Representative Rehberg talks about his fire department lawsuit at firefighters’ meeting

Representative Denny Rehberg (R-MT) made a hastily scheduled appearance at the Montana State Fireman’s Association annual convention in Billings, MT on Tuesday. In an attempt to make nice with firefighters, his remarks included a defense of the lawsuit he has filed against the Billings Fire Department over the strategy used on a wildfire in 2008 that burned some of his property. Rehberg is asking for cash from the city of Billings for the loss of vegetation on his property.

Here is an excerpt from the Billings Gazette about the event:

Rehberg asked to address the firefighters’ convention after the lawsuit took a political turn and Rehberg came under attack from his Democratic opponent, Dennis McDonald of Melville. Wearing a Melville Volunteer Fire Department cap, McDonald stood in the back of the room and smiled as Rehberg said the lawsuit had become politicized for McDonald’s gain.

“I apologize that this has become a political issue,” Rehberg said. “Welcome to my world, because everything I say, everything I do, every action that I take ends up being in a political scene when you’ve got a campaign and you’ve got candidates that are willing to say and do anything to win an election.”

Rehberg addressed the lawsuit for a few minutes and then switched to the state of the economy and his view of the difference between Republicans and Democrats. After he finished speaking, Rehberg met privately for 30 minutes with the leadership of Local 521, the union that represents Billings firefighters.

Neither Rehberg nor Local 521 leadership would comment about what was said in the closed-door meeting.

Rehberg’s appearance at the convention wasn’t planned well in advance, but he apparently met with some of the firefighters at a social event Monday night, and last week he asked convention organizers for the chance to speak. The press wasn’t notified in advance of the speech, and even some Rehberg staffers seemed caught off guard by his appearance at the convention.

Rehberg and the firefighters tried to downplay the political tension in the air, as McDonald was already slated to speak at 1 p.m. Some of the firefighters were trying to distance themselves from the politics surrounding the lawsuit.

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Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, he continues to learn, and strives to be a Student of Fire.

3 thoughts on “Representative Rehberg talks about his fire department lawsuit at firefighters’ meeting”

  1. It’s losing… Not loosing. Just because a PhD can’t figure it out, doesn’t mean she should be allowed to post through proxy on other sites.

    When folks reply with common “other site” typos (6th grade errors) and comments, it makes me wonder how much “copy and paste” nonsense is actually going on… and who is the horrific “speller” leading the press release styled comments and commentary. JMHO.

  2. This is a an issue of character and the lack of good character by Congressmen Rehberg.
    Here is what I mean and what I have said often on the congressman’s FB page. Most people would not tell a military vet they failed or they were derelict in there duty if they had to pull out of an area because of heavy fire. Yet this is exactly what this character flawed congressmen is doing.
    Another real important issue is this, as wildland firefighters we are going to loose trees and bushes. We will also have to pull out of bad situations when we need to. How will it be if we are sued every time someones bush or tree is lost?


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