HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Recent gubernatorial candidate Greg Gianforte plans to seek the Republican nomination in a special election for Montana’s U.S. House seat.
GOP Chairman Jeff Essmann says the Bozeman businessman paid his $1,740 filing fee on Wednesday.
Gianforte joins four other Republicans who have paid that fee to be considered in a special nominating convention after U.S. Rep. Ryan Zinke vacates his seat. Democrats will hold their own convention to select a candidate.
Zinke is expected to be confirmed as President Donald Trump’s Interior secretary.
Gianforte did not immediately return a call for comment.
He lost in his first run for office in November to Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock.
The four others who have paid the GOP’s filing fee are state Sen. Ed Buttrey, former Sen. Ken Miller, 2014 U.S. House candidate Drew Turiano and Missoula contractor Dean Rehbein.
Anheuser-Busch, Miller Coors to cut Montana barley contracts
GREAT FALLS, Mont. (AP) — Montana’s struggling agricultural economy has taken another hit following the decision by two of the state’s largest buyers of barley to reduce the number of contracts they offer to growers by as much as 60 percent.
The Great Falls Tribune reported Wednesday that Anheuser-Busch and MillerCoors informed barley growers this year that they will only be purchasing a fraction of the malt barley they have in recent years.
The two brewing giants say the decision was brought on by an overabundance of barley available in the global market.
The companies account for the purchase of nearly two-thirds of the barley grown in northcentral Montana.
Officials from the Montana Wheat and Barley Committee expect bid reductions to drop between 20 and 60 percent, resulting in a possible loss of more than $65 million in revenue.
Montana woman admits to taking $1.5M in pyramid scheme case
KALISPELL, Mont. (AP) — A northwestern Montana woman charged with operating a Ponzi scheme that scammed dozens of investors out of more than $1.5 million has changed her plea in the case.
The Flathead Beacon reports that Catherine Ann Finberg pleaded no contest Wednesday to theft by embezzlement and guilty to operating a pyramid scheme and fraudulent securities practices. As part of a plea deal, prosecutors dropped two additional charges.
The Columbia Falls woman initially denied all the charges by pleading not guilty in September.
Court documents say Finberg operated a Ponzi scheme, using money from new investors to make payments to earlier investors, between 2008 and 2016.
She’s accused of taking $1.5 million from 28 different people.
At least four of the investors were identified as vulnerable persons because of their age and one was mentally disabled.
APNewsBreak: Montana temporarily blocks bison slaughters
BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Montana Gov. Steve Bullock has blocked the impending slaughter of hundreds of Yellowstone National Park bison over disease concerns until a temporary home can be found for 40 animals wanted by an American Indian tribe.
Bullock prohibited the transfer of any Yellowstone bison to slaughter in a letter to park officials obtained Wednesday by The Associated Press. The January 19 letter cited an executive order and was not previously publicized.
About 200 bison have been captured attempting to migrate from the park this winter. Federal and state officials have plans to kill up to 1,300 bison under a controversial disease control agreement.
Yellowstone Superintendent Dan Wenk said the 40 animals wanted by Montana’s Fort Peck tribes faced possible slaughter because the park needs to clear space at the facility where they’re being held.
Idaho man shot to death in northwestern Montana
KALISPELL, Mont. (AP) — An autopsy found an Idaho man whose body was found in northwestern Montana last week was shot to death.
Lincoln County Sheriff Roby Bowe says the death of 31-year-old Travis Jay “T.J.” Gillett is being investigated as a homicide, but officers don’t have any suspects.
Gillett had been reported missing on Jan. 16 and officials found his body in the Yaak Valley the same day. It was recovered with the help of a search and rescue team.
An autopsy determined he had been shot multiple times, the Flathead Beacon (bit.ly/2j6bnbZ) reported Wednesday.
Bowe said the person who reported Gillett missing said he had left Sandpoint, Idaho, on Jan. 13 with someone from Thompson Falls to make a delivery somewhere in the Yaak Valley. The caller reported Gillett had not returned the next day as expected.
Panel changes bill to restrict release of mug shots
HELENA, Mont. (AP) — A panel of Montana lawmakers has taken a bill making mug shots public information and amended it to do the opposite.
The House Judiciary Committee changed the bill Wednesday to bar the release of booking photographs until a person is convicted of a crime, with exceptions.
Committee Chairman Alan Doane says he believes releasing booking photos at the time of arrest goes against the concept that a person is innocent until proven guilty. The Bloomfield Republican compared it to another bill that aims to protect victims of so-called “revenge porn.”
The panel tabled the bill to give interested parties that chance to weigh in on the change.
The bill’s sponsor, Republican Rep. Frank Garner of Kalispell says the original measure had the support of both law enforcement and news media. He says he doesn’t support the change.