Montana Judge to consider making Rehberg’s boat crash records public

Hon. John McKeon responds to ethics watchdog’s right-to-know request

BILLINGS, Mont. – A Montana Judge will consider unsealing key documents related to Congressman Dennis Rehberg’s controversial 2009 alcohol-involved boat crash on Flathead Lake.

The independent ethics watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) recently asked for the documents to be unsealed, claiming the public has a right to know exactly what happened on the night of August 27, 2009.

That’s when Rehberg, who had been drinking alcohol, put two of his employees on a boat piloted by state senator Greg Barkus.  Barkus, whose blood-alcohol level was twice the legal limit, crashed the boat at high speed into the rocky shore of Flathead Lake, injuring everyone on board.  One of Rehberg’s staffers remained in a coma for more than a week.

Judge John McKeon this week ordered parties to “respond to CREW’s request” by October 23 and announced he will conduct an “inspection” to see whether the public has a right to see the documents.

MeKeon’s order is online HERE.

CREW notes that Rehberg will “presumably” be required to make his case to McKeon about whether he believes the public has a right to know the details of his crash.

“The true story behind the very serious boat crash involving two public officials has never been revealed,” CREW Executive Director Melanie Sloan said when making the initial request. “Further, it seems Sen. Barkus and Rep. Rehberg may not have been honest when questioned by investigators.”

A recently transcribed recording of Rehberg’s conference call with reporters after the crash raises significant questions about what exactly happened.

“Yet again, Congressman Dennis Rehberg has failed to hold himself accountable to the people of Montana after making irresponsible decisions—and Montana deserves better,” said Montanans for Tester spokeswoman Alexandra Fetissoff.  “Transparency is a Montana value. We look forward to seeing whether Congressman Rehberg agrees.”