At the Flathead Memo, James Conner explains why Republicans are unlikely to adopt Monforton’s closed primary resolution. As usual, it’s a good analysis.
At the Missoula Independent, reporter Ted McDermott has an incredible piece on a Montana militia member who organized militia types from around the U.S. to descend on Cliven Bundy’s ranch and claims to have led Bundy’s militia battles during the Nevada rancher’s standoff with the BLM.
The militia member, an Anaconda man named Ryan Payne who lives “off the grid” with his grandparents, also shares his troubling conspiracy theories. These include his belief that slavery never took place in the U.S., and why he believes his fight was “just the first battle in the fight to reclaim America.” Here’s Freedom Fighter.
Brought to You by ALEC
Anyone who cares about politics should watch the new expose by Montana PBS, Brought to You by ALEC which sends a reporter along with Montana legislators to a conference of the American Legislative Exchange Council or ALEC. As Cowgirl readers know, ALEC is the bane of workaday Montanans’ existence. It’s corporate America’s mainline to corrupting the lawmaking process. At resorts in closed-door “summits” they write “model bills” and instruct GOP state legislators to force them through back home.
The PBS expose includes some telling interviews with Republican state legislators Sen. Roger Webb (R-Billings) and Rep. Dan Salomon (R-Ronan). Roger Webb is the guy who was convicted of beating and shooting his neighbors’s pets Katie and Alli, both black labs. Salomon is known for his outrage over the fact that Congress dared to ask a few ALEC members and donors for their views on “stand your ground” legislation, which was an ALEC boilerplate bill. ALEC found itself facing a mass exodus of major donors after it became public that the stand your ground laws were ALEC’s doing.
Anyway, the documentary has some great moments. There’s the clip of Dan Salomon at 11:25 starting to explain how the public isn’t allowed into the ALEC tasks forces. He then catches himself midstream and says the actually doesn’t know if the public is locked out.
Then there’s the moment at 7:05 when Roger Webb admits the bulk of ALEC’s revenue comes from corporate donors with a vested interest in the legislation they’re pushing. He says this doesn’t bother him in the least, because to him ALEC funding this is no different than businesses supporting Girl Scouts and Little League – two organizations that, I would point out, don’t make state law.
Then there are the several shots of TEA Party leader Art Wittich lunching at the ALEC conference. Wittich is not interviewed in the video. Presumably he was smarter than Webb and Salomon and refused. To be sure, the report should have included footage of Wittich refusing to be interviewed on camera. It also should have looked more into all of the various ALEC bills introduced in Montana, instead of just focusing on one.
But overall the expose was well done. By far the best part of the video comes toward the end, where Montana Family Foundation leader Jeff Laszloffy claims on camera –over and over again–that there was “no connection, absolutely none” between his public school privatization campaign and bill last session and ALEC.
The reporter then shows how Laszloffy’s bill is almost a word for word copy of the ALEC model bill. When Laszloffy tries to claim that charter schools aren’t for-profit corporations, and the piece shows financial and investment reports showing the high profitability of these private charter schools. The documentary also exposes how ALEC funded the PR campaign Laszloffy used to push these private charter schools in Montana–and many other connections between ALEC and the Montana Family Foundation.
These connections include jointly funded surveys by ALEC and the Family Foundation and articles trumpeting the Family Foundation private school push, all of which appear in Laszloffy’s groups legislative testimony. The ALEC bill Laszloffy was caught on tape lying about was sponsored by Austin Knudson. You can watch the entire expose online here. Kudos to Montana PBS reporter Anna Rau and all the PBS staff involved in this report.