 silent on the CPP dismissal of the complaint.  Is it any wonder that
 I feel that Smith's snit has damaged my reputation?  He certainly has
 done nothing to personally attempt to repair any damage he may have
 done, such as offer an up-front public apology.

 Why did Smith file the complaint in the first place you ask?  Here is
 my best guess.  Smith had held out to the MSPOA (for whom he IS a
 paid lobbyist) that MSSA's landmark self defense bill, HB 228, was a
 dragon in need of slaying, and that only Smith could slay it, even
though there really wasn't much in the bill that affected sheriffs
departments.  However, Smith really wanted to use the political
influence of MSOPA against our self defense bill, because Smith is
personally very anti-gun, unlike most sheriffs.  At the time Smith
 was on the steering committee of Montana's only anti-gun group,
formed by a handful of Missoula radicals and called the Montanans
Against Gun Violence, a group that regurgitates the anti-gun rhetoric
of the Brady Center.

 Meanwhile, the sheriffs hoped to get some relief in the 2009
legislative session for the medical costs of prisoners in county
jails.  Smith neglected and failed on that issue, squandered MSPOA's
political capital and offended many legislators with his personal
anti-gun political agenda, opposing MSSA's self defense bill.

 In explaining his multiple failures to MSPOA, Smith's only excuse was
 that he was forced to play on an un-level playing field because Gary
 Marbut was lobbying for MSSA without being properly registered with
the CPP.  To emphasize this lame excuse to the MSPOA, Smith filed the
 complaint against me with the CPP.  At least, that's how I read the tea

Now that the CPP has dismissed the complaint, I hope Smith feels as
foolish as he looks.  Now that the Sword of Damocles no longer hangs
over me, it hangs over Smith.  He can wonder if there is a criminal
case in the pipeline for him for false reporting, or if there is a
fat civil case heading his way for slander.  We are definitely
researching those options.

Sorry if this sounds like a rant to you, my many friends and
supporters.  It has been very stressful to me to have a governmental
agency sicced on me, and having possible sanctions pending for over
two years, all for doing your business in Helena as a
volunteer.  Thanks for your continued support of MSSA.

Best wishes,

Gary Marbut, president
Montana Shooting Sports Association
author, Gun Laws of Montana           "