Judge to release edited version of Rehberg boat crash report

2012-10-25T06:30:00Z 2012-10-31T17:49:04Z Judge to release edited version of Rehberg boat crash reportThe Associated Press The Associated Press
October 25, 2012 6:30 am  • 

HELENA – A judge on Wednesday ordered the release of an edited version of an investigative report into a 2009 boat crash involving U.S. Rep. Denny Rehberg and former state Sen. Greg Barkus.

District Judge John McKeon said he agrees with prosecutors that many details of the report should not be released due to the state’s constitutional right to privacy. But other aspects the report should be made public, the judge said, citing the public’s right to know.

The document was not immediately available.

Barkus crashed his boat on Flathead Lake’s rocky shores after a night of drinking on Aug. 27, 2009, injuring his four passengers. Also on board were Rehberg, the wife of Barkus, and two Rehberg staffers, one of whom was in a coma for 10 days.

Rehberg, who is in a close race to unseat Democratic U.S. Sen. Jon Tester, suffered cracked ribs and a fractured eye socket. Also, a left leg bone was sheared just above his foot, and Rehberg has said the only thing holding his foot on was his cowboy boot.

Prosecutors said Barkus had a blood-alcohol content of 0.16, more than twice the legal limit to drive. Barkus pleaded no contest to felony criminal endangerment and was given a four-year deferred prison sentence, $29,000 in fines and supervised probation.

Barkus had asked McKeon to delay release of the pre-sentence investigation report, while Rehberg has not intervened in the request.

Flathead County Attorney Ed Corrigan asked the judge to withhold information he deems private.

The judge, weighing requests for the information from the Associated Press and Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, largely agreed with Corrigan and rejected Barkus’ request to delay release.

“Neither this court nor Barkus can ignore the fact that Barkus and Rehberg were public officials at the time of this offense of criminal endangerment, this felony offense involved serious bodily injury and knowingly engaging in conduct that created substantial risk of serious bodily injury and that due to the contested U.S. Senate race, there remains considerable public interest regarding this offense,” the judge wrote.

The judge said redacted information would include personal address and financial information, information on Barkus’ health and chemical use, his psychological information, personal information for witnesses and victims, and other information.

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(19) Comments

  1. Tracker
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    Tracker - October 26, 2012 12:26 pm
    He did.
  2. old farmer
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    old farmer - October 26, 2012 11:52 am
    Tester won last time on lies. He,s using the same thing this time.
  3. libertarian
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    libertarian - October 26, 2012 2:45 am
    I haven't read where Barkus admitted to driving the boat.
  4. libertarian
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    libertarian - October 26, 2012 2:39 am
    A vote for Cox is a vote for Cox. Why should I vote for a candidate who has voted to raise the debt, a candidate who supports the Patriot Act, Real ID, and NDAA. I didn't support no child left behind, either but Rehberg voted for this program and voted to double the budget of the Department of Education, when most of us would rather see education as a local issue. When Rehberg says he is concerned about the debt, then why vote to increase that debt several times. Rehberg has learned a lot from Max over the years.
  5. Chuck Feney
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    Chuck Feney - October 25, 2012 8:42 pm
    By strengthening the third party movement, you are crippling this uniparty two party monopoly on power.

    You only learn to win by losing first.
  6. Bittersweet
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    Bittersweet - October 25, 2012 7:02 pm
    I agree. Not a very good field to pick from but these are our choices. Nothing against Cox, but if you vote for him out of spite you have more than likely just voted for Tester. .....A vote for Cox is a vote for Tester. People need to remember than when they are standing in that booth with a #2 pencil.
  7. Montana Man for LIFE
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    Montana Man for LIFE - October 25, 2012 6:31 pm
    I would definitely vote for Dan Cox if Dan had a shot at beating Tester. I agree he would be way better than both. I just can’t take that chance, I’m not going to throw away my vote and loose my chance to get Tester out of office.
  8. Chuck Feney
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    Chuck Feney - October 25, 2012 2:29 pm
    You do have another choice, and a very good one. Check out the Kalispell debate where Dan Cox, the Libertarian candidate, was allowed into the debate. He cleaned up.

    I voted Dan Cox, because he is the best candidate for the office.
  9. Montana Man for LIFE
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    Montana Man for LIFE - October 25, 2012 12:41 pm
    Even with all that, Denny is better than Tester.... Thats how bad Tester is!!!!
  10. Montana Man for LIFE
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    Montana Man for LIFE - October 25, 2012 12:39 pm
    I understand that Denny is scum… but at least tell the Truth about Tester and him voting against Montana over and over!!! Tell everyone how if Tester would have listen to the people who put him in office we wouldn’t have Obamacare!!! Tester doesn’t care what we think, he doesn’t understand that he works for us.
    Denny isn’t a good choice, but he is Way better than Tester!!!!
  11. Montana Man for LIFE
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    Montana Man for LIFE - October 25, 2012 12:35 pm
    I really don't like Denny at all....But there is NO way I will ever vote for Tester again!!!! If I had another viable choice I would vote for them. In this election we need to vote for the better of 2 evils, which is very clear!!! Next election we need to get rid of Denny, but not at the cost of keeping Tester. Tester is one of the worst we have put in office! We have to get Tester fire, Obamacare alone is reason enough to fire Tester. A large majority was opposed to Obamacare and he voted for it. The scumbag is supposed to vote how the people tell them to. But not Tester, he will vote against Montana and he has proven it over and over. Tester has to gooooo at all costs, even if it mean getting Denny for a few years.
  12. Chuck Feney
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    Chuck Feney - October 25, 2012 12:35 pm
    Montana's Answer To Borat

    Dennis Rehberg thinks he understands
    The economy with his financial plans,
    But he's a partisan fool
    For if consensus were a mule,
    Rehberg can't find his ADZ with both hands!

    In Congress, Denny sponsored darn few bills
    'Cause he stays busy stayin' stewed to the gills!
    Like when he was in Kazakhstan
    He was the first Congressman
    To become infamous for his drunken horse spills.

    Rehberg put on his ten gallon cowboy hat,
    Mounted up, yelled "YeeHaw", then went SPLAT!
    Thru this, the Kazahks were amazed
    That his drinking was never phased
    Now he's known as Montana's answer to Borat!
  13. Chuck Feney
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    Chuck Feney - October 25, 2012 12:26 pm
    What's Denny trying to hide by delaying the release of this public information?
    How do we Really know if Barkus, an experienced boater very familiar with the Flathead, was REALLY piloting the boat?

    Who is in a condition to remember who really piloted the boat? Barkus' wife has marital immunity, Frost is impaired from this accident, and Dennjy is typically elusive. That leaves Kristen Smith.

    Were the medical bills for this accident dumped off on Montana's Worker's Comp system, or were they paid by the generous Federal medical coverage afforded to the elite Congressional staffers.
  14. Alan Johnson
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    Alan Johnson - October 25, 2012 12:26 pm
    I can support the redacted release. Some of the information in the PSI is discussed openly at sentencing. Auditor is expecting a little too much from the PSI. It will not be filled with information such as what Rehberg said after the crash. For that, you would need to see transcripts of his interview with law enforcement. A PSI is written by a probation/parole officer. It analyzes information that it believes is useful in recommending a sentence. Though a narrative describing the crime is part of it, it won't include witness statements. It will have statements regarding a victim's wishes as to sentencing. That may include financial information, which of course goes to the convicted person's ability to pay fines and/or restitution. It also looks at psychological reports as well as chemical dependency evaluations. Part of the decision on a sentence where drinking is involved is whether the court should order evaluation and treatment. Montana Law mandates that a witness be allowed to hake a statement. That is usually done in an interview with the preparing parole officer, but the victim also has the right to appear and testify at sentencing.

    I really doubt that the redacted report will include anything new that hasn't been already reported. As far as Rehberg is concerned, this is a dead horse. Nothing relative to him will be in the PSI. Opponents tried to use the issue in the 2010 elections. It fell flat. It takes a real stretch to allege Rehberg had any fault at all in the accident.
  15. Chuck Feney
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    Chuck Feney - October 25, 2012 12:26 pm
    Denny on the Rocks

    A Montana politician named Barkus
    Tried to turn a Congressman into a carcass.
    After a night of hard drinking,
    With his breath vapor stinking,
    On the rocks he tried to lethally park us.

    It began, as these thing often do,
    At a party full of spirits and brew,
    But they'd a deadline to make
    To get across Flathead Lake
    So the Congressman rallied the crew.

    When they mustered down at the gang plank
    It was obvious they were all in the tank.
    But they had to decide
    In whose vessel they'd ride
    So they chose Barkus to hold Captain's rank.

    When they loaded the boat to embark,
    They decided to race through the dark.
    Their Noah knew his way to land
    Like the back of his hand
    But disaster awaited his ark.

    Folks said this crew could be heard for a mile
    A Voyage of the Medusa ... Republican style!
    Barkus pulled down the throttle,
    As he tipped back the bottle,
    And on the shoals his new boat he did pile!

    The legislators and staff all got tossed,
    And they feared that a few would be lost.
    But some folks heard the crash
    And were there in a flash
    To save the crew of that Skipper well sauced.

    Here's something for Montanans to note:
    Why would anyone get into a boat
    That went high speed at night,
    Without any running light,
    And was piloted by a drunken old goat?

    But this Barkus was quite a sly fox,
    Tried to keep himself out of Court docks.
    He wanted evidence denial,
    And a relocated trial,
    For the crime of spillin' "Denny on the Rocks"!

    Then in a world class show of B.S.
    Barkus's lawyer blamed a faulty G.P.S
    "It's not the whiskey you see
    Just a navigation tragedy!"
    Said his client, when asked to confess.

    So with a Senator's luck
    A plea bargin was struck
    And we'll never know
    'Cause evidence won't show
    If Rehburg was the drunk drivin' schmuck!
    Charles Ulysses Feney
    © 2009
  16. james11
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    james11 - October 25, 2012 11:51 am
    He who has the gold makes the rules now more than ever. Either support it like a puppet would or completely turn your back on a flawed system that holds the common man on a lower level than people with money and power. The higher up you look in government the more serious the crime is that is being pardoned or covered up.
  17. Auditor
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    Auditor - October 25, 2012 11:32 am
    Rehberg had to know that Barkus was knee-walking drunk even though he had been drinking heavily himself. By taking his staffers into the boat with him, by failing to see that someone sober took the helm during the reckless, careening boat ride, he endangered public employees.

    Any employer has a duty to care for his or her workers.

    We don't need dipsomaniac Senators in the pockets of billionaires like the Koch brothers. With a few drinks in him, Denny will give them anything they want.
  18. Auditor
    Report Abuse
    Auditor - October 25, 2012 11:29 am
    The public most needs to know the truth of what Denny did. The Barkus BAC when he took the helm had to be .19 or .20. He would have been staggering. He drank with Denny for hours.

    Denny tested at the hospital much later than Barkus but still blew .055. It means his BAC when boarding would have been about .08 or .09, making him legally drunk had he operated the boat.

    Denny brought Dustin Frost and Kristen Smith, his taxpayer-paid, on duty staffers with him, endangering their lives. As with any employer, he had a duty to protect them, but failed.

    Frost barely survived. A camper who'd heard the crash found him floating face down in the water. He suffered massive, permanent brain damage.

    Rehberg lied about the amount of drinking they'd done. He had a fundamentalist musician who performed at the restaurant do so as well. It wasn't his first episode of drunkenness on the job: Awash in vodka, he embarrassed the U.S. falling off his horse and calling his Kazakhstan hosts "coneheads,"
  19. Roger
    Report Abuse
    Roger - October 25, 2012 10:25 am
    You can tell whom the Missoulian supports for the Senate seat - the headline refers to the "Rehberg boat crash", even though he wasn't driving it and it isn't his boat. Greg Barkus was driving and it was HIS boat.
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