Federal Judge Strikes Down All Montana Donation Limits

Leaving an entire state with mouths agape, a right-wing federal judge in Montana today ruled that all campaign contribution limits for political candidates are—unconstitutional.

Like every other state in America, Montana sets rules on how much cash you can give to a campaign. A Gubernatorial campaign may take $630 from an individual, Attorney General candidates $310, state legislators $160, and so on down the line.

But Judge Charles Lovell, a Reagan appointee who hails from a family of right-wing operatives (more on that later), has decided that these laws–which have been on our books (and every other state’s books, and the federal government’s books) for most of our history–violate the First Amendment.

This has nothing to do, mind you, with the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision protecting corporate money in politics.  This is about limits on individual donations.  Because of this ruling, the Koch brothers may now write a personal check for an unlimited quantity to any Montana candidate of their choice.

The basis of the Judge’s ruling?  “Campaign contribution limits prevent candidates from amassing campaign resources,” he wrote.

Huh? Yes, Your Honor, that’s the point of having such laws.  They limit the amount of resources that a candidate can amass, a byproduct of restricting the amount of resources that one individual (like the Koch brothers or George Soros) may give a candidate, which prevents the buying of influence.

This is a truly bizarre ruling, and I am sorry to say this, but I believe that Judge Lovell must either be drunk, demented, stupid or simply corrupt.  My guess is the latter.  Lovell knows that if you get rid of contribution limits, you give an edge to the GOP, because the GOP has more wealthy donors than Democrats.  For this reason, I believe, Lovell has waited until the day that voting has begun (overseas ballots started coming in this week), so that by the time a higher federal court can overturn this idiotic ruling, it will be so late in the game that it will be moot.

And the most insidious part is that the judge issued the order, and said in the order that he would not issue an actual written decision until some future date.  So he provided no reasoning at all except for the single quote I provided above.  You see, he was in a huge rush to protect everybody’s First Amendment rights.

So for now, Montana apparently has no campaign donation limits at all.  With the stroke of a pen, a federal judge has invalidated them.  Intelligent Discontenthas a post up on the ruling that you’ll want to read too.  UPDATE: James Conner at the Flathead Memo also has a post up entitled “Let’s not let Judge Lovell’s campaign contributions crisis go to waste.

This follows on the heels of other right-wing lunacy from the federal Montana bench. A while back, a federal judge was caught sending racist emails to his friends about Obama.

In the instant case, by the way, the Judge’s son, Lance Lovell is also a lawyer, spends much of his time getting his name in the newspaper by bringing suit against the Democratic Governor, Brian Schweitzer.  So using the courts for purposes of advancing Republican Politics is all in the family with the Lovells.

Posted: October 3, 2012 at 8:45 pm

50 thoughts on “Federal Judge Strikes Down All Montana Donation Limits

  1. Pogie

    I think it makes perfect sense to overturn major laws without taking the time to write a reason for it. We can’t ask our judges to actually support their decisions, can we?

    1. Jan Thomas

      This judge was in such a hurry to hand the election over to the Koch brothers he couldn’t be bothered with the specifics. Also likely, the more detail he adds the easier it would be to point out the problems with this bad idea and get a stay on the ruling.

  2. Dave

    So what you are saying is that people are stupid and can’t think for themselves and therefore will be influenced by candidates who will spend lots of money. Rehberg and his cronies can spend all the money they want and most of us still won’t for Rehberg. I think most Montanans will see when candidates are simply working to buy the election like Steve Daines.

    1. Paul S.

      What kind of GOP troll comment is this. Lovell, the GOP, and the American Traditions Partnership is allowing those with the most money to make sure everyone has heard good things about their candidate and be bombarded with bad things about their opponent–if they even hear of the person at all. How is that an accurate way for voters to decide?

      1. Larry Kralj, Environmental Rangers

        Lynn, this election will be an IQ test for America. I’m not hopeful. Wacthing Mittens lie his ass off last night nearly made me wretch. I had the strange, strange sensation that I was listening to ol’ Joseph Smith himself spout fantastical bullshit about the relevations he had while looking into his hat! Yes, things are “best left to the states”. For you see, the states know best. In fact, mabye Utah could attempt to secede again! Last time they did that, the president trained his canons on Bring’em Young’s house and told him that if he tried anything, he’d be the first to go!

        Unfortunately, we can’t do that any more. Mittens is simply a wealthy confederate. To mittens, there is no “you” in the U S of A. Only ME! And the Big Kockhs!

        1. Havre Voter

          I think I misread your comment, my apologies. I get it now, the judges utter failure to explain himself. And you are right, these decisions are written by clerks anyway – the time excuse is a poor one.

    1. Brigham

      Yeah, Max deserves a pile of scorn every time Lovell issues a disastrous opinion. Of course, not nearly as bad as when Max voted to confirm Scalia a year later.

  3. Drill Baby Drill

    Sounds like somebody has sour grapes after Obummer lost another presidential debate. Change is coming, freedom loving people have stood by for too long while our voices were supressed.

    1. Larry Kralj, Environmental Rangers

      Lost?!! Lost?!! Now THAT’S funny! You see, if Mittens dosen’t pick his nose, drool, knock over the lectern, or stammer uncontrollably, HE WINS! And Mittwit did none of those things, at least on camera anyway!

      But win? I don’t think so.

      To paraphrase Mittens:

      “HEY, trust me! I’ve got a secret plan! Just do away with social security, medicaire, and EVERY kind of social program, and I’ll grow the economy so much that you stupid bastards will get some too! It’ll work this time, you suckers! Oops! Not suckers, I meant to say you folks who don’t pay taxes! Ooops! I MEANT to say you 47 percenter assholes who I don’t GIVE a crap about anyway, ’cause you’re all minoritees and losers! Rich people know best! Just give us more money and watch us run!”

      Yeah, that’s quite a message the dipshit has. Wonder how long it would take mittshit to invade Iran and start ANOTHER war?

      Yep. I gotta agree on one thing though, Drildo the dildo, Mitt’s a real winner!

      bwwhahahahahahahahhahahaa!

          1. Larry Kralj, Environmental Rangers

            You see, Drildo, Matthews has finally figured out just WHAT I tried to explain to paddy quitter williams and the Dem leadership some sixteen years ago here in GF. I asked, at WHAT point do you fight back against fascism?! When it’s too late????

            If Mittens wins, it’s time to start looking for a new country where there is still some sanity left, for it’ll get real ugly here. Wanna know how ugly? Well, Latin America ugly! Same folks, same policies! In fact, MITTENS got his start with the death squad families in El Salvador! They financed Bain!

            All bets are off. Maybe NOW that it’s too late, the Dems will start fighting back! Ya think?!

            p.s. I just LUV the way Mitwit suggests that we can drill our way to prosperity! Now THAT’S damn funny!

        1. Dave Skinner

          Chris Tingling Matthews a REPUBLICAN? Gosh, Larry, you really are off your rocker. You are right about this election being an IQ test, tho. And America might smarten up just enough.
          As for Lovell’s ruling, he’s absolutely correct. Right now, candidates have to beg just as hard and waste just as much time for $160 as they might for 1600. Or more. Has it ever occurred to any of you that if politicians didn’t waste SO much time and SO much brainpower on dial a dollar, they might have time to actually write and pass some rational legislation?
          Take the limits off, require full disclosure in real time or no ad buys, and let’s see how that works. Nothing else has.

          1. Rob Kailey

            Well here’s a thought, Dave. How about we have public financing of elections? That way, politicians wouldn’t have to spend any time raising money and could spend it writing that beautiful legislation you dream they will submit. The need to ‘disclose’ just vanishes, along with the expensive machinery that drives it. Let’s see how that works. Nothing else has.

            (Here’s a hint. MORE money flowing to elections doesn’t solve anything as you describe. It simply means the same or more time spent fundraising to get even more dollars with which to buy an election.)

          2. Dallas Reese

            Up until this decision the playing field was level. All candidates had to “beg just as hard” and “waste just as much time” as the next candidate. Those with the gumption and energy really didn’t have that much difficulty with that activity. During those “dial a dollar” sessions, the people the candidate talked to got an idea about the candidate because of the personal contact that the candidates HAD to make in order to be competitive.

            1. Dave (not he anti birth control state legislator)

              I agree with Dallas. Thanks to the ATP and the MTGOP, the same candidate only has to convince one rich donor that he or she will sponsor the bill to deregulate the cyanide mining industry.

    2. Lynn

      Drill Baby, you are one of those who seems to believe that Corporations are people who should be “Free” to do whatever they want.

  4. PROUD PATRIOT

    LEARN HISTORY. The Framers of the Constitution knew that free speech is the friend of change and revolution. But they also knew that it is always the deadliest enemy of tyranny.
    ~Hugo Black

  5. PROUD PATRIOT

    LEARN LOGIC: Money is speech. It’s incongruous to say a multimillionaire can spend as much on his own campaign as he wants, but you can only give $2,300. His free speech rights are different from yours, thus violating the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution. It’s absurd.
    ~Roger Stone

    1. TylerE

      There’s a big difference. A self-funded candidate can’t bribe himself, but a $2 million check to be elected governor might just affect how the official governs.

      1. PROUD PATRIOT

        So you want to be the one to decode who may speak or who not. You want the Government to decide who to censor like communist China. Perhaps you should move there.

        1. TylerE

          I’m comfortable with a rule that says “you’re not allowed to single handedly buy an election.” If you want to run, you need the people’s support. These rules strengthen democracy, not weaken it.

          1. Rob Kailey

            The only rule that says that, TylerE, is public financing of elections. Each candidate gets the same level pool of money (though they certainly could spend their own as they wish). That would be precisely the “people’s support”. We pay them to campaign so that they owe us when they serve.

  6. Publius II

    I’m SICK…my comrades fought in Iraq so they the people there could VOTE with purple fingers and now We the People are getting FINGERED right here
    in America, land of the Free and Home of the Brave????? Why did I serve to
    have this travesty where money has
    now full corrupted our electoral process? Where’s the anger from extremists on federal ‘meddling’ with our state’s anti-corruption laws?

  7. Publius II

    Dave, you might be right, but there are too many ‘low-information’ voters who
    cancel out the votes of those who
    know who is ‘buying’ their elections offered to the highest bidder so we
    can have the best government ‘Money Can Buy’……this is a travesty along with voter suppression as we slip into the ‘digital’ Gilded Age…..

  8. Richard Miller

    Wake up folks, it is time for the next revolution. Throw every repuglician out of office this election cycle that is running for an office. Estimates for this cycle are 6-8 Billion dollars being spent on lies and deceitful advertizing. The profits being made by the media from these ads are obscene. Greed has finally taken over the “free” press and the talking heads are running to the bank with their big paychecks. I think that it is time for the realtors to put up their for sale signs at our borders and list each state with MLS.

  9. ZooDem

    Apparently the Cowgirls didn’t get the memo about what the correct campaign contribution limits are.

    Legislators have been able to receive $160, not $130 for over 4 years. And the AG limit is now $310 not $300.

    One would assume that you would get the amount for the Governor correct.

    http://1.usa.gov/HOcCnZ

    1. Rob Kailey

      WELL HOLD THE PRESSES! THAT CHANGES EVERYTHING! Oh wait, no it doesn’t. It doesn’t change jack-squat. This very post was about how one judge has decided there are NO limits, not one dollar or $130 or $160. But still, thanks for playing, wingnut.

  10. Pretty shoppe girl

    Why is this such a big story? Liberals have received free advocacy from the media establishment forever. It is about time that the playing field was fair for all left, right, and center.

  11. Dave Skinner

    Larry, Larry….
    He’s taking SENIOR status, just like your fave Don Molloy, just like Charles Lovell. He’s not done yet.
    What the heck, it’s just another reason to vote for Flip this election, I’d hate to see Obama appoint another judge.
    As for public financing? James, nice try, but heck no. If you look at the Supreme race, right now it is completely under the radar. First, it split three ways, in an almost random manner 33 33 33 in the primary. It went my way, in that I was worried that Best would survive. Phew….
    This time around, while all us here at CG are relative political junkoids, the Lee poll has Sheehy and McKinnon almost even, with 55 percent undecided. Worse, when you look at the splits, men go for Sheehy, women McKinnon, even though there’s a conservative-liberal gender gap in Montana voting patterns. And WE here know that Ed’s a lib and Laurie supposedly conservative. That is so opposite the expectation, so not okay.
    The problem is, there’s no information out there at all on this particular choice. Ed’s face is up on billboards, but is that really fair to voters? A mug shot?
    What about all the other down-ticket races where our ever-intrepid news media is just piling on the important news we need to make a choice?
    Besides, money isn’t everything. The Wapo has a story about all the big GOP pacs not getting their money’s worth in terms of moving the needle.
    While I’m sick of wading through all the lies and sewage, all the work involved in trying to find out the actual issue stands, I can’t imagine not having any information at all except that issued by the government.
    Do you really think an incumbent would lose with public financing and all the advantages of office, including franking like Jon and Denny both use?
    Nah.

  12. Why can't we all get along

    The Koch brothers run companies wisely. Now our courts will be run wisely as well.

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