Shipp has been running the Montana GOP for about six months now. I say “harmless” because while the job of a Party director is to make effective criticism of the incumbent democratic Governor and other Democrats, Shipp has decided to resort to an impotent line of attack against Bullock.
Shipp, in case you haven’t noticed, does little other than spend the day tweeting about Bullock being a “hypocrite about dark money.”
What Shipp tries to argue is that Bullock is somehow not a good governor because while he has worked hard on legislation to require stricter reporting of money in campaigns, Bullock is also the chairman of the Democratic Governors Association (DGA) which has a history, like its counterpart the RGA, of raising and spending corporate dough, some of which is not reported. Dark money means funds whose source is not disclosed. Shipp believes that this makes Bullock a hypocrite.
There are a few problems with Shipp’s ongoing screed. First, Bullock has pledged that while he is chairman, the DGA will not spend any dark money at all. Thus Bullock is planning on taking the organization in a new direction. I would note that not a single Republican governor has suggested any similar path for the RGA. Big money is a part of the political system, and all politicians benefit from it at some point. The question is, which politicians are trying to change the system, and which are standing in the way?
Second, since when is the Montana Republican party suddenly so concerned about dark money? Is Shipp seriously, and with a straight face, complaining that Bullock is not working hard enough to reform campaign finance, when the GOP is an inveterate hoarder and gulper of every drop of corporate, unregulated dollar it can find? That party is nothing but a collection of corporate lobbyists and their money, who cycle in and out with such regularity that it’s often not even possible to distinguish between lobbyists, candidates, politicians and staff. Virtually all conservative dollars in Montana now funnel through secret PACs. Meanwhile, half a dozen state officials (Scott Sales, Mike Miller, Art Wittich, Rick Hill among them) were either found guilty of, or pled guilty to, or might soon be held guilty of, taking large chunks of unlimited, unregulated corporate funding in one form or another for their campaigns.
What’s hilarious is that Shipp is not really accusing Bullock of fighting or resisting the influence of money in politics. He is saying that Bullock and the democrats are “really as bad as us.” Not only is this not remotely true, it is a bizarre and stupid way to criticize anyone.
Finally, and perhaps best of all, it should be observed that Shipp seems to believe that tweeting incessantly this same tired message, every day, has some sort of effect on voters. In fact, this strategy is rather feckless, reaching a few hundred people who follow Montana politics on twitter but accomplishing little else. Likely, however, Shipp has convinced his boss Will Deschamps, who might not know how to use a computer given that he is 65 years old and a Republican, that spending the day trolling on social media amounts to a day’s work.
So as I said, he is quite harmless.