Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery told a veteran he has “no respect for you” and called him an “enemy” of the U.S. Constitution after the man admitted to recreational use of marijuana.
Sun City resident Don Ream spoke to Montgomery during a question-and-answer portion of a debate between Montgomery and attorney Marc Victor on March 23. The debate was one of three scheduled this month between Montgomery, a staunch marijuana opponent, and marijuana advocates.
Ream, a Vietnam veteran, said he uses marijuana for medicinal purposes, and took issue with Montgomery’s characterization of marijuana users as “potheads.” Ream also invited Montgomery to attend a meeting in Sun City with Ream and others so they could discuss marijuana use.
“We’ll educate you. I feel sorry for you,” Ream told Montgomery during the debate. “You’ve been deceived.”
Montgomery replied that there’s “a distinction between medicinal applications and recreational use,” at which point Ream cut him off.
“I’m a recreational user, too,” Ream said.
“Well, then you’re violating the law, and I have no respect for you,” Montgomery responded.
Montgomery went on to tell Ream that he had “no respect for you as someone that would try to claim you served this country and took an oath to uphold the Constitution and defend it against all enemies foreign and domestic. Because you’re an enemy.”
Montgomery’s comments drew a mix of boos and cheers from the audience at the Pyle Recreation Center in Tempe. A few days later, Montgomery canceled his next debate, scheduled for March 30 in Gilbert.
His spokesman, Jerry Cobb, said Montgomery canceled the last debate because his comments to Ream had been “mischaracterized” online.
Since the March 23 debate, Montgomery has engaged a number of users on Twitter in regards to his comments, criticizing some for claiming he called Ream an “enemy of the state.”
Montgomery told one person on Twitter they didn’t have a right to “question how I challenge a fellow vet. It’s a veteran thing you don’t understand.” And he chastised the same person that there was “no ‘enemy of state’ nonsense. No surprise if short term memory issues.”
@jddrafter nope and neither does it permit you to question how I challenge a fellow vet. It’s a veteran thing you don’t understand.
— Bill Montgomery (@Veritas_ad_res) March 25, 2015
Cobb said Montgomery also took issue with comments on social media by his scheduled opponent in the debate, Kathy Inman. Montgomery was upset that MATFORCE, an anti-marijuana group led by Yavapai County Attorney Sheila Polk, was touted by Inman as an organizer of the event.
MATFORCE had nothing to do with organizing Montgomery’s debates, Polk said.
MATFORCE did send emails advertising the three debates with Montgomery, and also sent emails notifying people that the final debate in Gilbert had been cancelled – which Inman posted on Facebook.
Inman, the executive director of MomForce AZ, a pro-marijuana organization, said she was hurt by Montgomery’s comments at the Tempe debate and thought it was out of line of an elected official to verbally attack a member of the public, particularly a veteran.
Montgomery said what he said, Inman told the Arizona Capitol Times.
“It’s true, and he should be ashamed of himself,” she said.
And Montgomery may not be linked to MATFORCE in this instance, but the Maricopa County attorney is a frequent supporter of the organization and promotes its material, Inman said. She pointed to a January Twitter exchange with Montgomery that led to their scheduled debate in Gilbert. When Inman engaged Montgomery in tweet, he responded by looping MATFORCE into the conversation and sent Inman a link to a MATFORCE article.
“He seems heavily involved with MATFORCE to me,” Inman said.