A campaign flyer sent out by the Montana Democratic Party has warned voters that Rep. Kris Hansen, R-Havre, may be putting Social Security at jeopardy.
Hansen and her supporters immediately labeled the leaflet as “ridiculous, ” insisting that the legislature has no control over Social Security, and Hansen wouldn’t vote against Social Security if she could.
“Kristen Hansen and her friends in the state legislature would put our seniors’ future at risk by privatizing the social security our seniors rely on, ” said the Democratic flyer, which includes a blurry photo of Hansen with the caption “Kristen Hansen: Not on your side. Wrong priorities for Montana. ”
The leaflet was mailed to many, but not all, residents of her 33rd District, which includes the city of Havre west of 5th Avenue and western Hill County.
“I think it’s nonsense, ” Hansen said. She said she supports Social Security and wouldn’t renege on the promise made to people that they will receive it when they retire.
“This came out of thin air, ” she said. “As a Montana legislator I have no authority or input on Social Security. ”
But a Democratic spokesman said the allegations are backed by Hansen’s support for “nullification” legislation she supported in the 2011 Legislature.
The bill, sponsored by Rep. Derek Skees, R-Whitefish, now a candidate for state auditor. would allow Montana to nullify federal legislation and edicts that members of a special committee believe overstep constitutional bounds.
The Skees legislation was defeated 42-57 in the House.
The bill “would have allowed a committee to overturn any federal law they wanted, ” said Chris Seager, a spokesman at the party’s Helena headquarters.
He said given the opposition that Hansen and her Republicans showed for social programs and programs for senior citizens in the 2011 legislative session, it is not a stretch to suggest that she would favor privatizing Social Security.
Seager noted that former Rep. Rick Hill, the GOP candidate for governor, was quoted in a 1998 Associated Press story as saying “programs like Social Security and Medicare are crippling America. ”
Hansen said she backed the Skees legislation because she believes our system of government depends on a balance of power between state, federal and local governments and in recent years, the federal government has overstepped its bounds, and states should have the right to review their actions.
“Most Republicans feel that the federal government has taken too much authority, ” she said. “But the legislation made no mention of privatizing Social Security. ”
She said she considered Social Security a promise by the government to people who paid into it over the years.
“If I had the opportunity at the federal level to have some impact on Social Security, I would never vote to break that promise. ”
The Democratic flyer makes no reference to Hansen’s Democratic rival in the Nov. 6 election, Brenda Skornogoski of Havre.
Skornogoski said she knew nothing of the campaign flyer, had not seen it and doesn’t endorse it.
But she has also seen Republican campaign literature that she said carries inaccurate allegations against Democrats.
A leaflet mailed out this week had the pictures of the three Republican legislative candidates from Hill County and county commissioner candidate Debi Rhines and accused Democrats of being for higher taxes.
Skornogoski said that while she is not in favor of tax cuts because she believes in funding education and infrastructure repairs, she does not favor tax increases and knows of no Democrats who do.
(An earlier version of this story indicated that the leaflet mentioned in the next to last paragraph had the pictures of three Democratic legislative candidates. They were the Republican candidates. We apologize.)