National Watchdog Group Profiles Jason Priest’s Dark Money Group

Michael Beckel has just published a new profile on the dark money group a GOP state senator used to influence the Montana state Supreme Court race and block the Medicaid expansion.

The profile shows how Priest used dark money to demonize Supreme Court candidates Ed Sheehy and Elizabeth Best in support of a TEA Party candidate.  Priest also used the dark money group to send out attack mailers to kill the Medicaid expansion.  Because of Priest’s actions, 70,000 of Montanan’s most disadvantaged working poor won’t be able to get health care. 

Beckel, who writes for the Center for Public Integrity, published the report on the heels of a new analysis by the National Institute on Money in State Politics that found Montana is one of 35 states where rules regarding the disclosure of political spending by independent groups are less stringent than federal election law.

There’s much more on this, so check out the links in Beckel’s story above.


45 Comments on "National Watchdog Group Profiles Jason Priest’s Dark Money Group"

  1. Note McKinnon’s – Priest’s choice – voted to put Beach back into prison, a shocking MT supreme court outcome. Elections DO matter.


    I believe Commissioner of Political Practices still has an ongoing investigation into Senator’s Priest’s ‘activities’.

  3. I found the story pretty biased. Guy doesn’t even mention Jim Murry’s long association with AFL CIO, which of course supported Worst — who really was gunning for SC and DID in fact try to usurp the legislature with that warminust, forum-shopping lawsuit. She would have been disastrous.

  4. Left in Billings | May 16, 2013 5:49 PM at 5:49 PM |

    Did anyone see that Baucus’s own media firm seems to have been busted as the source of the Montana Streetfighter blog, which praises Baucus and trashes Schweitzer? Media Tracker showed that all of the content is coming directly from Bob Funk’s facebook page, immediately after he posts it. Funk works for Baucus’s old hand, Barrett Kaiser. Hahahaha(cough-choke-gasp)hahahaha!!!!!!

  5. Its on the @MediaTrackersMT Twitter feed | May 16, 2013 9:31 PM at 9:31 PM |

    We’ve got lots of screenshots showing this is Hilltop Public Solutions. Check out @MediaTrackersMT on twitter

  6. Its on the @MediaTrackersMT Twitter feed | May 16, 2013 9:32 PM at 9:32 PM |

    Now here is a screenshot we took of @bobfunk‘s facebook profile. Notice the profile pic. #MTpol…— Media Trackers MT (@MediaTrackersMT) May 16, 2013

  7. Its on the @MediaTrackersMT Twitter feed | May 16, 2013 9:33 PM at 9:33 PM |

    Why are screenshots from inside @bobfunk‘s facebook profile being posted on @mtstreetfighter? See bottom right #MTpol…— Media Trackers MT (@MediaTrackersMT) May 16, 2013

  8. Its on the @MediaTrackersMT Twitter feed | May 16, 2013 9:33 PM at 9:33 PM |

    Here is a more close up shot of the pic posted on @mtstreetfighter on May 13. Again see bottom right. #MTpol…— Media Trackers MT (@MediaTrackersMT) May 16, 2013

    • First, MediaTracker Stooge, your claim was that ‘MTStreetfighter works for Baucus and hates Schweitzer’. Yet the very screenshots you post show *support* for Schweitzer. This is another case where you really don’t have a clue what you’re doing, isn’t it?

      Apparently, because secondly, even if you can prove that Bob Funk is behind MTStreetfighter (which remains in some doubt), you can’t prove that a) Baucus is paying the way for this, or b) that it isn’t just Bob Funk doing what he wants, or c) that this horrific *scandal* involves Dark Money at all!

      Thirdly, and this is the part that has the Montana web-community laughing at you’re sorry website, you post crap attempting to ‘out’ people online as political operatives when obviously they ARE political operatives while ridiculously attempting to maintain anonymity yourself. That kind of stupid irony is a joke too rich to pass up, especially when you yourself don’t even understand why it’s so very funny.

  9. Matthew Koehler | May 17, 2013 8:00 AM at 8:00 AM |

    Democrat or Republican…..

    Hilltop Public Solutions or Montana Growth Network…

    These anonymous, dark money groups suck & are the biggest threat to American democracy. Rise up, expose all these dark money groups and together we can stop them.

    • I agree with Matt. Your work on dark money is commendable, and you should move forward despite the obstacles. Next up, seek out the sources of the money that elected Jon Tester, and the implications thereof. What does that dark money want in return?

      It cannot be that dark money is sinister when used for one party but not the other. Also, it’s a good time for the Cowgirl staff to come out of the shadows and reveal your own sources of finance. Transparency for all, dark shadows for none!

    • Ignoring Mark’s pointless and clueless paranoid rant, for once I agree with Matthew (I know, they are probably issuing Iceskates in hell). Corporatism and the dark money that supports it IS the single largest threat to a Democratic Society at this point. Three things have to happen and they have to happen SOON – 1) Citizen’s United has to be overturned, 2) 501 (c) (3) organizations and 501 (c) (4) organizations have to be better clarified so that they do not become political shell corporations buying elections and 3) our campaign finance laws have to be reworked so that the voters decide elections, not how much money is spent on them. Smaller, more answerable government is far more effecient and would better serve the people.

      • My remark was not pointless, clueless or paranoid.

        I want to know where the money that elected Tester came from. That’s not a small point.

        I’m hardly clueless, in fact, take politics to a much higher level than I’ve seen you do. I’ve gone back to the progressive era for clues as to why our vote is so meaningless (Hint: it has to do with 19th Amendment, and now universal suffrage. But you’ve got them Kailey genes going, so I need explain nothing to you.)

        Paranoid would have to do with people out to get me, being afraid, carrying a gun into the woods because I’m skeered o dem mean ol’ bars, like you. No one is out to get me. I do not live in fear, as most Americans do. I’m probably the least paranoid person here.

        So you’re wrong on three counts and haven’t any depth regarding politics to boot. All things considered, I’d leave me alone if I were you.

    • Ignoring Mark’s (Pubicius II),who is banned from this site for other pointless and clueless paranoid rants, and continues to troll here………..

      Matthew, Your absolutely right. the sooner we close the 501(c)(4) tax loopholes for all Parties the sooner the BUllshit, and dark money will disappear.

      • Mark, Pundit,Pubicius II.Pubicius and whatever you decide to call yourself in the future,

        You have been banned from this site a total of 3 times now.

        You do have cyberbullying Laws enacted in your state of Colorado, that does include jerk adults like you who do not get the Banned message.

        So do not be surprised if a complaint to the authorities about you finds its way to your home town cops, and ISP provider if you do not leave………….. Last and final warning!!!!

    • I’m going to have to disagree with Mr. Koehler here. Dark money is *not* the biggest threat to Democracy today. Radicalization in the Internet age is, but that’s a discussion for another time. Dark money has proven itself far less effective than it’s hype would actually have us believe.

      I watched ex-Senator Russ Feingold tell an audience of willing believers that Dark Money cost him his Senate seat, and then go on to explain that it was actually Tea Party style radicalization in the rural areas of a state that elected Michele Bachmann. It’s the underpants gnome theory of politics:
      1) Collect lots of money anonymously.
      2) ???
      3) Profit!
      In 2012, many political hopefuls who outspent their opponents were defeated. Many political hopefuls underwritten with tonnes of Dark Money were defeated. How exactly did that happen?

      The Dark Money conspiracists will tell you that if a politician won, it was because of Dark Money. Their proof, just like Russ Feingold’s, is that the politician won. Look at Mark Pubichair’s comments. It is that exact circular reasoning. Pubeboy is so very concerned about Tester’s Dark Money, simply because Tester won. That stems from the initial bias that Dark Money will win any election. No, it won’t. That’s been proven time and again, but that isn’t what anybody really wants to look at. Senator Elizabeth Warren, anyone? It’s not a fact, it’s fear. So get over it.

      No doubts Pubeboy and/or Koehler will ponce on in and tell me that I’m just defending Democrats against their obviously valid accusations that factually aren’t valid at all. No, I’m not. If I was half the Democratic party stooge they think I am, I would be kissing Feingold’s butt every time he laments that Dark Money bought the seat for Johnson. Those two or others will probably point out that I *obviously don’t care about Dark Money*!!! Wrong, it is a problem, a huge problem of corporatism, just as Moorcat pointed out. But corporatism itself does not buy elections or governance. It impedes it. So, while we focus on exposing Dark Money (notice that very few understand that ‘exposing it’ won’t stop it), how about we focus on information without the assumption of purchase? Hmmm…

      • Apologies, upon re-reading. I have Bachmann disdain on the brain. Feingold was from Minnesota’s neighbor Wisconsin. The state which elected Scott Walker. I think my point stands.

      • I can accept that radicalization in the Information age is a larger problem but I have less of a clue how to actually address it. I am also aware that Dark Money – in and of itself is a problem, but not one that is unaddressable. I absolutely agree that exposing dark money fails to address the issue.

        Case in Point – Mark’s personal boogieman, Senator Tester. Senator Tester won against an opponent that was better funded, polled by the media as having a disadvantage against his opponent for most of the election cycle and reviled publically on many LEFT leaning blogs. The attacks against Senator Tester were seen even here. And yet, he won. Why? I have a few ideas of my own, but I welcome any (intellegent) reasoning for why that occured.

        Mark wants to bring up Senator Tester’s financing because he is already aware that Senator Tester accepted money from corporations of entities that tinfoil hat Mark despises. That said, it is a reality of today’s politics that money does matter (even if it isn’t to the extent many believe it is).

        My concern is the blatent Corporatism and the Dark Money is just one symptom of that disease. In my opinion, I would like to see “K” street burnt to the ground and the ground be salted. Until the issue of peddled influence is resolved, this will continue to be a problem. I salute Senator Tester’s resolve to ignore as much of the peddled influence as possible, but politicians like him are few and far between.

        As to the issue of Radicalization in media (and the Internet is just one part of that equation), I will leave that to smarter people than I. I welcome any insight you might have on that issue.

      • I don’t think dark money is the “All” of the problems regarding the radicalization of some people in our country, but it does fuel it…. and if you deprive a fire of fuel…. it dies. it is one of many problems, and I think it is a good start for all of us!

  10. What’s behind your title Pubicius? Mine is drawn from the central proponent in the Federalist Papers which are essential documents of our Nation. ‘Vox Populi’ i say.

    • Mine is just a pun, turning Publius from public to pubic. Nothing personal, nothing about you or your comments here.

  11. Full disclosure in real time would be nice. It’s not just Hilltop, or Common Cause, or Montana Growth.
    The 501c3 game is much worse, AND tax deductible. I don’t hear anything saying much about that, because it would be bad for favored causes.

  12. Montana Forward | May 18, 2013 11:16 AM at 11:16 AM |

    Man…all we want on the left is to smoke a little medical marijuana! Why all the dark money groups? Even our own beloved Bullock…Even Bullock! Wow! This is amazing!

    Media Trackers Montana has discovered that Bob Funk, a former staffer for Democratic U.S. Senator Jon Tester, and current employee of the Washington, D.C.-based Hilltop Public Solutions, is likely behind the anonymous left-wing blog “Montana Street Fighter.”

    Montana Street Fighter popped up during the 2012 election and and its posts generally promote Democratic candidates and causes in Montana while being critical of conservatives. The blog has had a specific focus on the upcoming 2014 U.S. Senate election.

    The Montana Street Fighter Logo.

    On May 13, Street Fighter posted about former Gov. Brian Schweitzer’s keynote address to the Montana AFL-CIO convention in Billings on May 11, while speculating about Schweitzer’s potential candidacy for U.S. Senate.

    After the post, this Facebook screenshot was shown of a Bozeman Daily Chronicle poll showing Schweitzer winning a potential match-up against Montana’s current Republican U.S. Rep. Steve Daines. However, the author neglected to edit out the bottom right picture indicating whose Facebook profile the screenshot was taken from.

    Comparing that screenshot with the Facebook profile picture of Bob Funk, it appears that the screenshot of the poll was taken from inside Funk’s Facebook profile.

    The next day Funk’s picture had been edited out of the post. Media Trackers Montana also discovered that Funk deleted his Facebook profile shortly after the post.

    Hilltop Public Solutions has gained notoriety in Montana in recent months as the political consulting firm behind numerous Democratic candidates and independent expenditure campaigns statewide. Hilltop is currently accused of allegedly facilitating illegal coordination between the 2012 campaign of Gov. Steve Bullock and third party groups in a 277-page complaint that is currently before the Commissioner of Political Practices.

    • Larry Kralj, Environmental Rangers. | May 18, 2013 4:13 PM at 4:13 PM |

      Good god you’re a diphsit, little fella. Here, this is for you! Your saint was not such a great guy.

    • Larry your right. this guy is a feller with on fire pants

      • Larry Kralj, Environmental Rangers. | May 20, 2013 7:35 AM at 7:35 AM |

        I truly do get a kick outta these little dipshits like Empty (Mt) Forward. For you see, it’s just like the Teatards and all their little catch words and bullshit. When you ask them what “freedom” means to them, they can’t tell you. When you ask the little patriots just WHAT they love about the country, they can’t tell you. And when you ask little reetards like Empty (Mt) Forward just WHAT it means to “move Montana forward, they wet down both legs! I ask them to just WHERE do you want to move Montana to? Huh? Huh? Huh?

        They can’t answer.

        They are simply empty sound bites and Kocking talking points. They are unable to formulate a coherent, well-reasoned response. Hence, I challenge this little dipshit to come back and actually EXPLAIN in detail the place where he wants to take Montana! Is it to endless pipelines like Keystone, and open pit mines, and fracking up the water in the entire state? Just WHERE does this little dipshit want to move Montana to?

        I think that dipshit boy would find that MOST Montanans do NOT share his “vision” of Shitville, Montana! For one need only to travel to any OTHER part of the country to visit Shitville! Why would we want that here???

        But alas, he’s a dumbass! And won’t answer, because he can’t. He’s very much like ex-guv marky ratco. Gov. Ratco was ENDLESSLY farting such nonsense. He was the master at it. He’s a pro, as in prophylactic! The one he wears on his head!

        I’ll never forget one of his more famous proposals. He was going to “double” the amount of irrigated land in Montana. Sounds great, right? Sounds like moving Montana forward, right? Sounds like a giant fart, right? RIGHT! For when asked just WHERE he was gonna get the extra water, he couldn’t answer!

        These little dipshits are all the same. How ’bout it, Empty boy? You gonna answer, weenie? I thought not. See you later.

  13. The Ignorant Right have become a national security threat. It’s time we started paying more attention to the harm they’re doing to us with respect to the environment, civil rights, education, health and safety, and national defense.

    They run the Republican Party, which is actively working against our country and for a handful of millionaires and billionaires.

    They’re traitors.

  14. Justice McKinnon a “TEA party candidate”? Hardly, although of course she got the support of anyone right of center given the political tilt of the other two candidates in the race. She also got the support of most informed left-wingers I know in the general election match-up against Sheehy, who would have been an absolute disaster on the Supreme Court. Yeah, Priest is bad news to the gills, but Cowgirl does herself a disservice with the McKinnon bashing. I’ve never voted for an R or donated to one, but McKinnon over Sheehy was a no-brainer. Nels Swandal she is not.

    • Larry Kralj, Environmental Rangers. | May 20, 2013 6:46 PM at 6:46 PM |

      A dink like pervert priest should NEVER have enough power to knock out a candidate like Elizabeth Best. Pervert priest is happy to suck the big Kockh brothers all the way to the detriment of democracy and Montana.

  15. Larry Kralj, Environmental Rangers. | May 20, 2013 7:39 PM at 7:39 PM |

    THANK GOD! THE BIG KOCKHS ARE SAFE! The Big Kochk Brothers survived the deadly tornadoes! Thank GOD!

    Oh sure, a bunch of school kids died. But that’s a small price to pay, for the Big Kockh brothers, well into their seventies now, are still alive!


    There is NO climate change, even thought these storms are exactly what the computer models predict. The Big Kockhs don’t WORRY ’bout no climate change, for when one is in their seventies, it don’t really matter none anyway! Hence, the Big Kockhs FUND all the climate change deniers!


    And let up proceed full speed ahead with the Kochk/Keystone pipeline!


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