Page from the GOP Playbook: Solve a Problem by Making it Worse

Montana GOP Rep. Scott Reichner of Big Fork has put forward what can best be described as a Republican solution to the problem of “dark money” in politics.  Dark money is the anonymous, unlimited and unregulated money, usually of corporate origin, that has helped the GOP win seats in the legislature in the last two elections and also helped Tim Fox become attorney general.  Most of it was funneled by a group called American Tradition Partnership, a group that has been in severe legal trouble in Montana.  Dark money is bad because whoever spends a fortune bankrolling a candidate will later demand something in return.   Its legality, unfortunately, has been partially decreed by the conservative U.S. Supreme Court in its pathetic collection of Citizen United decisions.  Steve Bullock has led the fight, in Montana and nationally, against dark money.

Unless I’m missing something, Rep. Reichner’s  proposal (HB 229) seems designed to make the problem worse.  He wants to raise the contribution limits, so that more money could be donated to candidates. His bill, the Billings Gazette reports, would allow a maximum of $2,500 to be contributed to a gubernatorial candidate (current law allows only $620).  And, he wants political action committees and other third party groups to be able to donate unlimited money to a candidate.  Currently these groups are limited in the same way as individual donors (although they often circumvent these limits, and campaign finance laws in general, by forming non-profit “issue groups” through which they can influence elections without even disclosing who the donors are).

Exactly how Rep. Reichner’s scheme would put an end to political corruption is unclear.  Indeed, in fashioning his solution, Rep. Reichner [pronounced Rich-ner] has turned to the most dog-eared page of his party’s playbook: if something is creating a problem for society, it is merely because there isn’t enough of it.  To wit:  if gun violence in schools is a major national problem, it’s because there are too few, not too many, guns in schools.   Or, if conservatives keep losing elections, it’s because they are not being conservative enough, and are mistakenly pandering to moderate voters (claim people like Rush Limbaugh).  This is the new Republican logic.  If conservatism is is constipating our society and preventing progress, the argument goes, it’s only because we aren’t having a big enough helping of it.

There’s another proposal, by Rep. Rob Cook (R-Conrad), to go along with Reichner’s bill.  This one is a riot, and deserves credit for being elegant in its simplicity and getting right to the point: Cook’s bill (HB 254) wants disclosure–not of funding sources, but of the mere fact that the money is anonymous.  His bill would require anonymously funded campaign ads to have a disclaimer at the end, saying “This ad was paid for by an anonymous money.”

Why not just introduce a bill that actually forbids anonymous money in the first place?

Our issue in Montana may have been partially settled by a state court in recent days.  Judge Sherlock in Helena has ruled that the nebulous category of expenditures known as “issue ads”–those awful advertisements made by non-profit groups to attack or support candidates, done under the guise of a supposedly “non political” 501(c)4 non-profit status which allows donors to remain undisclosed–are in fact purely political and thus break state law. That was the latest ruling against American Tradition Partnership, the group that has fifteen Republican legislators in hot water.   So perhaps we will see a sharp abatement of the use of the non-profit loophole next election season (but don’t hold your breath).

American Tradition Partnership might not be able to appeal Sherlock’s decision.   From the sound of it, the group has virtually disbanded.   It’s staff has run for the hills and it’s bank accounts may have been closed, and all that is left (all that there ever was, in fact) is a P.O. Box and a bunch of ghosts, who gamed our political system while hiding behind the veil of corporate legal status.  Perhaps a Republican legislator should come up with a new law to prevent that.



65 Comments on "Page from the GOP Playbook: Solve a Problem by Making it Worse"

  1. Please address that 91% of Baucus’ contributions came from non-Montana sources. That strikes me as rather dark. Then, of course, are the financial institutions that opened up a vein to feedTester.

    • Your party is doomed to the porta-potty of history, Craig. Baucus is the least of your worries are the red state nut race intensifies:

      • My party????

      • Larry Kralj, Environmental Rangers | January 29, 2013 8:52 PM at 8:52 PM |

        And for boinkin’ farm animals, which I’m SURE that Jerry’s participated in, fifteen wacks on the pee pee with a large ruler adminstered by Sister Dolorosa! In public!

        Sheesh. At this point I really must ask, just WTF is THIS moron Oilyneeal runnin’ around free while illegally impersonating a lawyer, and the mariJUANA dude, who was by the book legal, is in jail? Sumthin’ ain’t right here.

    • According to the average GOP’s senate member has raised more money since 2008 then Max Baucus Craig. BUT THANKS FOR THE MISDIRECTION, from Republican lackeys like you… the average low information voter would never know that.

    • Don’t forget about Jon Tester, he used dark money to get elected and where is the liberal outcry — this is hypocrisy at its FINEST folks. Open your eyes, nay pull your heads out .

      • Same thing baby, he didn’t use any more money then his counter parts in the gop senate either. So whats your new accusations of MISDIRECTION now?

  2. What does Mr. Cook suppose is the difference between getting a piece of mail that does not tell us who paid for it and getting a piece of mail that tells us that those who paid for it are anonymous? The mind boggles.

    Perhaps next he’ll propose a requirement on insurance bills–that the insurance company must print on each statement that they won’t actually tell us what the insurance company’s markup is. If Mr. Cook is reading this, consider my permission given for him to put this idea into law. (sarcasm)

  3. In general, a candidate for a Legislative race in Montana must generate around $10K to run in the general election. There are exceptions of course, particularly in our more urban areas. Reichner’s bill will increase the costs of running for every seat in the Legislature and will ultimately do away with our “citizen Legislature”.

    • Norma Duffy @Ilikewoods | January 30, 2013 10:01 AM at 10:01 AM |

      Exactly, if Montanans don’t see the writing on the wall… I do. Corporations are trying to take over Montana, and this loon, Montana GOP Rep. Scott Reichner in the Legislature, is willing to open the door for them to come in and trample our rights.

      1. we need to all contact our Reps and say no to Scotts Bill!
      2 We need to get behind Debbie Barretts Bill to overturn the Eminent domain law that passed last session!

    • Dallas, the problem is actually more evident in hotly contested districts like HD 63, where the money requirements are already well above average. The ATP used its ‘special sauce’ to defeat J.P. Pomnikowski in 2010, but was turned back in 2012. Additional citizen money in hot districts like 63 could actually help get citizen favoring candidates elected against the tide of dirty tricks.

      Corporations are trying to take over Montana, and that is true. Broadening the individual contribution won’t solve that problem, but it could mitigate it somewhat in districts like Madison or Beaverhead county. Ultimately, the solution is not begging more money from individuals but to overturn Citizen’s United. Still, allowing private citizens, declared and known, to donate more doesn’t seem like a bad idea in this current environment.

      • Rob, I agree that broadening the individual contributions could mitigate some of the money concerns that all candidates encounter. Perhaps unfounded and overly paranoid, but my concern is that many of the small dollar contributors (the $10/$25/$50 contributions) will dry up as those folks may begin to think that their small contributions won’t carry any weight so why bother. I also have concerns that candidates will focus on a few high dollar (high dollar being a relative term) donors and will not spend the time and energy contacting as many potential donors/voters as they can. With that lack of contact comes less knowledge about a candidates positions, less candidate/voter interaction and potentially more surprises when an elected official “goes off the rails” so to speak..

        The bigger issue, as you’ve stated, is more disclosure, repealing CU and the non-disclosure language associated with the 501(c)(4) org’s like ATP.

  4. You’re all really unaware of the dark money that elected Tester? e have to study this phenomenon more.

    More important than the money itself is the reason he received its benefit. A deal was struck. I wonder what “Montana value” he put up on the auction block. It was probably more than one of them there values. He’s a package deal, the election his six-year blue light special.

    • REPUBLICANS pushed to change the law, and now your crying cause the Democrats used it to push back the tide? The word hypocrisy comes to mind!

    • Uhhh, “Pundet”? Matthew Keohler made certain that everyone online in Montana knew about the “dark money” that Tester received. But if you feel the need to explore it more, then please feel free. And don’t forget to show and tell with the rest of the class.

      As for ‘what deal was struck’, it appears that it was support for the FJRA, something also well known to the Montana online. It involves trading Montana values like control of predatory species, creating timber jobs and increasing hunting access. What a monster that Tester must be!

      In the meantime, Tester is also supporting full labeling of genetically manufactured crops, protection of family farms from corporate raiders, veteran’s health care and full employment, equal pay for woman and other socialist nonsense. The guy’s a monster, I tell you!

      • Your opinions are so adorable! You’re like a kid in a toy store, everything so brand new to you. You do not know, nor do you care to know, where Tester’s dark money came from, or what he gave up for it. You folks are worse than corrupt – you are corrupt and hypocritical, worthy of the ninth circle. Democrats make me want to puke!

        • But you’re all right with Republicans? You know, the guys who want to force rape victims to bear their rapists babies. Who want tax payers’ money going to religious charter schools. Who want corporations to be able to buy elections. Who want landlords and employers to be able to discriminate against gays. Who want to defund FWP and kill every wolf in the state. Who want to defund food stamps and school lunch programs.

          These guys don’t make you puke? You must have a cast-iron stomach.

          • You merely highlight the fact that our choices are limited to you and the other party. but of the two, Democrats are worse, not on the mouthing of platitudes and policies, but on the failure to fight for those policies. You assume leadership and then do nothing with it, and that is a pukable offense. The other party sucks, but they do plainly say what they want. You lie, and therefore suck way, way more.

        • Funny, that. The facts seem to fit my ‘opinion’, and none of your silly assumptions. Now, run along and play, Pundet. The adults are talking here.

      • By the way, how do you hold the man accountable? When he lets you down, as he will, will you vote for him again (of course.) Any damned fool politician can say anything and sound good and buy off you true believers, but if there is no accountability, it’s not real.

        his financial backers have him on a leash. As a Democrat he’s allowed to say things that appeal to Democrats, even fake ones like you. That is on,ply to keep your in line, as he knows you won’t actually ever call him to account.

        It’s all a sham. You’re a joke, a pukable person.

        • Norma Duffy @Ilikewoods | February 2, 2013 10:03 AM at 10:03 AM |

          Mark, no one man within democracy can effect change without backing…. take you as a shining example. If there is fifty states at the table of Government every day for that one meal of turkey, then not everyone gets what he wants daily…that is, if he intends to share equally. So some days Montana will get slighted. but not every day, and not every meal. So one day we get the white meat another day we get the neck…. everyone eats.

          Your Idea of government right along with some teabag conservatives is you should get the Juicy parts of the bird daily, along with a second helping of everything else. Your restaurant mentality is exactly why this country is screwed up!

          No you dont get the best parts everyday, but you get to eat, and you share that with the others at the table.

  5. “SENATE RACE: Tester defeated Rehberg in November to win a second term in the U.S. Senate and solidify Democratic control of that chamber. The campaign was the most expensive in state history, including $21.4 million spent by the candidates and more than $25 million spent by unions, business groups and partisan committees. Tester won 49 percent of the vote compared to Rehberg’s 45 percent, with Libertarian Dan Cox’s 6 percent playing a role in the outcome.”

    “. The AP reports Tester spent $13.1 million on his race to win a second term over Republican Rep. Denny Rehberg, who spent $8.3 million. It was the spending by unions, partisan committees and other outside groups that pushed the total price tag up.”

    What drove the Race was the Crossroad Ads, pissed people off , i.e. Karl Rove Started it and Tester’s supporters said ok, you wanna play ….. “And while Tester was under relentless fire from TV ads by outside groups like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS, he had a little help from his own friends – labor, environmentalists, women’s groups – who not only bought some TV but also ran an aggressive, widespread ground game on his behalf.”

    “And while Tester was under relentless fire from TV ads by outside groups like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS, he had a little help from his own friends – labor, environmentalists, women’s groups – who not only bought some TV but also ran an aggressive, widespread ground game on his behalf.”

  6. Actually, Montana Hunters and Anglers are still around….they’re the ones pushing the bill to allow us old school Montanans to take our 6 year olds out huntin’. You can tell its a liberal bill, because the Helena IR endorsed it today.

    Just to be out road huntin’ with the youngin’s….that will be cool. Since they are little and wee, maybe some far sighted legislator will amend the bill to allow them to shoot deer, elk, and antelope out of the car window, so they don’t get so tired. And allow their daddies to drive off road to retrieve ’em, because Bud Light ain’t making us any more skinny and fit.

  7. Hmmm, not one word about Aaron Murfs new job with Hilltop. Did some poking around and that Strength And Security PAC that popped up? Well, it was run by John Edwards’ treasurer (of Rielle Hunter fame) and is headquartered at a Mail Boxes Etc in Washington DC. Oh, no secrets here, Dems are just so transparent and open and honest about THEIR money. Yah right.

    • Larry Kralj, Environmental Rangers | January 31, 2013 6:58 AM at 6:58 AM |

      Then what the hell are you WHINING about, skinner?! They’re all the same, in your appropriately humbel and illinformed opinion, so why should it make a difference which one won?

      Huh? Huh? Huh? Tester is Dopey, and Dopey is Tester, right? It’s your false equivalency taken to its logical conclusion!

    • Norma Duffy @Ilikewoods | January 31, 2013 11:04 AM at 11:04 AM |

      The Left really don’t give a rats ass were individual our Mail-boys and girls go to work at, after all we believe they made up their own minds to do that. we dontforce them to work in lefty circles, that is.

      Wonder what we would find if we really started snooping about where all the Conservative Mail-boys and girls went after their jobs with the GOP…. I believe it would be exactly the same Dave. Lobbyist job abound in your group as well!

      Another one of those Misdirection routes we lefties don’t want to waste our breath writing on.

    • Norma Duffy @Ilikewoods | February 2, 2013 10:16 AM at 10:16 AM |

      Dave who cares, Isn’t this your Idea of American success? You climb the Ladder of success dont you? Doesn’t each new job a person strives for a better version of the one before? Are you gonna tell me, that Michael Steele isn’t making Dough at MSNBC, or Geraldo Rivera wont use Fox news to launch a career in Politics. it is in Fact the same shit you are crying about isn’t it! Please stop making me laugh at you Hypocritical Bullshit!

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