It’s never wise for a politician to break a campaign pledge to her political supporters, particularly when they’re well-armed.
Last week, Gov. Judy Martz invoked the wrath of the Montana Shooting Sports Association (MSSA) for failing to back legislation that would keep sportsmen from having to provide their Social Security numbers on hunting and fishing license applications.
“Gov. Martz has clearly dumped her promise to sportsmen,” says MSSA President Gary Marbut of Missoula, about her opposition to House Bill 282. “I have had over 20 meetings and phone calls with senior administration staff about this, but the governor still refuses to abide by her written promise to Montana sportsmen.”
The Social Security requirement on hunting and fishing licenses has raised the ire of many Montana sportsmen, who see it as an invasion of privacy that exposes them to the risk of identity theft. Montana adopted the policy as part of a federal mandate to help states recover back-due child support payments from “deadbeat dads.” Montana stands to lose as much as $113 million in federal funds for welfare recipients if it withdraws the Social Security requirement.
But Marbut points out that at least 17 other states have already revoked the requirement and not been penalized. In a letter to Todd O’Hair, Martz’s natural resources policy advisor, Marbut writes, “I believe the Administration will find liberal friends climbing onto your raft as your former conservative friends bail off. If that doesn’t give you cause for concern, it darn well ought to.”
Meanwhile, Gov. Martz, who criticized Democratic challenger Mark O’Keefe during the 2000 election race for relying on issue ads produced and paid for by out-of-state interest groups, is herself taking heat for a similar ad campaign that promotes her education reform package, which includes raiding Montana’s coal tax trust fund.
The Great Falls Tribune reported March 25 that a Virginia-based group called Americans for Job Security is spending $30,000 to $35,000 for 30-second TV spots airing in Missoula, Great Falls and Billings. Martz’s plan calls for using $32 million from the Coal Trust to shore up public education funding.
According to the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania, Americans for Job Security is a conservative pro-business group launched in October 1997 by the insurance industry, and is an offshoot of a coalition formed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to advocate against AFL-CIO issues.
Martz’s press secretary, Mary Jo Fox, says that the governor had no involvement in producing the ads, but even if she had, there’s nothing wrong with that, since “this isn’t campaign season.”