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E-mails show Hedges gave advice after resigning

June 16, 2002 

HELENA – Former aide Shane Hedges, who resigned after causing a fatal drunken-driving accident last summer, has remained a key strategist for Gov. Judy Martz, using e-mail to help craft speeches, write policy and raise money for the governor, state records show.

The analysis of more than 3,500 e-mail records of the governor and key members of her staff also found a handful of cases in which staff members used state e-mail to write or pass on political fund-raising messages.

The e-mails were requested by The Lee State Bureau and the Associated Press after disclosure that Martz’s former policy director, Shane Hedges, and another aide, Betti Hill, had used state telephones to do political fund-raising work on state time.

Hedges resigned last August and pleaded guilty in October to negligent homicide for the drunken-driving accident that killed House Majority Leader Paul Sliter, R-Somers.

Most notably, Hedges reviewed an advance draft of Martz’s Jan. 23 State of the State speech. On the morning before the governor delivered the speech, he suggested some changes, including adding many more “applause lines" – lines placed in the speech aimed at drawing applause from Republican stalwarts in the House chambers who have specially marked copies of the speech. As they listen to the speech, they can lead the applause at predetermined points.

The original draft of the speech had 12 applause lines. Hedges added 21 more in his revision on Jan. 23.

“Don’t let any of the staff forget that this is a strategic production,” Hedges wrote. “I nearly tripled the number of applause lines because it doesn’t matter whether the lines deserve applause, what matters is the story saying her 30-minute address was interrupted 20 times by applause. It is so important to do this right.

“Applause should obviously be taken off the speech itself and highlighters used to mark the spots. Don’t want someone to leave their copy laying around and have that be the story. Again, at least five people should be strategically placed in the room – more if possible (to lead the clapping).”

On Nov. 27, Hedges suggested a communications plan for Martz to send out three op-ed columns of 500-700 words a week to every daily, weekly and trade publication in Montana. He suggested the staff and directors “must take an issue and relate it to jobs, education or tax reform.” The drafts were due from staff or directors by Monday afternoon and were to be released on Tuesdays.

Martz has done a few op-eds since then but not three a week.

On Jan. 28, Hedges drafted a fund-raising letter for Martz seeking donations of $200, $100 or $50 "to help us directly communicate with the people of Montana about our accomplishments and vision for a new Montana.” Hedges also drafted a new letter to be sent to donors.

Hedges also drafted a speech on Jan. 10 for Martz to deliver as a speech to an audience of Republican women.

One letter showed that Hedges met with Martz, Ohs and top advisers at least once at the Montana Club, a private club in Helena, for lunch.

Hedges, now living in the Washington, D.C., area, said Wednesday that he was not serving as a consultant to the Martz administration.

“I was just trying to be helpful to the administration by providing the institutional knowledge I had from 15 months from the campaign, two months from the transition and the first eight months of the administration,” said Hedges, who managed Martz’s campaign for governor in 2000. “I was a loyal former employee who was trying to be helpful and trying to provide the knowledge I had from all those months working with the governor.”

As for the numerous applause lines Hedges successfully added to the Martz 2002 State of the State speech, Hedges said:

“These speeches are not meant just to be laying out policy directives. They’re meant to inspire people, to energize people, to help them share a vision for a state. And the way you do that is to communicate, in language that energizes and inspires them and hopefully that leads to applause.”

Martz chief of staff Barbara Ranf said Hedges was not a consultant but offered occasional suggestions to the governor’s staff drawing on his experience in the administration.

“Of course, we talked to him. So many of us were new,” Ranf explained.

Hedges, on the other hand, had played a key role in the administration on issues, she said.

“It’s nice to be able to tap into that,” Ranf said.

By CHARLES S. JOHNSON. Lee State Bureau.
Associated Press writer Bob Anez in Helena contributed to this story. Copyright © 2002 Associated Press.

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