HELENA, Mont. (AP) — An attorney for the Montana commissioner of political practices says a state lawmaker received thousands of dollars’ worth of services from corporations that he never reported for his 2010 election campaign.
Special Attorney General Gene Jarussi told jurors Monday that Rep. Art Wittich of Bozeman knew or had to have known what the groups affiliated with the National Right to Work Committee were doing on his behalf.
Wittich is on trial on allegations of coordinating with and accepting unreported contributions from corporations in violation of Montana campaign finance laws.
Wittich attorney Lucinda Luetkemeyer (LUTE’-ka-my-er) responded by telling jurors that Wittich hired a vendor and paid fair-market value for the services he received.
Luetkemeyer called the investigation into him by Commissioner Jonathan Motl a “government overreach horror story.”
No Las Vegas appearances in ranch standoff case
Scheduled court appearances didn’t happen Monday in Las Vegas for two sons of Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy and four other men accused of taking part in an armed confrontation with government agents two years ago.
Bundy family matriarch Carol Bundy said she was told the men were still in federal custody in Portland, Oregon.
Court officials didn’t immediately respond to messages.
Ammon Bundy, Ryan Bundy, Blaine Cooper, Brian Cavalier, Ryan Payne and Peter Santilli are accused of taking part in standoffs at the Bundy ranch in April 2014 and at an Oregon wildlife refuge this year.
They’re among 19 people facing conspiracy, obstruction, weapon and assault on a federal officer charges for stopping a U.S. Bureau of Land Management round-up of Bundy cattle near Bunkerville.
They’re also among 26 people facing federal charges in the Oregon case.
Montana man pleads not guilty to killing woman, stealing car
BOZEMAN, Mont. (AP) — A Montana man has pleaded not guilty to allegations that he broke into his ex-girlfriend’s house, shot her to death and stole her car less than three weeks after he had been served with a court order to stay away from her.
The Bozeman Daily Chronicle reports 35-year-old Anthony Tobias Fagiano pleaded not guilty Monday to deliberate homicide, aggravated burglary, theft and violating an order of protection.
District Judge Holly Brown continued Fagiano’s bail at $1 million in the March 9 death of 37-year-old Darcy Buhmann. Public defender Steven Scott did not oppose the bail amount.
Prosecutors say Fagiano texted his mother, sister and Buhmann’s estranged husband shortly after the shooting. His sister convinced him to surrender to law enforcement.
Brown said Fagiano could not contact any potential witnesses, including some of his family members.
NFL trailblazer to headline Montana’s equal pay summit
HELENA, Mont. (AP) — The first female to hold a coaching position in the National Football League will headline Montana’s next summit on equal pay.
Jennifer Welter — a preseason coaching intern for the Arizona Cardinals last year — is scheduled to give the keynote address at the Equal Pay Summit. The summit is set for May 2-3 at Montana State University in Bozeman.
ESPNW named Welter one of the 25 most influential women in sports in 2015.
Gov. Steve Bullock says the summit will partly focus on promoting leadership, support and education to bring women’s pay in parity with men. Bullock says Montana women make about 67 cents for every dollar made by men.
Bullock established the Equal Pay for Equal Work Task Force in 2013 to help address pay inequities.
Settlement filed in dispute over wind farms injuring birds
GREAT FALLS, Mont. (AP) — A settlement of a lawsuit involving a Montana wind farm and protections for hawks and eagles has been reached.
The Great Falls Tribune reports that windfarm owner NaturEner USA and San Diego Gas & Electric have reached an agreement. A conditional settlement agreement to end litigation was filed Feb. 11 with the California Public Utilities Commission, which still needs to rule on the proposal.
SDG&E agreed to help finance the Rim Rock windfarm and purchase power, but later sued NaturEner, arguing it had been misled about the threat to raptors. NaturEner then filed a breach-of-contract counter suit.
Under the proposed settlement, SDG&E would end a $285 million tax equity investment but would continue to purchase power generated at the wind farm. NaturEner would apply for an eagle take permit, which would authorize the disturbance to raptors.
Attorney: Domestic violence law discriminates against men
BOZEMAN, Mont. (AP) — A Gallatin County prosecutor is appealing a Justice Court ruling that found Montana’s law on domestic violence arrests discriminates against men.
On March 18, Justice of the Peace Rick West dismissed a misdemeanor partner family member assault charge against a Big Sky man after the man’s attorney argued the state law is unconstitutional.
The law states that when officers respond to what may have been “mutual aggression,” the officer can evaluate the situation to determine the predominant aggressor. Criteria include prior history, severity of the injuries, the relative sizes and apparent strength of each person and their apparent fear of each other.
The Bozeman Daily Chronicle reports West agreed with attorney Al Avignone that the size and strength and fear issues predispose officers to arrest the man involved.
Justice Court does not set precedent and the law remains in place.
Coroner identifies 2 found dead in apparent murder-suicide
BUTTE, Mont. (AP) — The names of the two people found dead in an apparent murder-suicide at a home outside of Butte have been released.
The Montana Standard reports that Coroner Lee Labreche says 70-year-old Larry Farrell and his 48-year-old wife, Michelle “Rae” Farrell, were found dead in the Ramsay home Friday. Both died of gunshot wounds.
Autopsies on the couple will be performed Monday.
Officers had gone to the home on Friday after someone alerted police that she was unable to contact her female friend.
Police say they are not ready to release any further details in the case.