Big Win for Bullock in Clean Elections Case

All eyes are on Montana this week after AG Steve Bullock’s huge win against shadow political groups. These groups tried to overturn Montana’s centuries-old ban on corporate spending in elections.  Bullock beat them down.

A few years ago the U.S. Supreme Court gave it’s full seal of approval to corporate influence in elections, in the infamous Citizens United Case. Since then, Montana has been the only state in America with the backbone to wage a war to defend it’s own state laws prohibiting such corporate spending.   Our laws date back to 1912, and were passed in response to Copper Kings who tried to buy the entire state government with bribes.

The ruling by the Montana Supreme Court in Western Tradition Partnership, Inc. v. State of Montana is a ray of hope for American election law.  During the 2010 elections, giant industries descended on Montana and spent huge sums of unregulated, undisclosed money, as much as $6 million, to elect Republican legislative candidates. The result was the most lopsided election in Montana history.

A big shout-out to Chief Justice Mike McGrath, who found an artful way to weave an opinion out of delicate cloth, upholding Montana’s ban on corporate money passed by voters in 1912, by finding meaningful distinctions between Montana’s law and the federal law that was held unconstitutional by the US Supreme Court in Citizens.

Bullock should be proud of having argued a landmark decision that will be remembered in Montana for many decades. This is our gubernatorial nominee. Contrast him to the nine homunculi put forward by the GOP, none of whom can point to a single accomplishment on behalf of Montana citizens.

What results might this crop of GOP contenders point to as evidence that they are competent leaders?

–creating the most expensive work-comp system in America, and raising taxes to try to fix it (Hill)

–working for Qadaffi (Livingstone)

–preventing terminally ill cancer patients from getting medical cannabis to ease their pain (Essmann)

My money is on Bullock.

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56 Comments on "Big Win for Bullock in Clean Elections Case"

  1. Bullock won’t win. Economy stinks, big money is going to pour in anyway, Bullock was against Otter Creek either before or after he was for it, while Hill made Otter Creek possible, gouging lemonade out of Clinton’s New World lemon. That matters.
    As for WTP, they aren’t the only dirty secret money outfit. What about Forrest Mars’ support of NPRC litigation for years regarding Tongue River Railroad, or who exactly the contributors for that Hunter and Anglers Action PAC fronted by Barrett Kaiser?
    The problem with money is not the money itself, but disclosure. Money buys speech, money buys lobbyists, money buys focus groups, money money money. The only defense any voter has is to get the money in context of who spends it, and only then can the motives be found out and proper context had.
    So we’ll see what kind of impact this ruling has…if it forces disclosure within a time frame that matters (before the election) then it is a good thing.

    • Larry Kralj, Environmental Rangers | January 4, 2012 5:35 PM at 5:35 PM |

      I hear your home state calling you home, Skinnerflute! Answer the call, dude.

    • The economy stinks cause companies who are sitting on billions want to make more. and they want to make it by lowering American standards to that of the chinese.

      The recession was a bank robbery of the American People by corporate interests and hedge fund managers who bet against America, and then pulled the plug to make sure they cashed in! I think Larry is right, go back to wherever you came from and take your sorry explanations with you!

  2. Hill will not beat Bullock, and if Hill can’t, none of those other morons stand a chance.

  3. Drill Baby Drill | January 4, 2012 2:29 PM at 2:29 PM |

    Hill won’t beat Bullock–but Livingstone will. That’s why the libtards here are so eager to bash him.

    • Best joke I heard all day.

      • Drill Baby Drill | January 4, 2012 8:23 PM at 8:23 PM |

        Here’s what you’re missing. Voters are going to pick the most electable candidate, and Livingstone and Zinke will prove that’s them. No baggage, no scandal, no interparty problems.

        Bullock doesn’t have the name recognition, and won’t have the cash to combat Livingstone.

        • Livingstone and zinke don’t have the name recognition that Bullock does. Essman has more name recognition then both Zinke and Livingston. Get over it, neither make it out of the primary. Plus Zinke was a reasonable senator so he is not liked by the tea party. Because of the big primary and the teabag enthusiasm to get out and vote for the dumbest candidate they can find I think Ken Miller might pull out the primary.

        • The Republican primary voters are known for choosing the most “electable candidate”. Like Bob Kelleher.

          • Good shot, Lewis! Had to be the charismatic eyebrows….

            • Larry Kralj, Environmental Rangers | January 6, 2012 8:11 PM at 8:11 PM |

              Dave, you never met Kelleher then. The guy was the best candidate you guys ever put forward. He was a real intellectual. I took a class from him one time. Extraordinary.

        • Bullock doesn’t have the name recognition

          This is why it’s pointless to argue with the deeply stupid.

          1) Bullock is the Attorney General, having won a very high profile primary against Mike Wheat and John Parker. Damned near every Democrat in Montana knows who he is.
          2) Bullock just made news all over the state with his defense of Montana in the Montana Supreme Court’s ruling concerning corporate finance of elections. Most Independants in Montana have now heard of Steve Bullock.
          3) The Republican Party of Montana has just spent two years attempting to discredit Bullock, hoping for a challenger to replace him as AG. Damned near every Republican in Montana knows who Steve Bullock is.

        • Your claim is patently false:

          Cash:
          Bullock has raised $550k to date
          Livingstone has raised $100k to date

          Name recognition:
          Tell me again the last time Livingstone was on the ballot?

          Scandals:
          Didn’t Livingstone offer to help Qadaffi?

          Bottom line:
          It’ll be close – but to claim that Livingstone/Zinke have better resources is wrong.

    • Larry Kralj, Environmental Rangers | January 4, 2012 5:14 PM at 5:14 PM |

      BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAA! Now THAT’S funny, Drildo baby Drildo! You see, it AIN’T every day we get a reetard with his OWN private CIA! Did I mention that Livingscam has his OWN private CIA! And did I also mention that Livingscam has a CIA with “mucscle”?…….BWHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAAA!

      Oh may god! Make these maroons stop! It’s humor overlord! But Drildo baby Drildo, are you serious?

  4. Bullock is smart because this decision reframed the case as about corruption rather than speech–with the historical docs to prove it. Well done sir.

  5. When you say it like that Cowgirl and just like that, that makes me want to run to my polls and vote for Bullock. Now dont get me wrong Ive been a critic of the Democratic Primary process here on this blog, and I love Montana’s open primary. But at the end of the day, when you put Bullock up against any of the Republicans or the Libertarian (whom I think is nutter then a Christmas fruit cake), Bullock wins. I mean compare Bullock with Lynch, Lynch had cronism at the department of transportation and became Benedict Arnold, and the rest of them sides the ones you named are all nuts. And the only way to beat these nuts is to show up at the polls.

  6. Larry Kralj, Environmental Rangers | January 4, 2012 10:05 PM at 10:05 PM |

    UH oh! Bad day all round for corporate fascists and their Pubbie Pimps!

    http://www.commondreams.org/further/2012/01/04-4

  7. You Guys haven’t begun to see Steve in Action Yet! As an Attorney General, he has had to tow the line like most state lawyers do. But in a debate with Livingstone and Hill the man will wipe the floor. The man has better credentials for this state period, and the facts to back up those arguments!

  8. American Tradition Partnership (ATP). According to its web site, ATP is “dedicated to fighting environmental extremism and promoting responsible development and management of land, water and natural resources.” In other words it is funded by Mining companies to allow Mining without safety rules of the EPA! This is exactly why a miner died in Nye Montana last month! the company was unwilling to allow safety concerns to be addressed for the protection of the people working for them.

    Mining over the last 100 years has truly stressed out our forest watersheds to the point of destruction! Half of our states forests are considered the most endangered in the Country, More so then New York, more so then California! If you people wish to continue to fish and hunt in this great state then you are gonna have to fight the expansion of mining, and corporations in this state that want to work without compelling interests of regulation to man and TerraFirma!

    We already produce more energy, then we can sell! It is time the companies do the right thing and retool for a better upcoming century and follow law to protect the states interests!

    Think about it people, the state is close to being called a dirty polluted place because we continue to allow companies to get away with Murder! Time for them to make just a pinch less money so we can breath easier and drink clean water. and we can teach our grand children to fish and hunt in the great outdoor without fears of them eating polluted fish and deer!time for us to make sure the people who mine are protected from greed, and can work safely!

  9. The definition of “fighting the good fight”. This was great news.

  10. Democrats make huge gains among small donors; keep up the great work, Cowgirl:

    http://www.opensecrets.org/news/2012/01/the-bigger-role-of-small-donors.html

  11. Believe that CU vs FEC was a bad decision?

    Say so here:

    http://sanders.senate.gov/petition/?uid=f1c2660f-54b9-4193-86a4-ec2c39342c6c

    160,000 people have already done so.

    • Larry Kralj, Environmental Rangers | January 6, 2012 8:08 PM at 8:08 PM |

      Not to be overlooked is the fact that somehow, by some extraordinary means, by some mysterious process, Montana ALWAYS has the uncanny knack of producing just the right people we need at just the right moment! Happens all the time. It’s really nothing unusual. It’s not even out of the ordinary. Bullock simply joins the long and distinguished list of folks who rose to the occasion and anwwered the call to make Montana the wonderful, beautiful, unique place that it is. I blame the landscape. It inspires folks to greatness. In-spire. In other words, it puts the spirit IN them! The spirit of this place. Authors, poets, and yes, politicians.

      Bullock has my vote.

  12. I’m sorry, but donating a large amount of your own money to your campaign alone will not get Livingstone elected. Neil has absolutely no infrastructure. Look at how Newt Gingrich is lacking such a structure and isn’t even able to get on the Virginia ballot. So yes, Neil can produce an incredibly strange and low quality postcard to send to random thousands across the state – but a random postcard a campaign does not make. Nor does lots of money.

  13. oh, i meant that as a response to drill baby.

    • Drill Baby Drill | January 7, 2012 5:08 PM at 5:08 PM |

      marion, does this mean that you believe that candidates with the most money aren’t more likely to win. history has proven the opposite of this. that postcard had its desired effect–its generating buzz about Livingstone and Zinke.

      • Larry Kralj, Environmental Rangers | January 7, 2012 5:14 PM at 5:14 PM |

        Generating BUZZ, Drildo? More like LAUGHTER! There IS a difference! BTW, did I mention that Livingscam has his OWN private CIA?…….BWHAHAHAHAHAAAA! Too funny.

        So, Drildo, tell just HOW a private CIA will help Montana! HEY, he said it, not me!

      • no i am not saying that it’s not about NOT having money – it’s where the money comes from that is the crux of my point. Point to me a candidate that has soley self-funded, in Montana or anywhere, that has been successful. Part of a campaign is the ability to invigorate individuals and PAC’s to convince them you are worthy of holding office and that they believe in you. Just simply dumping your own $ into a campaign to get your message across (insert strange postcard sent to random people across the state), to reiterate my earlier words, does not a candidacy make. Fundraising IS crucial to a successful run, but if you can’t convince lots of people that you are worthy of an investment into your candidacy, then I believe self-finance of your campaign is a joke. In order to fundraise, you have to call people, you have to get them invested in your candidacy and develop relationships with them. So long as Livingstone is not showing on his reports that he is reaching out to Republicans, this shadow of dumping his own $ into a campaign is a joke. He’ll maybe make a tiny splash, in the wave of 9 Repub candidates, but not much of one.

  14. Drill is just repeating the same meme he has repeated for months. Livingstone doesn’t stand an icicles’s chance in hell of winning. Nor does Hill for that matter. The issue was decided pretty much the day Bullock officially entered the race. All the contenders can do now is pad their resume/public recognition by continuing to run until they have spent the money they have raised. I doubt that Livingston will commit a serious amount of his own money to the race at this point. He is already looking at a serious loss. If he does, it simply counterpoints his unfitness to have to the office. Hill is supported by the “establishment” Republicans and therefore doesn’t have to worry about losing his own money to run. Expect to see Livingston tone down the amount of money he is spending and look for him to go extremely negative in the near future.

    The idea that Bullock doesn’t have name recognision (and Livingstone does) is almost funny enough to be campy. This race won’t even be close. Once again, the Republicans had an excellent chance to get one of thier own in office but fumbled the ball by putting forth inferior, deluded and distasteful candidates.

  15. I believe that Livingstone, once people learn more about him will have a very good chance. He’s got the money to get his message out. He’s got serious experience, is not beholden to a particular industry like some of the others, and he’s got no skeletons in the closet.

    • Larry Kralj, Environmental Rangers | January 8, 2012 1:29 PM at 1:29 PM |

      Yeah, and did I mention that he has his own private CIA?………………BWHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAA!

      Just what every Montanan NEEDS, their own privates! Oh, and no skeletons? He was Lob Lolly Ollie North’s best buddy during Iran Contra!

      Go away, Drildo. You’re a joke. But for the record, just WHAT is Livingscam’s message? You claim to know, so put it out there, dude! So far, zinke has spouted just industry nonsense. Can you do better? WHAT is The Message? And exactly HOW is it unique? You DO understand what unique means, don’t you Drildo? How is what he’s saying any different than any OTHER industry pimp?

      Your turn, Drildo.

    • well, drill baby, there has been so much mysterious future about Neil that I am starting to lose interest. While these words of “as soon as” and “once he” keep bouncing around, the remaining EIGHT candidates are calling Repubs in earnest around the state telling them why he is their candidate. Fundraising is a bit like betting, you are betting on who is going to win. The more bets placed on a candidate, the more likely they are to win. Again, Drill, show me someone who has been successful self-financing, and I may think slightly differently. In all actuality, that primary is almost a literal crap shoot. I don’t see, other than that strange postcard (sorry, that does not win votes or convince voters, trrrrrust me) anything other than the bus and $27k i believe it was Neil dropped. Ken has been campaigning hard, Corey obviously has been beating down doors asking for $ and now so is Essman. Make no mistake, I care for none of these yip yos and believe very strongly in Steve. Long story short, Drill Baby, you are living in a hypothetical future that has had no proven luck to this self-finance formula in the past, and has YET to produce anything other than a bus with a bad driver of a Lt. Gov. candidate and a poorly designed postcard. My money is not on Livingstone in that crap shoot.

      • Classic libtard mentality – bash those that create jobs while glorifying those that instead leech of the economy under the banner of disorganized labor thugs. You all keep at it. It’s a great reminder of what we’re up against!

        • Larry Kralj, Environmental Rangers | January 10, 2012 7:35 AM at 7:35 AM |

          Did you actually say “we’re”, drildo?? Yeah, you’re a real working man, aren’t ya? BWHAHAHAHAAAA! You strike me as a gubmint suckin’ slug if there ever WAS one, drildo! What are you, retired military? Welfare farmer? Social security retiree? Just what. I just KNOW you ain’t workin’ for a living, litle fella! You got Unca Sugarteat liplock writ all OVER you! Come on, drildo, show us your callouses! Not the ones on your ass!

          • Im thinking drilldo is probably under 20 years old…probably a college republican flunky. The use of “libtard” is a dead giveaway. He probably has calluses from his playstation.

            • Wrong on all counts-but I’ll take it as a complement that you find it easier to attack me than my logic.

              • Larry Kralj, Environmental Rangers | January 10, 2012 6:04 PM at 6:04 PM |

                That’s simply because you’re full of SH*T, drildo! You come to work with me ONE DAY, drildo, and I’ll believe that you’re a working man, you little worm, if you last the entire day! You see, drildo, you’re what we refer to in the biz as one o’clock wonder, guys who puke before lunch and then never come back! That’s you, drildo. I’m positive.

                p.s. I lied. We never even TAKE lunch! We work until the job is done. Then we eat. If it’s ten, twelve, fourteen hours even in hundred degree heat, we do it. You still want’a call yourself a working man, dink?

              • Norma Duffy AKA ILIKEWOODS | January 18, 2012 1:50 AM at 1:50 AM |

                If your logic stinks(which yours does) it is always better to attack the personality… cuz people like you cannot be swayed by facts when you believe in Fairytales!

        • And just how many jobs are we talking about? Give us a number; any quantifiable number clearly tied to the cause and effect created by the Repubs tax cut policies i.e. from the “job creators”. You can’t because there isn’t any.

        • Instead of “bash” you as you claim others have done, I will simply ask a few pointed questions.

          Given that you are responding to Larry’s link, I can only assume by “job creators” that you are refering to the people conducting the Fracking operation. This is – in and of itself – indication that you have not actually read the article. The article is fairly clear that it was the the officials of the State of Ohio that shutdown the operation when it became scientifically clear that the Fracking operation itself was at fault for the earthquakes.

          Further “The job creators” (in this case, Ohio Oil and Gas Association ), agreed with the decision and even questioned that it took 10 earthquakes for the State officials to actually respond to the issue.

          Now I will give you that the article Larry linked is quite biased and that bias shows clearly. It doesn’t alter the facts, though and those facts can easily be found quickly enough from other sites and news sources. In the case brought up by Larry, a fracking operation (to be specific – the disposal well for the fracking operation) reacted with some unstable strata to trigger earthquakes. The state shut the operation down and the company doing the fracking agreed with the shutdown.

          In short, your rant had nothing to do with Larry’s comment, it was misdirected, and does not do a great deal to convince anyone that you should be listened to.

  16. Don’t know much about the “inside baseball” aspects of Montana’s legal community or storied history with “The Copper Kings”, but what’s expressed in its’ limited rebuke to the Big Nine (SCOTUS)is this: There are other high court “judicial sensibilities” that test the close majority margin that gave life to big money corporate funding under Citizens United. Indeed, the Montana Seven in its’ 5:2 decision (5 majority votes and 1 more, oddly, a dissent, that tangentially credits restricting corporate “free speech”)arrived at a different conclusion. Maybe the closer the tribunal is to the alleged problem, the greater the likelihood is for finding a “compelling state interest”. I’m from Florida and we had a storied era of untoward political behaviors instigated by “The Porkchop Gang”. Somewhat similar, lots of salacious stories, but I don’t think our Supreme Court would be as strident in judicial soverignty as Montana. I think this case speaks volumes about a judicial sentiment that’s “out there” that comports with a popular sentiment in the citizenry as well. The Citizens United result has many detractors, formally and otherwise…

  17. Does anybody know where I can find the video of Steve Bullock on MSNBC talking Citizens United? I don’t have cable.

  18. Unfortunately to the outside eye it does sound good what Steve Bullock did. BUT…..don’t be fooled for one minute, Steve Bullock knows that big corporations still fund politicians and state departments. It is done through funding requests for money that is needed from the government. Millions of dollars run through departments that have been corrupted. They are receiving money and kickbacks from private business organizations and from the Montana taxpayers, even the national taxpayers.

  19. Since the task at hand was for Bullock to defend Montana election law against Citizens United, how was he supposed to address your concerns, which are outside of the scope of either he case or MT law?

  20. Should read “the case” rather than “he case”.

  21. Seasoned SCOTUS correspondent Lyle Denniston noted in his 2/10 post that the ATP vs. Montana AG case will get an audience with one (A. Kennedy, the swing voter, no less) of “The Big Nine” (the U.S. Supreme Court) on 2/15/2012.

    This makes for some interesting and timely legal drama in the wake of Citizens United and the ramping up of the Super PAC’s who’ll do and say what they want, when they want, about who they want (actual candidate’s true wishes notwithstanding).

    Predicts Denniston-a summary rejection for Montana, as it has shown that its’ judiciary has disregarded a clear and on point precedent by a superior court.

    Maybe if the federal system’s version of “foreign corrupt practices” legislation recognized “extra-jurisdictional” sources of election funding (much like the “Copper Kings” were regarded historically), the feds would better appreciate the dilemma.

    I predict a closer call, because Montana could make a more “compelling” case for its’ “compelling” state interest. Do they (the feds) need an after the fact assessment of funding sources gone amok to distinguish the facts that gave rise to Citizens United originally? By the time the feds can determine this, the lesson will have already been learned.

    We’ll just see where this goes. I like the moxey of the Montana Cowboy Court. Stay tuned, I guess…

  22. Norma Duffy AKA ILIKEWOODS | February 11, 2012 1:19 PM at 1:19 PM |

    I think you will be right on this myself, Citizens United is not the type of law that takes away state rights to view elections as they see fit! I do not think they will tangle with it because elections are limited in scope. Campaign money is not a everyday service that benefits all, just a select few! So I think their argument is to narrow to be defined in USA Law! Besides Bullocks argument was exceptional, because the state has precedent regarding corrupt corporations!

    Here’s to hoping we wont get overturned either, because then the GOP Machine would prove once and for all they really do not care about a states sovereign rights!

  23. Steve Kimpland | May 17, 2012 2:55 PM at 2:55 PM |

    As a follow up to my 1/11/12 post, indeed, this week it’s become even more apparent that there are expert “detractors” in terms of Citizens United I.

    This week’s Slate reveals the existence of the now retired Justice David Souter’s mysterious draft dissent. Though it’s unpublished, evidently “sources” know enough about it to reveal that it’s a more potent dissent than the opinion/vote that subsumed it after Souter retired (that being Sotomayor’s later dissent vote which was a part of the minority in the 5:4 win for unfettered corporate “free speech”) .

    I hope (and doubt) Souter would divulge the particulars for the sake of institutional order, but the knowledge of evidence of what he wrote-it may be somewhat probative-could be enlightening in terms of “C.U.II” (Western Traditions v. Montana AG).

    It’s tenuous, even if it is for nothing more than taking judicial notice of the fact that there is a well reasoned view that “judicial strategy” played a significant role in how the original CU I case was framed and adjuducated. It’s a procedural nuance, but no one ever imagined that CU I issues would eventually be manifested in CU II so shortly thereafter.

    Maybe what’s been said by the learned fellow Souter is one of those strange examples where “form/tact” actually does effect “substance/outcome”. Bullock and his like minded state AGs should be aware of this recent below the radar legal revelation…

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