GUEST POST: TEA Party 10 Up to No Good

Jessica Karjala and Tom WoodsRepresentative Jessica Karjala, Billings HD 48 and Representative Tom Woods, Bozeman HD 62

By Representative Jessica Karjala, Billings HD 48, and  Representative Tom Woods, Bozeman HD 62

Ten TEA Party legislators recently proposed a special session. Supposedly, these folks want to use this very expensive process to “address campaign finance issues.” We believe that there are ulterior motives to their proposal which need to be recognized.

Some Tea Party Republicans say the expensive, taxpayer-funded measure of convening a special legislative session is necessary to fix what they call “defects” in Montana law governing campaign contributions. What “defects” do these people want to fix? One of the requestors, Representative Monforton, said he believed Montana should have no limits on how much cash people, PACs and party committees can give to candidates.


These TEA party folks want to remove limits on the amount of money politicians can get from wealthy donors and PAC’s?  We think that’s exactly the opposite of what our constituents want.

Montana voters have been very clear that they want to limit campaign contributions. We implemented contribution limits with 70% of voters supporting the idea. The bottom line is that more money in elections allows wealthy people to buy political influence. Most Montanans are against this.

The question needs to be put to the legislators requesting this special session; Why should we spend public dollars convening a special session when the voters of Montana have clearly spoken in support of campaign contribution limits? Whose interests are these Tea Party Republicans representing with their request?

Proponents of a special session have made their case that Montana should allow more money to be spent in state elections because North Dakota and Idaho allow higher campaign contributions than we do. To that, we would say that we have spoken with a lot of people in our districts. Nobody has ever asked us to raise contribution limits or make Montana more like North Dakota. Nope, not once, not ever, case closed.

The “Tea Party 10” have stated that another goal of a special session would be to close a “loophole” in campaign finance law. This is a clever turn of phrase that masks political gamesmanship.  Here’s what they are up to.

For some time now political parties have been allowed to hire and pay a staff to do political work. A reasonable person would call that what political parties do, right? These Tea Party legislators are calling call this a “loophole” and want to use their special session to pass a law to prevent it. Let’s examine the logic here. Why on one hand would a group want to increase campaign donations yet on the other hand wish to prevent the parties from hiring and paying staff to do political work?

The answer is simple: the Montana Republican party is broke while the Democrats are not. In essence, they are trying to use taxpayer dollars and the legal process hobble the Democratic party. This political play is particularly beneficial to the Republican candidate for governor Greg Gianforte, who is wealthy enough to pay his staff out of his own pocket and is not reliant on his party for financial help.

Rep. Monforton further stated a special session could save the state tax dollars on potential litigation over campaign finance laws. This doesn’t hold water. No matter what the result of a special session would look like, somebody could still sue the state over it. Honestly, if Representative Monforton is truly concerned with preventing litigation he could stop suing the state as he has done so many times over the last couple years.

We are confident that all Democrat legislators will vote against this nonsense. From our experience in the legislature we have confidence that there are enough Republicans in office the with the sense and integrity to recognize that it is not okay to spend taxpayer dollars to serve partisan interests.




6 Comments on "GUEST POST: TEA Party 10 Up to No Good"

  1. 70% of Montana voters may support limits on campaign finance, but then they turn around and vote in the candidate with the most money. Until voters wise up, there is no way to break the money chain. In fact that is the only way. No law will do the trick. Big money special interests will always find ways to circumvent a law limiting contributions.

    • Sanders winning Montana would be good sign that the residents of Montana are tired of big money controlling their lives. Campaign finance reform is a much more visible issue now that it has been.

      • Reportedly, groups and individuals have enjoined the out-of-State Bopp Law Firm, to bring Legal Action against the State of Montana!!
        To the extent that perhaps a million dollars of the goods and services of State Employeed Attorneys, have been accrued to date.

        Meanwhile the billing clock is still ticking while Bopp postures and positions to press charges against the State of Montana! Over .8 Million Dollars for accrued goods and services!!

        What’s more important than that?
        In the curent news cycle???

        Convening a Special Session of the Montana Legislature, so a few working groups can day by day hammer out details of LANGUAGE OF NEW CAMPAIGN FINANCE LAW.

        While four out of five Legislators work off their per diem by spending some dollars on recreation.

        ? While two out of five MT Lobbyists will be implementing their plan to influence CAMPAIGN FINANCE LAW AND PRACTISE.

  2. Myrna Vanderburg | June 8, 2016 10:23 AM at 10:23 AM |

    I have a cousin whom I care deeply about. She watched Fox news reports as she was caring for her dying husband, then came to support the Tea Party in Montana. I didn’t realize this when I made a general comment about politics the last time I saw her. She told me then that when the Tea Party takes over, the rest (of us) will be really sorry. What a sad way to view the governing of our state and our country.

  3. The first significant attempt at a universally applied democratic equalizer for the amount of money each presidential candidate receives for campaigning was made by one of the most seemingly unlikely members of the U.S. Congress to do so — conservative oil-and-gas-state U.S. Sen. Russell B. Long (D-LA), chairman of the Senate Finance committee in the 1970s, and son of the famous populist governor of Louisiana and later U.S. senator from the Bayou State, Huey P. Long. Every time we fill out our federal income tax we see what I’m talking about. It’s that box you can check to donate three dollars of your tax money to the public Presidential Election Campaign Fund. (Originally, it was a one-dollar check-off donation). Yep, Sen. Russell Long got the idea past in his finance committee and through a conference with the House Ways and Means Committee and into law to include the check-off and create the fund, all with the very socialist-communist-pinko-liberal idea of eventually funding presidential campaigns publicly, without any other money to be used, whatsoever. The whole plan began to fail slowly once implemented, though the fund is still alive. We can still check the box, and still send the money to the fund, which still goes to the candidates. Some 90-odd percent of taxpayers don’t check the box nowadays, according to the IRS. Ironically, we, the general public that hates big money involvement in politics, didn’t want a limited publicly supported campaign fund; and, of course, neither do the politicians. Sen. Long died in 2003, at age 84, knowing his idea of one fund divided equally between or among presidential candidates was forever lost. Frightening, but true: The one and only universally applied democratic equalizer is death itself.

  4. I was happy to see several Teapublicans lose their primaries yesterday. I look forward to seeing how many will stand by their endorsement of Trump now or try distancing themselves from him. How a real conservative could accept Trump is beyond me and I only hope as we learn more about his deals with the Mafia they finally wise up. At any rate for the most part Montanans proved themselves to be the disillusioned Democrats they actually are and when we elect Bullock in November it will prove it.

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