Complaint Against Montana Shooting Sports Association President Dismissed
Missoula, MT --(Ammoland.com)- 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 leaves.
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
About Montana Shooting Sports Association:
MSSA is the primary political advocate for Montana gun owners. Visit: www.mtssa.org