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Brooks: Only Troy Downing knows how far the rabbit hole goes

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Last week, Republican senatorial candidate Troy Downing issued a lively statement in response to charges that he applied for Montana-resident hunting permits when he lived out of state. “It’s unfortunate the liberal Montana FWP deep state is on a witch hunt,” his campaign said, referring to A) the department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks and B) the theory that certain career civil service employees use their positions to secretly govern the United States.

Words have meaning, and I don’t think Downing should just throw them around. A witch hunt is when you know witches are out there, but you haven’t accused anyone yet. The phrase Downing is looking for is “witch trial.” I agree with him, though: This witch trial is nothing but a frame-up.

That notorious instrument of the liberal deep state, the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks, is using its vast power to stop Downing before he can “knock Tester off his throne in the swamp,” as his campaign website puts it. This case has deep-state conspiracy written all over it.

From its headquarters beneath Helena’s picturesque Skull Mountain, the agency alleges that Downing illegally applied for resident hunting permits every year from 2011 to 2016. FWP claims he filed Montana income taxes as a nonresident in 2013 and 2014. He is the CEO of a real estate investment firm based in California. His property at the Yellowstone Club lists, as its owner’s address, a post office box in the San Diego area. A 2013 article in the Lone Peak Lookout describes him as a “part-time Big Sky resident” who enjoys “throwing grape-stomping parties at his working vineyard on his southern California property.” And in 2015, he and his son Dylan used the same Montana driver’s license number to purchase residential hunting permits within three minutes of each other.

Isn’t all this “evidence” a little too neat? Why does every so-called fact—drawn from multiple sources over several years—imply that Downing lives in the same location? It’s awfully convenient that all the “evidence” suggests he lives in “California.” Maybe that’s how residency works in the movies, but in the real world, nobody lives in just one place.

Troy Downing

The question to ask when dealing with such an obvious conspiracy is, “Who benefits?” Someone considers Downing too dangerous for the Senate. The obvious answer is Big Wildlife, but to unravel a mystery like this one, you have to look past the surface. The Downing campaign did just that, observing in its statement that “it’s no surprise that a Democrat judge, appointed by Democrat Gov. Schweitzer[,] would release details of this case before Troy is afforded due process in the court of law.”

Democrats! Everyone knows they run both FWP and the Gallatin County Attorney’s Office, which ordered the release of records related to this case. The Gallatin County attorney is the same Democrat lackey who released Greg Gianforte’s mug shot only two months after it was taken, once a judge ordered him to. This explanation would make perfect sense to a political outsider like Downing, but insiders know the Democratic Party is not capable of influencing elections in Montana. Sure, they’d like to—the same way a dog would like to order a pizza. It’s just not happening.

That leaves but one explanation. Who is close enough to Downing to know his every residence? Who has access to his driver’s license and the login credentials for his personal blog—which is titled, no kidding, “Troy’s World: Random Rants and Related Run-On Retarded Rhetoric” and refers to California as his home? Who is the only person who might be even smarter than Downing himself? His son, Dylan Downing.

Dylan got a residential permit at the same time his dad did. Presumably, Dylan had access to the family laptop. He made it look like his father lived and worked in California and, I guess, filled out the residency information on the Yellowstone property. Distracted by the deep state, Downing overlooked the real threat to his campaign: the deep family. Now Big Wildlife and the Democrat judiciary are convinced he spent most of the past decade in California, when really he was in Montana this whole time.

The only other explanation is that he fudged the residency on his hunting permits and can’t admit it without blowing up his senate campaign. But that’s what Dylan wants you to believe. I’m through the looking glass. I see the man behind the curtain, who pulls the strings that move the puppet to make him look like he’s washing the looking glass. Sure, it’s kind of funny. But like any puppet show, it’s also tragic and disgusting.

Dan Brooks writes about politics, culture and what’s really going on at

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