BILLINGS, Mont. – Congressman Dennis Rehberg, under fire from his Senate primary opponent for supporting the controversial Patriot Act, is defending his longtime support for the unpopular law.
Rehberg consistently supported the Patriot Act since Congress first passed the law in 2001. Jon Tester has always opposed the Patriot Act, saying the law tramples constitutional rights because it allows the federal government to spy on law-abiding citizens.
After consistently defending the Patriot Act for nearly a decade, Rehberg only changed his position in February of 2011—just days after announcing his run against Tester.
“I make mistakes too,” Rehberg told a crowd of supporters at a rally in Whitefish last fall. “I really wish I hadn’t voted for the Patriot Act.” [Rehberg Whitefish Rally, 11/10/2011]
But last week, Rehberg told Montana Public Radio that he’s “ready, willing and able to do everything I possibly can if you give me an example where [the Patriot Act] has infringed upon an American’s right.” [KUFM Radio, 5/25/2012]
“Jon, like many Montanans, doesn’t think we should wait for the government to trample the rights of law-abiding Americans,” said Tester campaign spokesman Aaron Murphy. “The Patriot Act allows the government to invade private records with no accountability—something Congressman Rehberg only believes is wrong when he’s running for office.”
During his career in Congress, Rehberg voted in support of the Patriot Act five times. [HR 2975, Vote 386, 10/12/01; HR 3162, Vote 398, 10/24/01; HR 3199, Vote 414, 07/21/05; HR 3199, Vote 627, 12/14/05; S 2271, Vote 20, 03/07/06;]
Then in February of 2011, days after announcing his Senate run, Rehberg for the first time cast two votes against the Patriot Act. [HR 514, House Roll Call Vote #26, 2/8/11, HR 514, House Roll Call Vote #36, 2/14/11]
Rehberg told Montana Public Radio last week: “I voted against the extension of the Patriot Act in many instances.”