Friday, Feb. 12, was a dark day. On a 30-19 vote, the Montana Senate voted not to confirm Margie Campbell, a former legislative colleague, to complete her four-year term on the Montana Human Rights Commission. She was appointed by Gov. Bullock after the 2019 session adjourned, so required Senate confirmation this session. The sponsor of the resolution to confirm her, SR 17, asked his colleagues, at the hearing, to vote "no," as requested by Montana's newly minted Gov. Gianforte. The Senate obliged.
Until the Senate voted her out, Commissioner Campbell was the only Native American voice on the Human Rights Commission. She served three terms in the House of Representatives, in 2005, 2007 and 2009. She currently serves as chief diversity officer at MSU Northern. She holds a doctorate in education. Her qualifications are unmatched and impeccable. By law, the new governor already gets a majority of appointments to the five-member Commission, and the Senate confirmed those three appointments on the very day it denied Commissioner Campbell the right to serve the remainder of her four-year term.
More offensive yet, our new governor was waiting in the wings for the Montana Senate to do his bidding. On the same dark day it rejected Commissioner Campbell, the Senate requested a resolution be drafted to fill her seat.
These actions affirm that the days of working across the aisle, deferring to interim appointments by an outgoing governor, respecting former colleagues, and searching for qualified appointments to serve on our boards and commissions are out the window. I had hopes Montana was better than this. My hopes are shattered.