The Repub Conga Line Toward the Courtroom Spreads to Montana

Friday, October 07, 2005 at 11:45 AM

The sleaze connections among top Republicans and the corporate world seem endless.  The investigation of Abramoff now includes criminal charges against three mafia types accused of killing the man from whom Big Jack and his "connected" buddy bought a cruise line/gambling company, and could well entwine Grover Norquist, a host of Ohio Republicans, and several members of congress.

Now the Missoula Independent publishes an article speculating that the investigation and trial of the money laundering charge against DeLay may lay bare the role of then-RNC Chairman Marc Racicot in both the money laundering and the deregulation of power companies in Montana that has been a disaster for the state's citizens. story here

In "The Montana connection--Did Racicot wash RNC's dirty laundry?" (10/6) George Ochenski recounts how Racicot pushed for the Montana deregulation in his last days as Montana Governor, and its consequences, Which sound a lot like the Enron story without the Texas twang:

"It doesn't take a long memory to recall what happened at the end of Racicot's two terms as Montana's governor. First, Racicot became a close friend of then-Texas Gov. George W. Bush. After all, they were both governors of western states and spent time together at conferences and such, so the connection seemed innocent enough.

"But then Racicot became enamored of an idea that Bush and his corporate buddies wanted to push--energy deregulation. Racicot liked the idea so much that he helped Montana Power Company (MPC) lobbyists stuff Montana's own utility deregulation bill through in the waning days of the 1997 legislative session. Racicot and the Republican-dominated Legislature promised Montanans their free-market ideology would bring competition to the energy supply arena and lead to lower power bills for everyone.

"What followed is a failure of historic proportions that still reverberates in Montana and continues to plague our citizens and government with unbearably high energy rates. Before the year was out, MPC announced it was selling off all the dams and coal-fired power plants--built with consumer dollars--to an out-of-state energy conglomerate, Pennsylvania Power and Light (PPL). MPC also sold off its energy distribution systems, gas fields and pipelines in its rush to morph into a telecommunications company.

"We all know the history from that fateful moment on. Before you could say "good-bye cheap power," MPC announced massive golden parachutes for the corporate executives who had arranged the dissolution of MPC. Touch America, the telecommunications venture, went bankrupt, and thousands of Montanans lost their stock investments and pensions. The lawsuits that followed are ongoing to this day."

Then, according to the story, "Racicot kept his high-paid lobbying position [for a firm that had Enron as a client] and took over the chair of the RNC, where he controlled the purse-strings of the massive GOP fundraising machine and doled out the take for the 2002 midterm elections that shifted control of Congress to the Republicans. Not coincidentally, the election also brought Tom DeLay to his powerful position as House Majority Leader."