Billings attorney John Heenan says Washington, D.C. is corrupt and that the current Congressman is part of the system that rewards money over people.
Heenan says that’s just one of many reasons why he decided to announce his candidacy for the U.S. House. He says the tipping point was what happened after Congressman Greg Gianforte (R-MT) admitted to assaulting Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs.
“The attitude of being above the law and refusing to be processed the way anyone else who commits a crime would be processed,” he says. It’s a reference to Gianforte fighting being fingerprinted and standing for the booking photo.
Heenan also wants to shine the light on corruption and dark money in politics. He teamed with fellow attorney Gene Jarussi of Billings to prosecute a case for the Montana Commissioner of Political Practices against former Bozeman legislator Art Wittich. A jury found the Republican guilty of campaign finance violations in 2016. Heenan and Jarussi volunteered their legal expertise in prosecuting the case.
Heenan says he know how dark money groups operate and have turned politics into a blood sport. The trial attorney says that won’t deter him from running for the U.S. House.
“What I do for my job is say to bullies, ‘You like picking on somebody so much why don’t you come pick on me,’ Heenan says. “So I know this is a fight that I’m picking and it’s an important fight and I feel like it’s a fight worth having.”
So much so that Heenan is shuttering his law practice to run full time for the U.S. House even though there are ramifications for his family. Still he likens it to reporting for jury duty.
“Someone needs to step up to say, ‘I think I’d be a better Representative for Montanans than Greg Gianforte,’” he says.
Gianforte has already announced he plans to run for re-election next year. Heenan is the first Democrat to enter the race.