Embattled former Montana legislator John Sinrud’s Western Tradition Partnership has been targeting pro-conservation candidates in both parties for the last few years, and specializes in nasty (and potentially illegal) campaign tactics. Sinrud, a former Belgrade legislator, has been previously identified in connection with the shadow group in the Montana press. Correction: I had earlier written that former Speaker of the House Scott Sales was someone behind this group. That was incorrect. Sales was among those endorsed/backed by the group. Now, the shadow group is making headlines in other states for their tactics. The Colorado Independent has the story, including how the group was
formed by Montana political activists but registered to GOP operative Scott Shires in Aurora, Colo. That group denies advocating for any particular candidate in any particular race, insisting its campaign surveys legally gauge for the voters where candidates stand on the issues.Shires has been fined and censured by Colorado officials in past elections, including the 2008 Garfield County commissioners’ races, which saw Democrats targeted by the oil and gas industry. Shires’ Colorado League of Taxpayers was fined $7,150 for spending $2,400 on mailers in that race without filing proper electioneering reports with the Colorado Secretary of State.Nearly two years later, Shires still hasn’t paid his fine. “At this point, collections hasn’t been able to get that money yet,” Secretary of State spokesman Rich Coolidge said.