In the last few weeks Rep. Jim Shockley has earned the wrath of Montana women.
Shockley is considered a moderate Republican by his constituents in Victor and Stevensville. But some domestic abuse workers said last week that Shockley crossed a line when he allegedly made a disparaging remark about women in connection with House Bill 213, which would require the state of Montana to recognize out-of-state orders of protection issued to domestic abuse victims.
According to two people—a legislator and a domestic abuse advocate—Shockley was overheard debating the bill’s shortcomings with its sponsor, Rep. Brad Newman (D-Butte) in a hallway. Shockley allegedly made a remark to the effect that if women were too stupid to bring copies of their protective orders with them when they entered Montana then they didn’t deserve the bill.
Shockley’s response to the reports: “Absolutely 10,000 percent no.”
Neither of the complainants were privy to the hallway conversation, having heard it second hand. Shockley doesn’t deny having a heated conversation with Newman, but says the debate was over the testimony given in favor of the bill by law enforcement officers. The cops, he says, testified before the House Judiciary Committee, which Shockley chairs, that had HB 213 been in effect, then Kathleen Sullivan would be alive today.
Sullivan was murdered by her estranged husband who had driven to Missoula from Butte to kill her. She had a protective order against him at the time, but the Missoula cops were apparently unaware of that, he says.
Shockley was enraged at the testimony of the officers. He says the Missoula police didn’t do their job when they failed to adequately investigate whether there was a temporary restraining order (TRO) in effect when the woman was murdered.
“All they had to do is get the TRO and serve it” on Sullivan’s estranged husband, he says.
He says the conversation with Newman grew heated and he was overheard by a lobbyist who took his comments out of context.
“I didn’t like police officers coming into the Legislature and bullshitting me,” Shockely says. “I didn’t mean that the lady died because of something she did, but because the cops didn’t do their job.”
Shockley, who is an attorney, says he will support the bill if a couple of amendments are added, including language that would protect the rights of both victim and abuser.
“This is the most poorly drafted piece of junk I’ve seen if you’re interested in human rights,” he says.
The bill received its second reading Feb. 12.