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Firefighters mad at Rep. Denny Rehberg over lawsuit

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U.S. Rep. Denny Rehberg cost taxpayers in his constituency more than $20,000 when he and his wife sued the city of Billings, Mont., and its fire department in 2010 for damage caused to their property during a fire. Two new ads from Democratic outside spending groups are making sure voters don’t forget.

Rehberg, a Republican who is challenging Democratic Sen. Jon Tester, ultimately dropped the suit, but he was nonetheless hit over the Columbus Day weekend with the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee’s “Only Out for Himself” and Majority PAC’s “Always There.”

Rehberg and his wife sued the City of Billings and the Billings Fire Department for equipment and property damage during a 2008 fire on Rehberg Ranch Estates. Two days after the fire was contained, it flared up again. The Rehbergs alleged breach of duty and negligence on the part of the fire department, according to the Associated Press.

Majority PAC spent $339,000 on the ad and mailers. It is unknown how much the DSCC spent.

The lawsuit became fodder for his 2010 re-election campaign against Democrat Dennis McDonald, who told the Billings Gazette the lawsuit was “embarrassing for the congressman, who is suing the taxpayers.”

Rehberg dropped the lawsuit in November 2011, but it cost Billings taxpayers almost $21,000 according to documents released by the city, Billings’ KTVQ-TV reported. Rehberg announced his intent to run for U.S. Senate three months later.

The Senate race in Montana has attracted $11.1 million in outside spending, according to the��Center for Responsive Politics, and the race is considered a tossup. The Democratic-held seat could be a possible pickup for the GOP, which expects to win the state in the presidential election.

The state is heavily unionized, so while Montanans may prefer Republican presidents, they have a Democratic streak when it comes to down-ticket races, Real Clear Politics says.

The race has attracted money from many of the big-name outside spenders, including the League of Conservation Voters, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, labor unions, and both abortion rights and anti-abortion groups.

The National Republican Senatorial Committee has spent $2.2 million and the DSCC has spent $2 million, according to CRP, making them the top spenders in the race. Conservative nonprofit Crossroads GPS is second with $1.5 million and the League of Conservation Voters follows with $1.3 million.

Rehberg and Tester faced each other Monday in the only debate of their race, with Rehberg attempting to link Tester with President Barack Obama and Tester attempting to link Rehberg to lobbyists. Action Fund, a nonprofit, also went after Rehberg over the weekend, spending $250,000 on canvassing and door hangers.

Rehberg holds a slight lead in the polls.

In other outside spending news:

Who paid for that political ad? You might be surprised by the answer. Email us and we will try to find out. Describe the advertisement — was it mean or nice? Will it affect your vote? When and where did it run and what were the names of the candidates? And PLEASE tell us what the disclaimer at the end says, and we will check it out.

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