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Articles written by Matt Volz

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  • Montana House race contrast: Navy SEAL vs longtime educator

    Matt Volz|Updated Oct 27, 2016

    MATTHEW BROWN Associated Press BILLINGS - A decorated combat veteran warning about the threat of ISIS in America is being challenged for his U.S. House seat by a longtime educator who would become the first American Indian woman in Congress. The race between Republican Ryan Zinke and Democrat Denise Juneau for Montana's only House seat reflects a broader divide playing out nationwide between Republicans focusing on foreign threats and Democrats honing in on domestic issues...

  • Montana official calls election rigging a conspiracy theory

    Matt Volz|Updated Oct 27, 2016

    MATT VOLZ Associated Press HELENA - The idea that next month's elections could be rigged is a conspiracy theory comparable to the U.S. government hiding aliens in Rowell, New Mexico, Elvis Presley faking his death or the 1969 moon landing being a hoax, Montana's secretary of state said Wednesday. Secretary of State Linda McCulloch, a Democrat, sought to reassure voters that the state's elections won't be compromised after reports of stolen absentee ballots and people offering...

  • National group spends $528K to defeat brain research measure

    MATT VOLZ|Updated Oct 26, 2016

    HELENA, Mont. (AP) — The National Education Association is spending $528,000 to defeat a Montana ballot initiative that would authorize the state to issue $200 million in bonds over the next decade for research into brain injuries and illnesses. The Oct. 5 and Oct. 19 contributions to the anti-Initiative 181 ballot committee Montanans for Fiscal Responsibility allows the committee to buy television and radio ads, and send mail to voters urging them to reject the measure. The ballot committee had only $600 in the bank prior t...

  • GOP candidate sinks $5.1M into Montana governor's race

    Matt Volz|Updated Oct 26, 2016

    Matt Volz Associated Press HELENA — Bozeman businessman Greg Gianforte has now spent more than $5.1 million of his own money to fuel his campaign against Montana Gov. Steve Bullock, while the Bullock-backing Democratic Governors Association poured in another $1.5 million into one of the closest governor’s races in the nation. The candidates and political action committees turned in campaign finance reports Monday that detail their contributions and spending between Sept. 27 and Oct. 19. The reports show a governor’s race...

  • Crow and Montana settle dispute over taxing tribal coal

    Matt Volz, Associated Press|Updated Oct 24, 2016

    HELENA — The Crow Nation and the state have settled nearly four decades of litigation over whether Montana can tax coal owned by the tribe, with the state to pay $15 million if the tribe gives up claims on past taxes collected. The dispute, which began in the 1970s, is over land near the Crow reservation in southeastern Montana that the tribe ceded to the U.S. more than a century ago. The tribe still owns the mineral rights to the coal-rich land, where the Westmoreland Coal Company leases the reserves and produces an average...

  • Secretary of state: Voters should handle ballots themselves

    Matt Volz, Associated Press|Updated Oct 24, 2016

    HELENA — Montana’s secretary of state, responding to complaints of people offering to deliver voters’ absentee ballots for them, said Friday that residents should mail in or hand their ballots directly to their election office unless they know and trust the people who are handling them. Secretary of State Linda McCulloch’s comments come after voters in at least three counties reported that people offered to deliver their absentee ballots for them, and after remarks by Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump that th...

  • Dinosaurs roar into Montana governor's race with new ad

    Matt Volz|Updated Oct 20, 2016

    HELENA — Dinosaurs have roared into Montana’s race for governor with a renowned paleontologist who consulted with Steven Spielberg on the “Jurassic Park” movies saying the Republican candidate would spend taxpayer money on private schools that teach creationism and mislead children about how old the Earth is. A new television ad features former Montana State University paleontologist Jack Horner saying candidate Greg Gianforte thinks the Earth is only a few thousand years old. Horner says Gianforte supports using taxpaye...

  • Libertarian candidate Mike Fellows killed in car crash

    MATT VOLZ, Associated Press|Updated Sep 21, 2016

    HELENA — Mike Fellows, the state Libertarian Party chairman who was making his eighth run for Montana’s U.S. House seat, died in a car crash, authorities said Tuesday. Fellows, 59, was in a head-on collision with another vehicle on Montana Highway 200 Monday night as he was returning home to Missoula after a campaign event in Seeley Lake, Missoula County Undersheriff Jason Johnson said in a statement. Fellows, who has run unsuccessfully for a statewide office every election since 1998, was a long-shot candidate again thi...

  • Judge rejects tribal immunity in Plain Green case

    Matt Volz|Updated May 22, 2016

    HELENA (AP) — A federal judge in Vermont has rejected Montana tribal officials' claims of sovereign immunity and said that he will hear a civil case alleging the tribe's online payday lending company illegally preys on poor borrowers. U.S. District Judge Geoffrey Crawford's order Wednesday to proceed with the lawsuit against Plain Green LLC's leaders and non-Native American backers is a setback for lenders who use tribal sovereign immunity to offer high-interest short-term loans in states with laws that bar or cap such l...

  • Encore, ex-partner in Rocky Boy lending company, is indicted

    MATT VOLZ|Updated Apr 12, 2016

    HELENA (AP) — A grand jury has charged a former business partner of Montana's Chippewa Cree Tribe with conspiring with tribal officials to skim millions of dollars from the Rocky Boy Indian Reservation's successful online payday lending company. Encore Services of Henderson, Nevada, and its president, Zachary Roberts, are accused of taking $3.5 million from the tribe through a fraudulent contract, and kicking back $1.2 million of that money to the officials who made the corrupt deal, federal prosecutors said. Encore and Rober... Full story

  • Jury: Wittich coordinated with dark-money group

    MATT VOLZ|Updated Apr 2, 2016

    HELENA . (AP) — A jury found Friday that a Montana lawmaker coordinated with and received services from conservative corporate groups in violation of state campaign laws, a ruling that could lead to his removal from office. Rep. Art Wittich, R-Bozeman, took $19,500 worth in-kind contributions that he didn't disclose from organizations affiliated with the National Right to Work Committee during his 2010 re-election campaign, the jury found. The contributions included campaign consulting, direct mail and voter and f... Full story

  • Federal health officials OK Montana Medicaid waiver

    MATT VOLZ|Updated Nov 2, 2015

    HELENA — Montana will become the 30th state to expand its Medicaid program after federal health officials on Monday approved provisions that include requiring beneficiaries to pay premiums that amount to 2 percent of their income. Gov. Steve Bullock announced the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services' approval of the federal waiver needed for state officials to start enrollment immediately and begin coverage on Jan. 1. "I am pleased to stand before you today to say that for over 70,000 Montanans, the wait is finally o...

  • Juneau may challenge Zinke for House seat

    MATT VOLZ, Associated Press|Updated Oct 22, 2015

    HELENA — Superintendent of Public Instruction Denise Juneau is considering challenging U.S. Rep. Ryan Zinke for Montana's U.S. House seat next year, a spokeswoman for the Democrat said Wednesday. Juneau, 48, has been the state's public schools superintendent since 2009 and is the first female Native American elected to statewide office in Montana. "Denise is seriously considering a run for office because she sees an opportunity to bring a Montana work ethic and her record of getting things done to the U.S. House," s...

  • Rocky Boy probe to expand to Nevada

    MATT VOLZ|Updated Aug 29, 2015

    HELENA (AP) — A criminal investigation into the former leaders of the Chippewa Cree Tribe's online lending operations now includes a Nevada company the tribe partnered with in its first attempt to offer payday loans. The tribe and the leaders of that company, Henderson-based Encore Services LLC, formed First American Capital Resources in 2010. That lending company never succeeded and was overtaken by a second company called Plain Green. The tribe is now suing Encore and its leaders, Zachary Roberts, Richard Lee Broome, G...

  • Man accused of shooting family recently released from jai

    l MATT VOLZ|Updated Aug 1, 2015

    HELENA (AP) - An 18-year-old man accused of shooting a family that stopped to help him on a Montana roadside was released from a Wyoming jail two weeks earlier while facing unrelated burglary and drug charges, a court official said Friday. Jesus Deniz, also known as Jesus Deniz Mendoza, made his first court appearance Friday on a murder warrant in U.S. District Court in Billings. The Worland, Wyoming, man is accused in the shooting deaths of Jason Shane, 41, and his wife,...

  • Tourists worried about fire nix Glacier National Park trips

    MATT VOLZ|Updated Jul 25, 2015

    HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Hotels and campgrounds in Glacier National Park are flooded with calls from worried tourists canceling their reservations or asking whether the Montana landmark will stay open as a wildfire sweeps through a popular part of the park. Hotel owners are trying to talk callers out of changing their plans, while Glacier officials emphasized that only a small part of the 1,718-square-mile park is closed as the flames chew though parched conifer-topped ridges on its eastern side. The blaze has shut down nearly h...

  • Plain Green officers claim tribal immunity from lawsuits

    Matt Volz|Updated Jul 16, 2015

    HELENA (AP) — Three leaders of an online lending company owned by Montana's Chippewa Cree Tribe are claiming tribal immunity in asking a Vermont judge to dismiss a lawsuit that alleges they are predatory lenders who are breaking federal and state laws. Plain Green CEO Joel Rosette and board members Ted Whitford and Tim McInerney said in their request filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Vermont that the judge should order the case to arbitration if he decides not to dismiss it outright. Plain Green is one of a growing n...

  • Shad Huston hit with more charges in Rocky Boy probeprobe

    Matt Volz|Updated Jun 24, 2015

    HELENA (AP) — A new criminal indictment charges a businessman with bribing the head of the Chippewa Cree tribe's roads department and overcharging for the work his company did as part of a $10.6 million federal stimulus grant to the tribe. The federal grand jury indictment unsealed Tuesday charges Shad Huston, of Havre, with bribery, wire fraud, false claims conspiracy and false claims against a federally funded project. Those come on top of charges in three other pending cases accusing Huston of embezzlement conspiracy, b...

  • Feds expand review of Chippewa Cree aid mismanagement

    MATT VOLZ|Updated Jun 23, 2015

    HELENA, (AP) — U.S. government auditors are expanding their review of federal disaster aid mismanagement by the Chippewa Cree Tribe after finding fraud, waste and abuse in a project to demolish the Montana tribe's health clinic that was destroyed by flooding in 2010. The Department of Homeland Security's inspector general's office recommended the Federal Emergency Management Agency deny the tribe's $3.9 million claim for the clinic's demolition, and the auditors now plan to examine all $31.6 million FEMA awarded the tribe a...

  • Tester, Bullock lend star power in final push

    MATT VOLZ Associated Press|Updated Nov 2, 2014

    HELENA — U.S. Senate candidate Amanda Curtis hasn't had much time to introduce herself to Montana voters since becoming the Democratic nominee in August, but she's getting a boost from the party's biggest names in the final days before Tuesday's election. U.S. Sen. Jon Tester and Gov. Steve Bullock joined Curtis and Democratic U.S. House candidate John Lewis on a tour of the state that hit 17 towns and cities starting Thursday and ending Sunday. On Saturday, they started their day in Helena at a rally attended by about 75 p... Full story

  • Colleague questions candidate's skills for court

    MATT VOLZ Associated Press|Updated Oct 25, 2014

    HELENA — A former co-worker of Montana Supreme Court candidate Lawrence VanDyke is questioning whether the ex-solicitor general has the experience and temperament for a seat on the state's highest court. Montana Department of Justice Civil Division Bureau Chief Mike Black told The Associated Press he decided to publicly campaign against VanDyke after working with him during his 1 1/2 years as Republican Attorney General Tim Fox's solicitor general. "My primary reason has nothing to do with his politics," Black said. "It has t... Full story

  • Lawsuit slams ex-Plain Green execs

    MATT VOLZ Associated Press|Updated Sep 9, 2014

    Correction: HELENA (AP) — In a story Sept. 8 about tribal payday lending, The Associated Press reported erroneously how much revenue from the Chippewa Cree tribe's online lending company was received by three tribal members. It was 7 percent, not more than a third. A corrected version of the story is below: HELENA — The Chippewa Cree tribe's former health director and two former leaders of a tribe-owned online payday loan company secretly received 7 percent of the revenues of the company that has made $25 million since 201... Full story

  • Judge rejects Senate leader's conspiracy claims

    MATT VOLZ Associated Press|Updated Aug 27, 2014

    HELENA (AP) — A Helena judge has dismissed claims by the Montana Senate majority leader that the governor, a state senator and two commissioners of political practices conspired to drive him out of office. Sen. Art Wittich, R-Bozeman, made the claims while defending himself against a civil lawsuit by Commissioner of Political Practices Jonathan Motl alleging Wittich violated campaign laws by coordinating with and taking illegal corporate contributions from the secretive conservative group Western Tradition Partnership. W... Full story

  • Dems tap Curtis for senate seat

    MATT VOLZ Associated Press|Updated Aug 16, 2014

    HELENA (AP) - Montana Democrats selected a little-known state legislator named Amanda Curtis as their candidate for the U.S. Senate race after Sen. John Walsh dropped out amid plagiarism allegations from his time at the U.S. Army War College. Curtis, a first-term representative from Butte, now faces the challenge of introducing herself to Montana voters and making her case for them to choose her over well-funded Republican Rep. Steve Daines with less than three months until th... Full story

  • Walsh mum on whether he's leaving race

    MATT VOLZ Associated Press|Updated Aug 6, 2014

    HELENA (AP) — Sen. John Walsh was taking personal time at his Helena home as his campaign canceled events and avoided questions about whether the Montana Democrat plans to remain in the U.S. Senate race amid allegations that he plagiarized a research paper. Walsh was scheduled to be at a Jackson, Wyoming, fundraiser Tuesday with Colorado Sen. Mark Udall, but did not attend. His campaign also notified Gallatin County Democratic party members that the senator would not appear at a backyard meet-and-greet in Bozeman hosted by W...

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