Campaign Beat Oct 26 – Sally, Chuck and Mike talk about the $500,000 question…

Chuck Johnson, Sally Mauk, Mike Dennison

On this edition of “Campaign Beat”, our weekly political analysis program, News Director Sally Mauk talks with Lee newspaper reporters Chuck Johnson and Mike Dennison about the flap over the $500,000 donation to Republican Rick Hill’s gubernatorial campaign, the final push in the tight U.S. Senate race, two new attack ads in that race, and the impact of absentee voting…

Campaign Beat Oct 19 – Chuck, Sally and Mike talk donations, lawsuits, and ads…

Chuck Johnson, Sally Mauk, Mike Dennison

On this edition of “Campaign Beat”, News Director Sally Mauk talks with Lee newspaper reporters Chuck Johnson and Mike Dennison about the brouhaha in the governor’s race over campaign donations, the importance of Saturday’s televised Senate debate, and the latest ads in that Senate race….

Schweitzer justifies trips in final months in office

Governor Brian Schweitzer is returning to Montana tonight after a few days of meetings in Washington D.C.

Last week, Schweitzer spent a few days in China meeting with companies about exporting Montana products.

Meanwhile, the latest round of attacks flying around the U.S. Senate Race between Jon Tester and Denny Rehberg concern accusations of unwarranted trips on the government dime.

In D.C., Governor Brian Schweitzer has been meeting with the departments of Interior and Energy, another meeting regarding a pork processing plant he’s trying to help facilitate in Shelby. Of course, he didn’t miss his opportunity to stop in at CNN.

Schweitzer says regular meetings with Federal Agencies are a part of the job.

“For better or for worse, it’s a partnership of the states and the federal government. 25 percent of the land in Montana is owned by the federal government and we’ve got to build this partnership,” Schweitzer said.

The Governor is leaving office at the end of the year due to term limits, to be replaced by either Democrat Attorney General Steve Bullock or former Republican Congressman Rick Hill. The rumor mill has been running wild with questions about what Schweitzer may do next—maybe a 2016 Presidential bid or perhaps a cabinet post.

“Any of those meetings include talks of plans for your future sir?” I asked Schweitzer.

“No (laughs) no. I think most people know that I love Montana and my future is in Montana.”

Schweitzer’s recent trip to China was spurred by him being invited to speak at an international energy conference.

“Shared the panel with a couple of Nobel Prize Laureates so I was a little intimidated.”

He also used the opportunity to visit companies where he’s trying to work out export deals. He says the emerging markets for Montana commodities are immense.

“100 percent of the copper ore produced in Montana currently goes to China, has for years. They have an active interest in increasing their purchases of meat in the United States and that’s why we’re working on this pork processing plant.”

The Governor also pursued opportunities for exporting platinum, palladium, wheat, barley and coal.

“This being again, your final months in office, do you feel you have to change your conversations, do you have to change your approach since you won’t be the man you’re dealing with in a few months?” I asked.

“Everybody understands that we have a democracy in this country and whoever is elected to an office at some point in the not too distant future that personality will no longer be in that office. You represent the office and you represent the state of Montana, that’s my mission… I don’t represent myself as a personality, that’s what I do as a private businessman and that’s what I’ll be doing in the future.”

Until then, Schweitzer stands behind his final trips around the country and around the world as the Governor of Montana.

“Well, I don’t think there’s anybody in Montana that thinks Brian Schweitzer just loves going to Washington D.C. I’ve made that abundantly obvious in the past. And there are a lot of destinations around the world, almost all destinations around the world are far superior to going to China if you want to be a tourist.”

Campaign Beat Oct 5 – Sally, Chuck and Mike talk campaign financing, and yes, more ads….

On this edition of “Campaign Beat”, our weekly political analysis program, News Director Sally Mauk talks with Lee newspaper reporters Chuck Johnson and Mike Dennison about a new ruling changing Montana’s campaign finance laws, charges of hypocrisy in the U.S. House race and lavish vacations at taxpayer expense in the U.S. Senate race – and of course, the latest TV ads…

 

Campaign Beat Sept 28 – Sally, Chuck and Mike talk debates, death and taxes…

Chuck Johnson, Sally Mauk, Mike Dennison

On this edition of “Campaign Beat”, our weekly political analysis program, News Director Sally Mauk talks with Lee newspaper reporters Chuck Johnson and Mike Dennison about the recent gubernatorial and U.S. House debates, two new ads in the U.S. Senate race that target the candidates’ positions on the death tax,  and whether voters are suffering “ad fatigue”…

Campaign Beat Sept 7 – Sally, Chuck and Mike talk about Montana shtick – and TV ads…

In this edition of Campaign Beat, our weekly political analysis program, News Director Sally Mauk talks with Lee newspaper reporters Chuck Johnson and Mike Dennison about Governor Brian Schweitzer’s address to the Democratic National Convention, and the newest TV ads in the U.S. House and Senate races…

Chuck Johnson, Sally Mauk, Mike Dennison

Sally Mauk talks with Sheila Krumholz of opensecrets.org about campaign spending…

The non-partisan “Center for Responsive Politics” estimates almost six BILLION dollars will be spent in this election – a record amount. But what most concerns the Center’s Executive Director, Sheila Krumholz, is that we don’t know who is spending a lot of that money. In tonight’s feature interview, Krumholz talks with News Director Sally Mauk about campaign spending in the wake of the Citizens’ United decision…

 

Campaign Beat 8/10/12

In this edition of Campaign Beat, our weekly political analysis program, Lee Newspapers reporter Chuck Johnson and MTPR’s Edward O’Brien discuss, well, the LACK of relevant political news stories from the past week. That said, a few new political advertisements  were released…

Campaign Beat Aug 3 – Sally, Chuck and Mike ponder the new ads and the governor’s political future

Chuck Johnson, Sally Mauk, Mike Dennison

On this edition of “Campaign Beat”, our weekly political analysis program, News Director Sally Mauk talks with Lee newspaper reporters Chuck Johnson and Mike Dennison about the upcoming visit of two Republican political heavyweights, the new ads in the U.S. Senate race, the under-the-radar U.S. House race, and Governor Schweitzer’s political future…

 

Tester supporting bill allowing only American made products to be sold in National Parks

Senator Jon Tester is supporting new legislation which would require all products sold in America’s National Parks be American made.

It’s a small part of an effort to reduce the U.S. Trade deficit with China.

New York Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand introduced the American Parks, American Products Act into the Senate Back in March. The bill reads “The Secretary of the Interior shall ensure that all items offered for sale in any gift shop or visitor’s center located within a unit of the National Park System are produced in the United States.”

It would apply for the National Archives too.

Senator Tester signed on as a co-sponsor at the end of July. He says the bill just makes sense.

“If we’re promoting this country through our parks we ought to promote the businesses who do business in this county,” Tester said.

Many of the souvenirs found in National Park Gift shops come from China. A press release on this bill from Senator Tester points to America’s $273 billion trade deficit with China—about half of the entire trade deficit in the U.S.

“This Act would reference a portion of a one billion dollar industry. Seems like small potatoes, does it not?” I asked Tester.

“Well, it is but I think it also sends a great signal to the businesses and the manufacturers in this country and what it says is we’re going to give you the opportunity to succeed by allowing you to have a market in a place where you’ve got a market but it’s somewhat closed…This isn’t a big thing, it’s certainly not going to turn the trade deficit around with China that’s for sure. But what it will do is create jobs, help create economy and get some money circulating within that economy,” he said.

Representatives from the National Park Service say they cannot comment on pending legislation. And no comment from some of the private stores we called inside the parks, which are generally run by large corporations.

Representatives from Glacier Park Inc, which runs the shops in that park, say they are waiting for more information on the bill before they step into the conversation.

“Some of these, private shops within the National Park, they do thrive on these really cheap easy to obtain trinkets. Do you put them at risk by having to purchase goods that may be more expensive?” I asked.

“I don’t think so,” Tester replied. “To be honest, it’s kind of like the Olympic team wearing uniforms that should have been made in this country, and they weren’t and I think that was a mistake. I think we have the opportunity here because we’ve got a lot of folks that do a lot of incredible items that could be stocked in these stores but they don’t have access to it.”

The American Parks, American Products Act has been referred to committee in the Senate. Another, identical bill is working its way through the House.