By Ron VandenBoom
Mark O'Keefe, Democratic candidate for governor, says accusations made by his Republican opponent, Lt. Gov. Judy Martz, accusing him of lying are hog wash.
Martz said in an interview Sunday that O'Keefe had lied before the campaign ever began about her spying on his home, taking pictures of his home, and obtaining plans of his home.
"And he knew darned well that I didn't and he has never apologized," she said.
O'Keefe responded Monday saying that the accusation is "just flat out false" and that he never accused her of spying on the home.
"It's absolutely hog wash," he said.
O'Keefe was also upset over comments Martz made about Franklin and Associates, a Virginia-based equity capital firm that O'Keefe says he sold on the idea of doing business in Montana.
The firm, Okeefe announced on Oct. 10, plans on launching a $50 million development fund to boost Montana's high-tech sector and provide start-up firms with seed capital to create clean, good-paying jobs.
Martz said she believes O'Keefe is misleading people in Montana and after doing some checking on her own said Franklin and Associates has three employees and operates out of a townhouse in Annandale, Va. She claims its gross earnings last year were $190,000.
O'Keefe responded saying Martz doesn't know what she's talking about.
O'Keefe said Franklin and Associates has started over 190 businesses and has worked with even some Fortune 100 companies.
Jim Franklin and Jon Kuennen are the two principal figures in the company. Kuennen is a Montana native and graduate of the University of Montana who has worked with the International Trade Center at the university. The firm has been in existence since 1996.
Their goal is to develop a $50 million fund to provide entrepreneurs with capital to build successful businesses and investors with high investment returns.
O'Keefe said Martz is casting dispersions without having done her homework. By doing so, he said, she is putting the entire project at risk.
"These are nothing but false assertions," O'Keefe said, adding that Franklin and Associates have been working in Montana since May 18.
O'Keefe said that his efforts regarding Franklin and Associates is exactly the kind of effort the Racicot administration should have been putting into economic development all along.
"Martz is threatening our economic future and this is exactly what Montana doesn't need," he said.
O'Keefe elaborated on the issue of jobs and Montana's economic future by saying she is unprepared for the job of Governor.
He used as an example a Oct. 13 DEQ (Department of Environmental Quality) memo from 12 key staffers that said they were demoralized and frustrated because a ruling by a district judge effectively blocked $38.5 million in highway construction projects and jeopardized $100 million more.
O'Keefe said Martz's lack of leadership is responsible for holding up construction projects and jeopardizing high-paying jobs.
"Judy Martz knew the dire consequences of not dealing with the problems in this agency," O'Keefe said.
O'Keefe said Martz's economic development plans are a mystery right now because, "she won't release her plans and doesn't say how she is going to do it."
Education is the key to economic development, O'Keefe said, adding that all of the corporate CEOs he has spoke to tell him the same thing.
"Judy ignores all these facts," O'Keefe said. "She's living in a fantasy world."
O'Keefe said Martz has become desperate during the last 15 days of the campaign and reverted to name calling.
"I'm going to stick to the issues," he said.