Issues of concern to people who live in the west: property rights, water rights, endangered species, livestock grazing, energy production, wilderness and western agriculture. Plus a few items on western history, western literature and the sport of rodeo... Frank DuBois served as the NM Secretary of Agriculture from 1988 to 2003. DuBois is a former legislative assistant to a U.S. Senator, a Deputy Assistant Secretary of Interior, and is the founder of the DuBois Rodeo Scholarship.
Tuesday, May 03, 2016
Ex-Montana Sen. Conrad Burns dies; influenced energy policy
Former Montana Sen. Conrad Burns, a former cattle auctioneer whose folksy demeanor and political acumen earned him three terms and the bitter disdain of his opponents, died Thursday. He was 81.
Burns died of natural causes at his home in Billings, Montana Republican Party Executive Director Jeff Essmann said.
“He was a colorful figure who loved people, politics and to serve,” Essmann said. “He brought a common-man, common-sense approach to his work in the Senate and returned to his home in Billings when his work was done.”
As a Republican senator, Burns used his influence on the powerful Appropriations committee to set the course on energy development and public lands management across the rural West. But he was ousted from office in 2006 under the specter of scandal after developing close ties to “super-lobbyist” Jack Abramoff, who was later jailed for conspiracy and fraud.
No charges were ever filed against Burns, who dismissed criticism over the affairs as “old political hooey.”
After working as a livestock auctioneer, Burns in 1975 moved into broadcast radio, founding four stations known as the Northern Ag Network. The network eventually grew to serve 31 radio and TV stations across Montana and Wyoming, offering agricultural news to rural areas.
He sold the network in 1985 and — capitalizing on his name recognition — made his first foray into politics a year later, when he was elected commissioner for Yellowstone County in south-central Montana.
Before his first term was completed, Burns took on incumbent U.S. Sen. John Melcher, a two-term Democrat described by Burns opponent as “a liberal who is soft on drugs, soft on defense and very high on social programs.”
At the age of 53, he won election to the Senate by a 3-percentage-point margin. He rose to be one of the most influential positions in Washington with his seat on the Appropriations committee, serving as chairman of the Interior subcommittee...more