Missoula Mayor and State Representative Spar Over Governor’s Use of State Plane
Montana state representative Brad Tschida (HD 97) is trying to draw attention to Governor Steve Bullock’s use of a Beechcraft King Air plane. Tschida says the governor should save taxpayers money and drive to events in areas like Butte and Missoula that are within a two hour radius, rather than use a plane with a cost that he estimates at more than $1,000 per hour. Furthermore, Tschida says the governor has been using the plane for campaign purposes.
"The governor is using the plane for state business and for campaign purposes," Tschida said. "It seems to me a very legitimate request of us to him, to declare the use of the plane, at least 50 percent or whatever percentage is reasonable, as an in-kind donation to his campaign from the state of Montana."
An opinion piece by Tschida titled “Let’s hold bullock accountable” appeared in papers across Montana last Friday. On Monday, Missoula Mayor John Engen responded to Tschida in a piece in the Missoulian titled “Bullock is doing his job for the citizens,” in which he says that Tschida’s argument is “clichéd and desperate.” Tschida accuses Engen of “taking the low road.”
"When he refers to me using words that I didn't use such as 'bilking the public,' or referring to the governor a 'liar,' neither one of those were used in the commentary," Tschida said. "What I would mention to the good mayor is that his responsibility as a leader is to set an example and to set the tone. It's unfortunate that he chose to take the lower road, but that's his choice to make."
The state plane has been at issue many times in the past, and charges have been leveled against both republican and democratic governors for misuse of the plane. Tschida says that he and others are investigating sending a complaint about bullock to the commissioner of political practices.