By HDN Editorial Board
Once again Gov. Judy Martz has taken an action that should embarrass her.
She appeared at a property rights forum in Fort Benton May 3 that featured former U.S. Rep. Helen Chenoweth-Hage and her husband, Wayne Hage. Chenoweth-Hage, a Republican from Idaho, is a member of the far-right fringe that has unfortunately gained some voice in the national party.
For instance, she's argued that the federal government has been involved in a land grab because it needs help to pay off the federal debt.
"The nation's debt is much greater than has been admitted because of pension plans and other things, and the government has had to secure land as a collateral base for the debt we own. I don't say this in public much, but that's what's happening," she said at a public dinner held two years ago in support of the Jarbidge Shovel Brigade.
Wow. That's just one of the theories of Chenoweth-Hage, a darling of the whacko right.
Why would Gov. Martz appear at a function with such an extremist?
The subject of the meeting was grazing rights in the Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument. Martz has tried to make political hay with the misguided fears of ranchers in the area that the monument will somehow harm their operations.
Chenoweth-Hage used the meeting to stir up those fears. Confrontation and exaggeration, if not downright misinformation, are tactics she's used in the past.
Unbelievably, Martz used the occasion to urge local ranchers to work with the federal government as it prepares a management plan for the monument. If she really feels that way, why would she appear at such a forum.
She should have distanced herself from this event.
This did not go unnoticed by others at the meeting.
"It's the wrong way to go about it," local rancher Hugo Tureck, a former member of the BLM Central Montana Resource Advisory Council, told a reporter.
"How can she say, We have a monument, we need to put together a management plan,' and then be a part of something like this, that is so biased?"