FACT CHECK: Supreme Court Smear Machine Uses Fear and Lies to Distract from Juras’ Inexperience

Jake Eaton, Facebook photo

The choice between Dirk Sandefur and Kristen Juras for the Montana Supreme Court race couldn’t be an easier one: Dirk Sandefur is well-qualified.  He’s a 3-term State District Judge in one of Montana’s busiest and most populous districts –and before that he was a prosecutor (and before that he was a police officer.)  He’s got decades of experience that Kristen Juras just does not have. He’s been endorsed by 50 Montana judges, she zero. 

Since Juras can’t run on experience, enter the same dark money group set up to flood the last three Supreme Court elections with misinformation and deceit. Let’s fact check ’em.

Cowgirl blog frequent flyer Jake Eaton is listed as treasurer for a new group he’s labeled “Set Em Free Sandefur” and has launched a Willy Horton-style attack ad of the lowest order.

If you’re new here, you need to know that Jake Eaton is the former Executive Director of the Montana Republican Party–the one who was forced to resign over the scandal to make it more difficult for 6,000 Montanans to vote.   Eaton has also worked for Rehberg and the national Republican party.

These days he’s got a corporate lobbyist firm. In fact, Eaton’s firm was the one Jason Priest and Ed Walker used to do the dirty work of the dark money group they set up to buy the last Supreme Court race for TEA Partier Laurie McKinnon.  Eaton tried the same stunt again in the Wheat, VanDyke race last election cycle, but failed.   This bunch has a plot to orchestrate a right-wing takeover of the supreme court.  We know this because the plot was uncovered in 2013 after Jason Priest, Art Wittich, Jeff Essmann and other TEA Partiers were caught emailing each other about it and their emails were leaked to the press during the 2013 legislative session.

This time the dark money machine’s bald face lies are intended to get you to think Dirk Sandefur, who has been a judge for many years,  is somehow soft on crime–a claim that makes my job even easier than fact checking Donald Trump. Here you can find broad selection of just a few of cases Judge Sandefur has been involved in where he imposed significant sentences.  See for yourself. He is anything but a lenient judge. Presumably this is to distract us from the fact that Juras has never been a judge and hasn’t set foot in a courtroom in decades.

The ad refers to three court cases that Eaton isn’t telling the truth about – not even close.

First. Eaton references Sandefur’s supposed “refusal” to give prison time two criminals he says are “child prornographers.” This statement includes two falsehoods.  First, Sandefur didn’t refuse anything -it was prosecutors who made plea agreements that recommended prison time.  Second, a pornographer is someone who makes porn, these criminals possessed downloaded porn.  This is abhorrent – it just doesn’t mean true that they made the porn. Source.

In both the second and third cases, Eaton tries the same trick – he entirely omits that it was state prosecutors who both reduced the original charges and recommended a seven year rape sentence in accordance with the prosecutors’ plea agreement. Sources here and here. 

It is interesting to note that Jake Eaton is married to Emily Jones who threatened to sue Rep. Jessica Karjala (D-Billings) recently on behalf of GOP candidate Robert Saunders, because she had told voters about his writings. (He’s the Billings affluenza candidate.)


7 Comments on "FACT CHECK: Supreme Court Smear Machine Uses Fear and Lies to Distract from Juras’ Inexperience"

  1. This is a typical right wing smear ad which has been up for a week. This group is spending big money on cable stations during prime news hours. We can only surmise Koch money. While it is full on half truths it is a very effective ad to scare the hell out of those young mothers with toddlers. It is running on Fox of course to remind these right wing leaning people to make sure to vote right on this down ballot position. Sandefur must answer this ad quickly and I believe his campaign has already wasted time in this respect. I also believe he must be in the ad and just not some bland response. One can point out all day Juras corp. business connections that doesn’t matter to people in regard to soft on sexual crime when it comes to children. I’m afraid this is a big game changer in this campaign if Sandefur doesn’t quickly get in front of this

  2. Just saw this on the wire:

    Commissioner: Anonymous political blogs can’t be regulated
    HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Montana’s elections regulator says blogs that provide political commentary penned by anonymous authors are not subject to campaign finance reporting and disclosure laws.
    Independent Public Service Commission candidate Caron Cooper had filed a complaint against the Montana Cowgirl blog with Commissioner of Political Practices Jonathan Motl.
    The left-leaning website wrote about Cooper in a post titled “Renowned TEA partier caught hosting fundraiser for PSC spoiler candidate.”
    Cooper is in a three-way race against the Republican incumbent, Roger Koopman, and Democrat Pat Noonan.
    Cooper accused the author of the blog of electioneering and producing election materials anonymously in violation of state law.
    Motl dismissed the complaint Thursday. He says blogs are not considered electioneering communications.
    He also wrote that First Amendment free-speech principles protect anonymous election-related communications, from leaflets to internet posts.

    • At last night’s Park County Democrats Annual Lasagna Dinner, Chair Dirk Adams endorsed Cooper, who was in attendance. I thought I was gonna die!

    • Well, now we know for sure Cooper is a republican – she uses threats and intimidation to try to silence those who disagree with her. Wittich, Gianforte, Robert Saunders, and how Caron Cooper. Sigh.

  3. The smear campaign partially uncovered, by connecting dots, triangles and squares! Now we get to make a deeper broader look. Thank you Cowgirl for integrating Montana news! For bringing the past forward!

  4. Old Line Democrat | October 1, 2016 7:44 PM at 7:44 PM |

    I pegged it in this post. I did not know until today that Ms. Juras is the faculty advisor to CSL a group for ultra right wing law students. Apparently, they have to “pledge” to oppose gay marriage and a raft of other positions that are unconstitutional. I should think they would be in a tough position to swear to uphold the U.S. Constitution as all attorneys must, already having made such a “pledge.”
    Old Line Democrat | September 16, 2016 8:52 AM at 8:52 AM | Reply

    This is just a more clear case of the same game plan that took Ed Sheehy an excellent lawyer with impeccable qualifications out of the race with Justice McKinnon. One need only read Justice McKinnon’s opinions and dissents to see how far out of the mainstream these candidates are. Juras would be an ally that could really swing some decisions.

    Watch out for some real big money ads, I would predict of the “Willy Horton” style to be used against Judge Sandefeur relating to some past criminal case where an unpredictable result took place as a result of a sentence or accepted plea bargain. The right wing Koch funded groups had to spend $400,000.00 plus to smear Sheehy with the death penalty issue, improperly framed and argued.

    Indeed this is more important than the Governors race. The Supreme Court is the only check on the craziness of the right wing in the Legislature when they pass laws that a Governor either can’t or won’t veto. This is very dangerous.

  5. Which one is a liberal? Which on is being endorsed by Lee Enterprises (Gazette etc.)who supports Hillary?

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