The shadow group American Traditions Partnership is back working in Republican legislative races in Montana. American Traditions Partnership (ATP) is the group that sued to deregulate elections and turn back MT’s 100 year old ban on corporate funding of elections.
ATP, which doesn’t disclose its donors, sent out a mailer supporting Dee Brown in the Republican primary for the Whitefish/Columbian Falls State Senate Seat, SD 2. Previously they favored TEA Party poster boy Rep. Derek Skees in the HD4 general.
HB 198 was a Republican bill passed by a Republican controlled Legislature. This demagoguing flier was mailed with heavy saturation in Whitefish and Columbia Falls. Here’s the mailer:
The Center for Responsive Politics estimated that Republican secret money groups outspent Democrats across the U.S. last election cycle by a 7-1 margin. Here in Montana, ATP and other Republican-leaning groups spent an estimated $2-3 million attacking Democratic candidates and supporting TEA Party Republicans–but you can’t find the exact amount or who paid for it. This is just one more reason why the Citizens United decision is so bad. The Supreme Court opined that voters could easily go to the internet to find out who paid for the campaign ads. But GOP political operatives simply set up tax-exempt non-profit front groups like ATP to avoid having to disclose their donors. The front groups claimed that they were educating the public on issues rather than campaigning for candidates. Therefore, they argued, the disclosure wasn’t required.
Christ Matthews told Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer on Hardball recently that fewer than 50 wealthy individuals or corporations are spending the bulk of the money to influence elections this cycle. Schweitzer was on the program to talk about his support for a ballot initiative in Montana to overturn Citizens United.
ATP is the lead plaintiff in the legal challenge to Montana’s ban on corporate spending for candidates. The group touts their organization’s secrecy as a benefit of giving them money and have been under fire for corruption in Montana and other states. Montana TEA Party legislator Art Wittich (R-TEA Bozeman) is said to be the new local figurehead for the entity.