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Articles written by Matt Volz Associated Press

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  • 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...

  • Sen. Walsh cancels events; campaign mum on race

    MATT VOLZ Associated Press|Updated Aug 6, 2014

    HELENA — Sen. John Walsh of Montana on Tuesday postponed at least two upcoming events as his campaign declined to answer questions about whether he planned to remain in the U.S. Senate race amid allegations that he plagiarized a research paper. The Walsh campaign notified Gallatin County Democratic party members that he would not attend a backyard meet-and-greet in Bozeman hosted by Women for Walsh that was scheduled for Wednesday or a Friday talk on public lands at the county party's new headquarters. The campaign did not gi... Full story

  • Defense Department to oversee plagiarism probe

    MATT VOLZ Associated Press|Updated Jul 29, 2014

    HELENA — The Department of Defense has taken the unusual step of overseeing a plagiarism investigation being conducted by the U.S. Army War College against Sen. John Walsh of Montana, the college's provost said Tuesday. Defense Department officials told the Carlisle, Pennsylvania, college that the department's inspector general's office will decide whether any discipline is warranted based on the recommendations of the school's academic review board, Provost Lance Betros said. Normally, that decision is reserved for the s... Full story

  • Judge Baugh: Suspension over remarks unwarranted

    MATT VOLZ Associated Press|Updated Jun 29, 2014

    HELENA (AP) — A judge facing suspension for saying a 14-year-old rape victim appeared "older than her chronological age" says he believes the penalty isn't warranted. Judge G. Todd Baugh (baw) of Billings proposed Friday in a written response to the Montana Supreme Court that it withdraw its order for a 31-day suspension. But he added he won't remove the consent to judicial discipline he previously gave. Baugh says he found no other cases in which the Supreme Court went beyond the recommendations from the state Judicial S... Full story

  • Panel drops plan to hire consultant on EPA rules

    MATT VOLZ Associated Press|Updated Jun 17, 2014

    HELENA (AP) — Montana utility regulators dropped a proposal Tuesday to spend $3,000 to hire a former University of Montana law professor known for his conservative views to point out any constitutional problems with proposed federal regulations to reduce carbon dioxide pollution from power plants. Public Service Commission member Roger Koopman said he believes the proposed Environmental Protection Agency regulations are an overreach of federal power, but he doesn't specifically know how. Robert Natelson, who specializes in c... Full story

  • NorthWestern gets OK for 6.4 percent rate hike

    MATT VOLZ Associated Press|Updated Jun 17, 2014

    HELENA — Montana utility regulators on Tuesday approved a NorthWestern Energy request to boost electricity rates by 6.44 percent starting July 1 so the company can recover $32 million in underestimated supply costs. Public Service Commission members said it is an interim increase and whether it remains will be contingent on further study. The money can be returned if commissioners find the increase wasn't justified, commissioners said. NorthWestern officials say the company's rates don't reflect actual market costs over t... Full story

  • Parole board rejects Barry Beach's clemency bid

    MATT VOLZ Associated Press|Updated Jun 11, 2014

    HELENA (AP) — Montana's parole board on Wednesday rejected a clemency application from Barry Beach, meaning he will continue to serve a 100-year prison sentence for the 1979 slaying of a high-school classmate on the Fort Peck Indian Reservation. The decision from the Montana Board of Pardons and Parole marked the fourth time since 1994 that the panel has declined to hold a full clemency hearing for Beach. Beach has argued police in Louisiana coerced the 1983 confession used to convict him in the beating death of 1... Full story

  • Sen. John Walsh vs. Rep. Steve Daines in November

    MATT VOLZ Associated Press|Updated Jun 3, 2014

    HELENA — Montana voters set the stage Tuesday for a November election that will determine whether a U.S. Senate seat that has been in Democratic hands for a century will stay there after the resignation of six-term Sen. Max Baucus. U.S. Rep. Steve Daines is leaving his House seat to challenge incumbent Sen. John Walsh, who was appointed in February to replace Baucus. Both easily won their primary elections Tuesday. The GOP sees Daines as the best chance to win back a seat it hasn't held since 1907. "This would be historic f... Full story

  • Frustration grows over $3.4B settlement delay

    MATT VOLZ Associated Press|Updated May 18, 2014

    HELENA — Laura Juarez is supposed to receive close to $1,200 as her share of a $3.4 billion settlement among hundreds of thousands of Native Americans whose land-trust royalties were mismanaged by the government for more than a century. The Bakersfield, California, notary public was going to pool that money with her husband's share, along with a portion of what was coming to her father's estate, to send her 17-year-old daughter to a student-ambassador program in Australia. But the money, which she expected in December, s... Full story

  • State senator released after Blackfeet arrest

    MATT VOLZ Associated Press|Updated May 18, 2014

    HELENA — Tribal law-enforcement officers Friday arrested a state senator and Blackfeet leader accused of not complying with the terms of a plea agreement for drunken driving, a charge he has called false and politically motivated. Sen. Shannon Augare was found in a home east of Browning on Friday afternoon after two weeks of avoiding arrest, Blackfeet Tribal Business Council member Paul McEvers said. The arrest was made because Augare did not pay his fine after pleading guilty to driving drunk and then fleeing a Glacier C... Full story

  • Parole board reviews Beach's clemency request

    MATT VOLZ Associated Press|Updated Apr 29, 2014

    DEER LODGE - Montana's parole board has the chance to correct a mistake made when Barry Beach was sentenced to 100 years in prison without parole in the 1979 beating death of a high school classmate, his attorneys said Tuesday. Science and the courts had not yet realized that a juvenile criminal had capacity to change when Beach was convicted in 1984, attorney Terry Toavs told three members of the Montana Board of Pardons and Parole in a hearing in Deer Lodge. Beach and the... Full story

  • Nuns ask to bring diocese back to Montana court

    MATT VOLZ Associated Press|Updated Apr 22, 2014

    HELENA — An order of nuns facing child sex abuse lawsuits wants to bring the Roman Catholic Diocese of Helena back into state court, saying the diocese should have to pay part of any judgment against the Ursuline Sisters of the Western Province. Attorneys for the Ursulines are asking a judge to lift a stay in legal proceedings that was granted to the diocese when it filed for federal bankruptcy protection earlier this year. A total of 362 people have sued the Ursulines and the diocese, alleging they were abused as children f... Full story

  • Court rejects attempt to alter initiative wording

    MATT VOLZ Associated Press|Updated Apr 17, 2014

    HELENA — The Montana Supreme Court on Thursday rejected an attempt by opponents of Medicaid expansion and Attorney General Tim Fox to rewrite the language of a proposed ballot initiative and void all the signed petitions that backers have gathered to date. The justices said in a unanimous decision that delaying signature-gathering for further court proceedings would have the effect of ruling for the plaintiffs because the sponsors have only until June 20 to gather 24,175 voter signatures to place Initiative 70 on N... Full story

  • Commissioner: Senate leader broke campaign laws

    MATT VOLZ Associated Press|Updated Apr 1, 2014

    HELENA — The Montana commissioner of political practices said Tuesday that Senate Majority Leader Art Wittich broke state campaign laws by coordinating with and failing to report contributions from a conservative group during his 2010 primary election campaign. Commissioner Jonathan Motl said he intends to have a judge weigh his findings and decide whether Wittich's actions merit removal from the 2014 election ballot. "That would be the big penalty," Motl said. "Is this significant enough to establish a public trust v...

  • Author Jon Krakauer seeks football rape case info

    MATT VOLZ Associated Press|Updated Mar 14, 2014

    HELENA (AP) — Author Jon Krakauer is asking a judge to order the release of records in the 2012 rape case against University of Montana quarterback Jordan Johnson. Krakauer attorney Mike Meloy says in a petition filed Feb. 12 that the "Into the Wild" author is working on a new book that deals in part with how the university and the commissioner of higher education resolved a student complaint of sexual assault against Johnson. Krakauer is seeking records concerning any actions the commissioner's office took in 2012 f... Full story

  • Groups allege illegal coordination by Zinke

    MATT VOLZ Associated Press|Updated Mar 5, 2014

    HELENA — Two Washington, D.C.-based advocacy groups have filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission accusing a U.S. House candidate in Montana of illegally coordinating with the political-action committee he created. The Campaign Legal Center and Democracy 21 allege television advertisements by Special Forces for America PAC that support Ryan Zinke's House bid include photographs that appear to come from the Zinke campaign. The groups say republishing campaign materials is an in-kind contribution that federal l...

  • Attorney submits US Senate vacancy initiative

    MATT VOLZ Associated Press|Updated Mar 4, 2014

    HELENA (AP) — A Helena attorney submitted a ballot initiative proposal Tuesday that would change Montana law to take away the governor's power to fill U.S. Senate vacancies and instead require special elections. The process was in the spotlight last month when Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock named his lieutenant governor, John Walsh, to replace longtime U.S. Sen. Max Baucus. Republican legislative leaders criticized Bullock's selection, saying it was done in secrecy and with no input from the public. The proposal by attorney J... Full story

  • Group seeks to make it harder to substitute judges

    MATT VOLZ Associated Press|Updated Feb 23, 2014

    HELENA — The Montana Judges Association wants to make it more difficult for people with cases before district courts to substitute one judge for another simply by filing a statement that they believe the judge would not be fair or impartial. The Copper King-era rule was enacted in 1903 to guard against judicial corruption but it has led to abuse in modern times, with 1,188 judicial substitutions from 2011 to 2012, the association's petition to the Montana Supreme Court said. Some attorneys have used the rule in an attempt t... Full story

  • Zinke reaps benefits of super PAC he founded

    MATT VOLZ Associated Press|Updated Feb 16, 2014

    HELENA — A U.S. House candidate in Montana is benefiting from a political action committee he created, leading at least one opponent and some experts to question the legality of the peculiar arrangement. Ryan Zinke, a former Navy SEAL who is seeking the Republican nomination for Montana's lone congressional seat, created the Special Operations for America (SOFA) super PAC to back Mitt Romney's 2012 presidential campaign. The committee now backs candidates who support the military — and their first candidate is Zinke, a 52-... Full story

  • Governor says Senate pick was his decision alone

    MATT VOLZ Associated Press|Updated Feb 14, 2014

    HELENA - Gov. Steve Bullock said Friday he told Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid it was "none of your damn business" who the Democratic governor appointed to fill Montana's vacant U.S. Senate seat. Refuting claims by state Republican Party officials that his appointment of John Walsh last week was a ploy to give Democrats an advantage in retaining the seat in November's election, Bullock said he spoke with no other senators, White House officials or political party... Full story

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