Update on Mailergate, and How You Can Take Action

mailergateThe question that everyone wants answered right now is: who paid for two Stanford “researchers” and one researcher Dartmouth College to send 100,000 fake “voter guides” into Montana, with the look and feel of official state voter guides.  You can see the fake voter guides on the Flathead Memo here. Stanford has apologized, Dartmouth has been silent.  Stanford is also claiming it to have been a part of a political science “study” to see how injecting partisanship into our non-partisan Supreme Court election would effect voters.

There are a few strange circumstances surrounding this whole thing, and we need answers. First, understand that what the mailers actually say isn’t “Paid for by Stanford and Dartmouth” but rather, “Paid for by researchers at Stanford University and Dartmouth College.”  This is an important distinction.  It means, perhaps, that the University staff might have  gotten funds for the project from an outside source.  That happens very often  as corporate influence grows in academia. Stanford and Dartmouth faculty, as is the case in many major universities, often work for hire and make good money doing it.  We know that Stanford and the Hewlett Foundation apparently paid for some of this research, but we do not know if they funded all of it or which parts.

Say I am a professor of political science at one of these schools.  I learn that Stanford University prohibits research funded by the tobacco industry.  No problem.  I have my own company for that.  I accept the funds not through Stanford, but through my private research or consulting firm, and yet I still allow Phillip Morris to say the research I did “was conducted by Stanford Professor Dr. Jane Smith.”  See how this works?

This very thing, in fact, caused a big controversy a few years ago between former Governor Brian Schweitzer and a law professor at the University of Montana.  She published a “study” in which she concluded that the tax climate in Montana was bad for business.  Unfortunately, the study was not commissioned or funded by the University but by a private group, the Tax Foundation, which consists of a bunch of right-wing economic imbeciles who spend 40 hours a week worshipping Ronald Reagan.  I think this is how many major schools are able to take advantage of corporate money.

We don’t know whether these Dartmouth and Stanford researchers were using such funds, but it is something that I am looking forward to finding out.  What if a conservative think tank funded the project?  It would be a wholesale corruption of academia and of politics; actually, it’d be corruption by academia of politics.

Although it’s  too early to tell what’s going on,  the #mtpol crowd took to twitter today to rail against Dartmouth and Stanford, as if these universities had launched a full scale invasion against Montana.   We should all take a deep breath.  The state of Montana will still be here Monday, ill conceived though the mailer may have been. Even Jon Tester got into the act, sending a letter to the Postmaster General demanding that he investigate whether federal law has been broken, and sending a letter to  Stanford’s President John Hennessy and Dartmouth’s president Philip Hanlon, seeking answers.  This comes on the heals of a Linda McCulloch press conference yesterday which kicked things off, which she followed up today by filing a formal complaint with the Commissioner of Political Practices.

Basic questions abound and need answers.  For one thing, how can a learned professional who is an expert in politics and government not understand the nature of a mailer that links a candidate in Montana to president Obama, who is at 27% job approval?  How could they not understand the basic rules of political practices?  Conversely, why would anyone think that a single mailer, which most people glance at and then toss along with 30 other political mailers that arrive at their home, create a measurable effect to be studied in a lab?  I assume that these professors were going poll voters who received the mailer, and compare it to a poll of voters who did not, and then see if the mailer had any effect on the recipients.  It just seems kind of silly, given the amount of mail flying around on the judicial race, that these researchers could somehow test the efficacy of the mailer of their choice.  Finally, what of the ethical question at the root of this? Namely, should a University be using a state as a petri dish, meddling with our political process and causing real-world results to the citizens of Montana?  Doesn’t that cross the line? And what if these professors are, in fact, getting paid by a right-leaning entity so that the Stanford and Dartmouth names are stamped on this effort, to disguise it as a research project?

Unfortunately, both Dartmouth nor Stanford refused say precisely where the money came from.  That’s not good, and it entitled us to speculate wildly. I also wonder whether the Stanford University and Dartmouth College faculty senate have even heard of this controversy, or if so, whether they will take action.  They need to get in the game and should probably do an investigation of their own.  Recall that it was the faculty senate, not the President, that forced Stanford University to ban funding and grants from Big Tobacco for research and development, and to divest the endowment from tobacco stocks. How can Cowgirl Blog readers take action?  Give the presidents of Stanford and Dartmouth a shout, and ask them why they are treating our voters like guinea pigs.

President John Hennesy
Dartmouth College President Philip Hanlon

President’s.Office@Dartmouth.edu Phone: 603-646-2223

And, let the faculty senates know what’s going on. Russell Berman is Chair of the Stanford University Faculty Senate.  He can be reached at:650 723 1069 / 650 723-1068


Dean Michael Mastanduno is the Chair of the Dartmouth College Committee of Chairs of the Arts and Sciences Faculty michael.mastanduno@dartmouth.edu 603-646-3999

It might be good to send them both some of the local media reports for background.  Here’s the most recent.   They should also be asked to demand that these professors disclose who paid for this disaster.

Judy Goldstien is Chair of the Department of Political Science at Stanford.  She is also a member of the Faculty Senate judy@stanford.edu (650) 723 0671

John Michael Carey is Chair of the Department of Government at Dartmouth john.m.carey@dartmouth.edu 603-646 1130

It is important to know that Prof. Adam Bonica, one of the authors of the study, is a member of Chair Judy Goldstien’s Political Science Dept.  It would be good to ask her why Bonica is meddling in Montana’s elections? Did she know about this?  What will she do about this?  Does she know who paid for it?  Kyle Dropp is under Professor Carey.  What does he know about Kyle Tropp’s meddling in our elections?

Richard P. Saller is Dean of School of Humanities & Sciences and  he is an ex Officio member Faculty Senate

The Stanford Department of Political Science is part of the  School of Humanities.  He needs to be asked the same questions posed to Dept. Chair Judy Goldstein.



37 Comments on "Update on Mailergate, and How You Can Take Action"

  1. If Wheat wins the election, it will be because people think VanDyke is too conservative. If VanDyke wins (slim chance), then it will be because Wheat is too liberal. Both candidates are tainted and the people of Montana can not have any faith in the outcome of the election. The obvious solution is to disqualify both candidates and have a special election.

    • (Not to be confused with Peter.) Disqualifying both candidates and having a special election is a terrible idea. There’s really no question as to who’s the most qualified.

      • Another possibility is appointing our judges, which David Parker mentioned earlier today. Still, you’re just kicking the can down the road in that the dark money for the governor’s races will just be immense.

        And what would you have to do to even begin to appoint judges, amend the Montana Constitution? God, can you imagine what a constitutional convention election might look like, how wild and crazy the spending could be there?

        I’m sure someone’s thinking about it. I’m sure someone’s thinking about it real good while they sharpen their knives and stare at the map.

        • How many Judges currently on the court were appointed besides Wheat and Rice? Would Wheat have been appointed by an R governor? Would Rice have been appointed by a D governor? Don’t tell me the court is nonpartisan. Just like the US Supreme Court is nonpartisan.

      • I remember you having similar concerns when dark money put Tester’s sorry ass in office.

        Oh, wait, no. Then you didn’t wonder about the source of the money. Must have been Peter.

  2. Hey I hate to tell you this Peter but Wheat has already been on the court for 5 years and somehow the world didn’t end through supposed liberal domination. He seems to be a pretty straight shooter.

  3. Nine days till election and you men still posing hypotheticals!

  4. Larry Kralj, Environmental Rangers | October 24, 2014 9:36 PM at 9:36 PM |

    Gregg Standingturd is doing some heavy lifting on this one. Hey, maybe he ISN’T a dink after all! Go, greggy. Get’er done, dude!


    Maybe he IS from Butte after all! We’ll see how long he lasts!

  5. This is a very bad development that will undoubtedly inflame the anti-black-prez crowd. We in MT deserve answers, even if they can’t unring the bell.

  6. You live in the corrupt world on Montana politics. You are part of the corruption. You support corrupt candidates. You put a “D” by their name, like an imprimatur, and wash them clean even as they live and breathe money and influence, ignoring voters other than to diddle them with 30-second ads every two, four or six years. The ads lie about intentions and records. They are effective.

    Then corruption bites you in the ass. Pardon me while I have a good hearty laugh. You’ve been hoisted on your own petard, injured by the very device by which you injure others. This is ripe with justice.

  7. The Montana Watchdog is fast asleep. So well-trained, it only barks upon command.

  8. Larry Kralj, Environmental Rangers | October 25, 2014 8:08 AM at 8:08 AM |

    Who paid for this crap? Who wants to buy themselves their own personal Van Dink supreme court judge? Well, the obvious answer would be the Big Kockhs, and that’s a good guess. And then there’s the Wee Willy texass christofascist Wilks brothers, the mother frackers!

    But I would turn my attention if I were doing the research to the lesser known billionaire dumbass down south there, the moron who claims that he owns the Ruby River, the dufus that don’t want floaters floating by on HIS river, a dink who would just LUV to undo our stream access laws! And that imbecile would be james kenutty COCKS! And the first person who can prove me wrong gets a case of cold beer!

    Yep. I’m puttin’ my money on mr. cocks, a billionaire transplant who THINKS he can own a river! Well, I’ll got a new movie comin’ out for mr. cocks called, The Bullshit Runs Through It!, ’bout a dufus billionaire who gets his comeuppance in Montana!

  9. I’d like to see Cowgirl’s source for Bonica. Only Dr. Rodden is listed as a Hoover Fellow. Bonica was affiliated with a Princeton institute, Center for the Study of Democratic Politics, that has no apparent political philosophy.

    The mailer was not funded by anyone’s “company.” It was funded by a grant from the Hewlett Foundation “For support of the Spatial Social Science Lab’s research on campaign and elections”:

    Grant Description: Stanford University’s Spatial Social Science Lab provides a collaborative environment for research and training on geography in the social sciences. We first came to appreciate the work of Stanford University political scientists affiliated with the Lab, including Jonathan Rodden (who directs the Lab) and Adam Bonica, through their participation in the Foundation’s Solutions to Polarization workshop. Their papers on the relationship between political geography and polarization, and on innovative ways of equipping voters with better information on candidates for office, were very well received. This general support for program grant will help underwrite their ongoing research agendas on these and related topics.

  10. Can you describe the voter’s guide so I can look through my stuff and find it? I would like to look at what the cover looks like and the wording, etc. Thanks!

  11. Did any of you take a look at any of the papers on the site, look at the methodologies? The DIME database has been around for several years now and is amazingly comprehensive stuff, that follows the money for extended periods of time and seems rather robust.
    Judgepedia used DIME two years ago to rank the MT Supremes as the sixth most liberal in the nation, ahead of Vermont and just behind Washington State. It also ranks the justices. Nelson’s the most leftie, Wheat in second place, Rice the only conservative. (McKinnon was not ranked yet.)
    No wonder you kids are freaking out. It’s good academic work that voters deserve access to, of benefit to both liberal and conservative voters who have gotten dang little information on the candidates.
    The hypocrisy here stuns me. But thanks for the information on where to send support to Dart and Stan.

    • Mr. Skinner: What’s your position on Stanford and Dartmouth using The Great Seal of the State of Montana?

      • Larry Kralj, Environmental Rangers | October 25, 2014 5:58 PM at 5:58 PM |

        High Point, good point! But you see, they used to say that prison was like a college for criminals. But no more. NOW, they say that Stanford and Dartmouth is the place to go to learn REAL criminal skills! Like Dave Skinflute himself, you can get an advance degree in Bullshitology! an up and coming degree for the Inbred crowd! And then, if you show promise, and pass your APK (Advanced Placement KNEE pad test), you can go on to join Loser Van Dink and tiny tim fox as influential members a-TTACHED to the giant member, the Big Kockh!

        These are some really sick mofos, people. Kick their asses! Hell, even the nutless PRESS in this state is finally finding their Rocky Mountain Oysters! And it’s about damn TIME! They live here too ferrchissakes! No free passes for inbred morons, reetarats, Jaysus jumpers, inbreds, and christofascist BUG nuts! Let’s bring the state back to reality together, shall we?? If you want a f*ckin’ CREATION museum, move the f*ck to Tennessee! They just LUV inbreds there!

        Fortunately, we’re not like that here in Montana. Press, do your job! Adams, Dennison, Johnson? We’re countin’ on you, dudes. Which side are you on, boys? Which side are you on???

        Been up in the Bearttoohs lately, fellas? If not. It’s time. Get your heads right. It’s time!

        • Larry Kralj, Environmental Rangers | October 25, 2014 8:26 PM at 8:26 PM |

          And, fellas, if you ever want to join me on a float down the Ruby, by GOD come along! We can ALL take a giant SHIT on james kennutless cocks private river! I guaran f*cking TEE you that you’ve never had a bowel movement that felt SO good! Which side are you on, boys, which side are you on???

          • Larry Kralj, Environmental Rangers | October 25, 2014 8:41 PM at 8:41 PM |

            And to my Teatard inbred bugnutz reetart pals. THIS is what America looks like! Black,white! AMERICANS making music together! F*CK you inbred Jaysus jumpin’ brian fischer assholes! WE’RE the REAL America! We don’t need to go back to SHIT! You inbreds need to come BACK to the future! Take the Big Kockh brother outta your orifices and come join AMERICA! It’s time.

      • They could have gotten away with just using the flag, which has the great seal. Obviously, the wonks don’t know how anally territorial certain rube politicians can be.
        McC’s complain doesn’t mention the seal, just “impersonation” but perhaps someone should ding the Trial Lawyers (oops, their front, Montanans for Liberty and Justice) for producing that Voter Information Pamphlet clone “judicial voting guide.” GMAFB.

  12. Did any of you read the paper? “The study did not follow Stanford’s protocols that would have required a review by the Stanford IRB.” http://www.sfgate.com/news/article/Stanford-apologizes-for-Montana-election-mailers-5844346.php

    • Tell me, HOW IN THE HECK CAN OBJECTIVE INFORMATION like the DIME protocols have a bad result on the election, if they are the truth — and they certainly appear to be. I guess the Dems don’t want voters to be told the obvious?
      Did you kids know that Judgepedia used the DIME materials to score Supreme Courts for ideology in all 50 states, and that Montana has the sixth most liberal? Montana is not the slxth most liberal state in America, which tells you our supreme court’s makeup is an outlier — and the MTLA cadre likes it that way, as does the Democratic Party.

  13. Matty, if you’d read the DIME stuff, you’d know the zero point is at the center. That’s how the stuff is scaled, the minus side being liberal, the plus side conservative.

  14. And the US Supreme Court might hear the Florida Bar,
    and force corrupt duopoly politics into selection of
    ?State and Federal Judges?

    Yet another result of 5-4 Supreme Court decision
    dis-uniting Citizens.

  15. The question raised as to who whom donated moneys to Stanford and Dartmouth, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation funded this project. The foundation is liberal California foundation with assets in the eight figure range.

    • The money question has not been fully answered. We don’t know if CrowdPac contributed money to the study or money to the professors. We also don’t know if the study was for CrowdPac, rather than for “science.” Nor do we know if Stanford itself is an investor in CrowdPac.

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