More Charter Lies Skewered

After the Montana’s largest newspaper, the Billings Gazette, wrote a scathing editorial urging Montanans “Don’t Be Fooled by Charter’s Ballot Initiative,” the cable, phone, and internet giant appears to be desperately trying keep Montanans from finding out the truth about its proposed ballot initiative to force us to pay its taxes.

This in spite of the fact that the company has become somewhat of a national joke of late, inspiring websites like FU172 and causing bruising satire like this spoof video to go viral on Facebook and Twitter.

senior Charter executive wrote a guest opinion in the Gazette last week with more blatant untruths–urging Montanans to sign their ballot initiative to force Montanans to pay its taxes “for fairness.” They don’t want Montanans to know that if their ballot initiative passes, our taxes will go up while their profits soar.

Well the Billings Gazette responded to the Charter propoganda with a plain and clear rebuke, which you should definitely read:

If you have been asked to sign an I-172 petition to lower your cable bill as some Billings folks have been, know that’s not what the initiative would do.

Chuck Denowh, spokesman for Big Sky Broadband Coalition, says signature gatherers are supposed to say: “This is about preventing an increase in what people pay for cable and broadband.”

When signature gatherers ask us to sign for I-172, they are asking us to support a huge tax break for a company that has been in Montana for just a year and wants to overturn a Montana Supreme Court decision. And, yes, I-172 would make the rest of us pay higher taxes.

Cowgirl readers recall that Chuck Denowh was the former Executive Director of the Montana Republican Party, before leaving it to form a series of PACs and front-groups when the MT GOP name lost its luster.

Charter Communications is a multi-billion dollar corporation which is currently delinquent in paying its Montana taxes.  The corporation is seeking its own personal loophole to Montana laws, as I wrote about here, in hopes of getting out of their tax bill. The ballot initiative asks voters to cut Charter Communication’s property tax rate in half–and would leave Montanans holding the bag for the rest.



26 Comments on "More Charter Lies Skewered"

  1. In Montana, these cable companies change hands like I change socks: Optimum, Bresnan, TCI, Charter … Sorta tells you what kind of commitment they have to our state. They’re just in it for the profits and then a quick flip to Comcast, Time Warner, Cox, whomever. Anyway, for God’s sake, don’t sign the petition.

  2. I am starting to wonder if any ballot initiative will qualify for the ballot given low primary turnout combined with high vote-by-mail numbers.

    These people have paid signature gatherers who are going door to door, so maybe they will qualify which is frightening, but I’m wondering about the Monforton one to nullify the Affordable Care Act, the trapping initiatives, the gender equality in the legislature and the Medicaid expansion…seems like it would be hard to qualify these if they are volunteer driven given that so few people voted–and so few voted in person at the polls.

  3. So what can Montana do to get another company in here and be done with these guys? Is it even possible, and if not, is that good? And for whom?

    • robert petersen | June 16, 2014 9:25 PM at 9:25 PM |

      actually there have been many efforts to do this in other locales but the Corporations are doing their best to make it illegal for communities to take control of the information distribution in their area. Were it not for their interference we could enjoy the same high quality broadband service they have in Europe at a third what we pay here. They have 500 channels, wireless communication and 12MBPS broadband for about $34/month. And we’re supposed to be the country that invented innovation…

  4. I saw people tweeting a link to this. I know nothing about them and am not affiliated in anyway, just think its interesting:

    Treasure State Internet is a new ISP startup in Montana. We are committed to providing the fastest internet speeds, the best prices, and the best service available. We are expanding our network and coverage area significantly every few months, so please fill in the form below and we’ll let you know when we’re available in your area.

  5. The claim: “They don’t want Montanans to know that if their ballot initiative passes, our taxes will go up while their profits soar.”

    IF Charter, Optimum, and Bresnan didn’t pay these taxes over the years and merely challenging them now, how exactly does this cause the tax burden to grow on others? Haven’t Montana’s tax revenues been growing without considering the Charter challenge?

    BTW their service is lousy. They rank at the bottom nationwide. Montana’s regulators should be doing something about that since they operate as a monopoly in most places.

    • Craig, surely you know that biennial state budgets are set based on expected revenue and balanced on that expectation. To remove the funds owed by Charter means one of two things: higher taxes on the rest of us to pay for state services, or a cut of those services for the same (increasing) revenue you point to. Either way, that spells higher taxes of the citizens of the state. If I proposed a ballot initiative that would forgive me all of my property taxes in the future (but not anyone else’s) y’all would think I was nuts, right? It would be clear that the pittance I would no longer pay would all have to be covered by you. The question should be: how is I-172 any different?

      I agree with you about Charter’s service, by the way. It is verifiable worse than Optimum. Their peak-hours streaming speeds are actually worse than we had back with DSL. The awful part of the monopoly is this, when 172 goes down in defeat no doubts Charter will go the PSC demanding a rate hike to ‘pay for improved service’, finding yet another way to funnel public money to private profit.

      • This is why so much power in a 5-member board is troubling.

      • Rob, for the year ended June 30, 2013, Montana ran a budget surplus of $537.2 million. No need to raise taxes on anyone.

        • And this is your argument for giving one company a tax-break? How ’bout this: I don’t pay my property taxes this year. Would you stand for me in defense at trial and claim that state didn’t really need the money?

          No. I didn’t think so.

          • If you had actually read my first comment here, you would have found I made no such argument. I don’t give a crap Charter. I just want to know the basis for saying as a fact, that taxes are going up if they win at the ballot. Calling Charter a liar is one thing, and I happen to agree they are as to customer service. Making an unfounded and unsupported statement about taxes necessarily going up is another. I look forward to something better than the misrepresentation you presented attacking me.

  6. Yeah and that has meant higher mill levies….

  7. Larry Kralj, Environmental Rangers | June 16, 2014 1:12 PM at 1:12 PM |

    Greed is good…………………………………..


  8. Denowh a ‘political hack’ on steroids, selling himself to the highest bidders like deep-pockets Charter!

  9. OT. The US leads Ghana 1-0 at the 70 minute mark in their World Cup match. Go U-S-A!!!!!

  10. The man that approached me will the petition, on Sunday, said “it was to prevent Charter’s Taxes from going up 300 percent”

    Told him to get lost

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    you’ve hit the nail on the head. The issue is an iissue that too few menn and women are speaking intelligently about.

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