Leaked Transcript: TEA Party Legislators Say GOP Brand is “A Dead Rat” at the Bottom of a Can of Diet Pepsi

A Gallatin County TEA Party ProtestA Gallatin County TEA Party Protest

During a recent Gallatin County GOP event, TEA Party Republican Matthew Monforton, Art Wittich, and Tom Burnett told a small group of GOP insiders what they really think about the GOP brand, their fellow Republicans, the 2015 legislative session and the people of Montana.

A transcription of audio obtained by Cowgirl tipsters included comments by TEA Party hothead Matthew Monforton, comparing the MTGOP brand to a dead rat at the bottom of a can of diet pepsi.  And that’s just the beginning:

Let’s take an example from the corporate world.  Let’s take the example of Diet Pepsi…There’s a lot of time and a lot of money and a lot of investment by Pepsi Corporation to create their brand so that we have a sense of what we’re getting ahead of time when we buy a Pepsi.  Now imagine if, you’re drinking a Diet Pepsi and you get to the bottom of the can, and you find out that there’s a dead rat at the bottom of the can.  It’s probably going to be a long time, if ever, when you buy your next Diet Pepsi….The voters who sent us to the legislature, who sent 59 out of a 100 house members to the legislature who were republicans, uhm, were expecting to get the brand that we advertised and instead what they got was a dead rat.


Wittich denigrated the Montanans who came to the legislature to testify by comparing them to the lions in the biblical parable of Daniel in the lion’s den.

First hearing we had was in the old Supreme Court chamber, and if you’ve ever been in there, there’s a gallery, upstairs, and, uh, there’s probably about 500 people and they wanted to expand Medicaid, and many of us did not.  And I felt a little like Daniel in the lions den.

Wittich also apparently felt personally affronted that the working poor will soon have health care, “In 2015, I failed.  Medicaid was expanded, and I take it personally.”

Wittich went on to defend Americans for Prosperity:

I see a couple people here from Americans for Prosperity.  You are the, uh, you are the nemesis of the liberal world, right?  And whenever they wanted to attack a legislator or his policy views, they would simply say “and he’s supported by AFP.”  We allowed that to happen in our country.

And to blast a local reporter,

“Frankly, the Bozeman chronicle does it, Troy Carter does it, and conservatism now, is extreme. And it has to not only be beaten, but silenced and gagged.”

(Whether Wittich is saying it is conservatism or the Bozeman Chronicle that needs to be silenced and gagged isn’t clear.)

Wittich also attacked Speaker of the House Austin Knudsen and the other Republican leadership of the House and the Senate:

What happened is, we had leadership that blinked, plain and simple. We had leadership–there has not been a good strong speaker of the House in the people who are there’s memory. They’ve never seen a good strong speaker of the house…It was worse than the Senate. It was, it was just, the worst part about it is we had a number of freshman house members and I did my best to mentor, but so many of them saw that as normal process and we’re gonna have to do a severe re-education effort over the interim.


Monforton called for the state Republican Party to censure legislators who disagreed with him:

“We need to have the party discipline it’s members and let it’s voters know who these RINOs are so that when they run for election and talk about what great conservatives they are that the party apparatus can stand up and say NO you are not…The Cascade county republicans a couple of months ago issued, censured Steve Fitzpatrick for what he did with 454 among other things. The Flathead Republicans did that with Bruce Tutvedt one of the worst Republicans who has ever served in the legislature. The state party needs to do that as well. Gallatin county republicans need to do that.”


In response to a question about his closed primaries lawsuit, Monforton took the opportunity to attack Republican Attorney General Tim Fox, who is required by law to defend our open primaries against Monforton’s lawsuit.

Well Tim Fox understood that and what he did was he secretly authored what become HB 454 and he spoon fed that, we think, to Llew Jones, Senator Llew Jones who’s one of the RINOS in the Senate, who then gave it to Steve Fitzpatrick in the House..Now I don’t have any problem with Tim Fox litigating against us. It’s his job to defend a statute when anyone challenges a statute in federal court. But what was done was outrageous because it was basically an abuse of power by Tim Fox. He secretly had HB 454 introduced through intermediaries and instead of supporting a bill and coming forward saying this is our bill we are sponsoring it, as the attorney general does normally with bills that he supports, he called up legislators the night before the vote secretly to say you gotta support this. And it was an abuse of power.


Monforton also attacked the leadership of the Montana Republican Party:

If we have a state party after June that has the kind of leadership that it has now, it will be extremely detrimental to the party because the chairman will in essence be a dictator, could potentially be a dictator, who can in essence stack every county committee with the kind of precinct committee men and women that he wants and I think most of us in the room know exactly who we are talking about. I’ll say his name. If Chairman Deschamps, if he has this kind of power, and if he is re-elected in June, it will be a catastrophe for the party and a catastrophe for true Republicans and true conservatives.


Then a TEA Partier from Cascade County named Rick Linerfelder said the Cascade county GOP will be placing an  “emblem” of some kind on “anybody running in the primary” who passes a new GOP purity test:

To start with, we owe a deep debt of gratitude for all your guys and I’m sorry for what we’ve sent you except for Randy Pinocci and the other thing going on we’ve already agreed we are going to create an emblem and it’s going to go on the approval, on the cascade county central committee on anybody running in the primary. We’re gonna make them fill out a survey and we hope to clean house of about 5 so I want you to hear that from here…I’ve been the one that’s personally pushed the chairman out in October, no September and I’m also the one that pushed the censure of Steve Fitzpatrick….I put the idea out there and I ain’t looking for kudos or anything else. I just want to clean up some problems”

As for Burnett, he simply dismissed Montanans as sugar-swilling freeloaders who pay no taxes. You can read the whole transcript here. There are many more interesting remarks included than just what I’ve posted here.


13 Comments on "Leaked Transcript: TEA Party Legislators Say GOP Brand is “A Dead Rat” at the Bottom of a Can of Diet Pepsi"

  1. Montana Central Right (MCR) coalition is kinda similar to Warren Buffet position.
    They both crave more, more, more. They both have a vested interest in LEE newspapers in Montana. They both capitalize on outside money.

    One big difference. MCR works to grant more representation to out of State power lobbies.

    No wonder they had to shrug off tea party label!

    Remember when recently the tea party stood against taxation without representation? Stood up for liberty. Stood against “free trade” and the unchartered central bank monopoly?
    And warned us that ‘absolute power absolutely corrupts!’

  2. Dear Cowgirl,
    Interesting how the use of corporate metaphors is all over these statements. No doubt this is the ALEC-Qaeda, and ATP (American Taliban Partnership) influence. The fact that these folks are trying to run a political party like a well oiled company exposes the truth of both major parties; large organizations, feigning wide grass roots support, while being run by a few, hungry for power individuals, who want to mold the party to their ideals and thinking. Yes, both major political parties do this. Hey that’s politics.

    John Marshall

  3. The metaphor, ‘dead rat at the bottom of a Diet Pepsi,’ shows unexpected and remarkable insight.

    • Matthew Monforton | June 18, 2015 9:48 AM at 9:48 AM |

      Thanks. But in all fairness, I borrowed that metaphor from Grover Norquist at Americans for Tax Reform, as duly noted in the transcript of the remarks.

  4. Anyone else acknowledge these republicans, are saying diddly about constituents now? Its all about Party and religion NOw…. they dont seem to understand issues that plague this state anymore.

    And Having ATP there, just goes to show how bought off they really are!

  5. I hope everyone checks their guns at the door before entering the Montana Republican Party convention. It could be a bloodbath, literally.

  6. It’s amusing to hear California attorney Matt Monforton criticize anyone. He introduced a bunch of bills during session and not a single one passed the legislature. Not one. He is an ineffective carpetbagging peacock.

  7. You should note from the transcript that the moderator Anita Milanovich, who is attorney who works for American Tradition Partnership (as did Art Wittich), is fundraising for another sham “client” (a so-called corporation named Montanans for Community Development) that started a lawsuit last fall seeking to eviscerate Montana’s campaign disclosure and finance laws.

  8. Old Line Democrat | June 19, 2015 8:17 AM at 8:17 AM |

    Indeed, as Freon notes, the statements of Ms. Milanovich are quite appalling especially where she informs the crowd that their contributions are tax deductible and anonymous. Trying doing that with any legitimate political candidate or cause. Anonymous and tax deductible wow, no opportunities for subversion of the system there!!

  9. What a good tactic for the Republican Party — censor all members who don’t agree with Rep. Whittich. Making each one, so chastised, an “Instant Hero” in the eyes of the rest of Montana voters. I think the applicable motto here is “Shooting yourself in the foot.”

  10. It’s also like shooting at centrist Republicans,
    who will not pledge allegiance to out of State Oaths,
    and do not advance Legislation promoted by out of state billionairs!

  11. I just finished reading the entire transcript. The insight it offers into the strategy of the far right is fascinating: closed primaries, purity tests, leadership issues … I’d love to be a fly on the wall at the GOP convention in Helena next weekend.

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