Rep. Denny Rehberg (R-MT), fresh off his Republican primary win, filed a lawsuit Friday against the City of Billings and the Billings Fire Department for damages sustained in a 2008 fire. Rehberg is the developer of record for the 1,000-acre subdivision that is managed by his wife.The lawsuit, which seeks an award to be determined at trial, says that the fire department “breached its duty” during the July 2008 fire. The Rehbergs are claiming damages for the loss of trees and ground cover in an area they intended to develop.
Rehberg is not the first Montana politician to take on firefighters. Former Senator Conrad Burns (R-MT) made headlines in 2006 when he had an airport altercation with firefighters flown in from Virginia following a 143-acre fire. Burns accused the firefighters of doing a “poor job” and not allowing ranchers to fight fires as they saw fit. Burns lost his reelection bid later that year.
Rehberg himself is no stranger to the legal system, as he has been involved in legal proceedings for the last year a boat crash led to felony alcohol charges against the driver, Montana State Sen. Greg Barkus.