By Jennifer Fielder, Thompson Falls
Last Sunday, when the Missoulian endorsed me for Montana Public Service Commissioner (PSC), their bold headline declared: “Fielder is who PSC needs now.”
The well-reasoned endorsement acknowledged that I “demonstrated a commitment to acting in the best interests of Montana consumers and a willingness to stand up to powerful interests.”
Indeed, I have bucked the flow of big government and my own party at times – including my support for allowing all viable types of energy to compete in the marketplace, and my strong stand against crony capitalism and corruption. Some in party leadership are still very bitter about the latter.
However, the Missoulian recognized my bold streak of independence, describing me as “a fiercely independent thinker and a no-nonsense leader.”
I’m a thoughtful person who carefully analyzes the facts and puts people, not politics, first. I don’t cave-in when the pressure builds. I’ve won awards for defending the rights of the people and protecting our outdoor heritage.
The people who oppose my candidacy don’t care. They are constantly trying to connect me with undue controversy.
For example, I worked extensively on public policy to improve public land management, as well as reduce conflict between ranchers and government agencies. One ranching family, the Bundys, became famous for exercising civil disobedience in protest of excessive government force.
Without a conviction, they were held in prison for two years. Eventually, they were vindicated on every count and released. Ammon Bundy recently joined the Black Lives Matter movement because their plights have remarkable similarities.
Three years ago, his dad and brother told their story at a Town Hall meeting in Paradise, Montana. The local family who organized the meeting invited several guest speakers, including their local Senator who happened to be me.
After I spoke about the public policy work I was doing to reduce such conflicts, the audience stood and applauded — as did the Bundys who were captured in a press photo standing in the background.
Some are using that photo to demonstrate a supposed “affilation” with me and the Bundys. In actuality, I had never met them before, I don’t keep in touch with them and I never participated in any of their protests.
But after the Missoulian endorsed me last week, my opponent’s supporters came unhinged and threatened to put the paper out of business. They cited this supposed “affiliation” with the Bundys as a reason why I should not be supported.
The Missoulian’s editor also felt her colleagues were wrong to choose me. The strange thing is, this editor never met with me and didn’t participate in the vetting process. She never gave me a chance to present my case and certainly never gave me a fair shake.
The other members of the Missoulian Editorial Board — who actually took time to meet with both candidates — rightfully concluded I was the better choice.
Then something extraordinarily unfair happened. After a 20 day vetting period that led to a glowing endorsement in my favor, the Missoulian reversed their position just one day later.
This new decision was not based on new information.
The paper succumbed to the organized opposition and their baseless, politically-charged talking points – none of which hold any real water.
What began as a fair and objective endorsement process morphed into “journalism by political pressure,” aka mob rule.
There isn’t enough room here to address all of the mud the opposition has been slinging. But for anyone interested in the truth, I posted a fact check to address their biggest lies at www.JenniferFielder.com/fact-check.
Make no mistake. As a PSC commissioner, I will fight to ensure we all have reliable low-cost energy, safe communities, a healthy environment, and a strong economy.
The Missoulian got it right in their original, well-reasoned endorsement when they wrote, “[Jennifer Fielder] is the breath of fresh air the commission so badly needs right now.”
Give me the chance, and I will prove them right.