Knudsen now starring in pro-Gorsuch Dark Money Ads, Aimed at Tester


Montana Speaker of the House Austin Knudsen is now moonlighting as a spokesperson for a national dark money group spending $200,000 trying to get Neil Gorsuch confirmed as Supreme Court Justice.

Strangely, the group paying for these ads is a rampant violator of Federal election law, StopHillary PAC, and the group describes itself as having formed to defeat democratically elected officials who are “cancers”.   The group recently had donations returned to them from Republicans after the veracity and tone of their ads was questioned.

These ads were about Benghazi and asked:

  • “Dear Hillary Clinton, I’d like to ask you why you ignored calls for help in Benghazi and then four Americans were murdered. . . . But Mrs. Clinton, I can’t.” 

Perhaps StopHillary Pac should be asking the same questions of President Trump after his disastrous Yemen raid that left an American soldier dead and obtained no actionable intelligence?

The Group paying for these ads is still registered with the Federal Election Commission as StopHillary Pac, but they are presenting themselves with a different name in the ad. The ‘Committee to Defend the President.’

These type of ads are a staple of modern politics.  They are designed to serve two purposes.  First, to pressure Tester into voting to confirm Gorsuch.   I have trouble believing that Austin Knudsen is going to persuade anyone on that front.  Nobody’s ever heard of him beyond the voters in his district and it’s doubtful that someone posing standing next to a fence post, looking like a politician trying to look like a rancher (he’s actually a lawyer), is going to have much sway with voters.

The second purpose of these ads is to try to soften up Tester for 2018, a political effort disguised as an issue campaign.   That might be slightly more effective, and of course the problem is that there’s no opponent for Tester to respond against.  For that, you’ll have to wait another few months to see who declares as a Senate candidate for 2018.

Maybe Knudsen is using this dark money to float the idea of a run?

Ironically, Republicans have again chosen a standard bearer who blocks access to public lands.   Knudsen is in court lately, defending his gating off of public access to a city park in Culbertson that belongs to the American legion and that has led to the Knudsen family being sued by the City of Culbertson.



8 Comments on "Knudsen now starring in pro-Gorsuch Dark Money Ads, Aimed at Tester"

  1. This ad makes it look like knutsen is standing on his family ranch in northeastern Montana. Well I grew up in that area. First it is not his families ranch as they raise black Angus cattle and the scene is somewhere around Helena no doubt. We don’t have any mountains in that area. This family has many many Bakken oil wells and their corrals are the best that money can buy. This group just lies about everything. Knutsen is preaching to the choir. Now I not only have to watch this stupid ad but billionaire Greg and I’m the chosen one at news time

  2. I feel mixed emotions about this ad…obviously just the usual MT. republican dark money sleaze…But I wouldn’t have expected much more from Knudsen.

    There is also a lesson here. The right fights dirty and hard, and while we don’t have to stoop to their levels we’re in for a fight and we must bring the fight forward and to republicans for a change. The left can get SO caught up on infighting and nuance…while the right doesn’t give an S at the end of the day. We’re always on the defensive and let the right carry their narrative because they’ll shout it and we’ll politely say it. They want to win because winning allows you to make the agenda and make your change happen (to our regret and dismay). Frankly that’s why they don’t care how they win.

    We don’t need dark money, and we don’t need to adopt every pale strategy, but we need to quit infighting and start winning elections by being the group that’s in power to work for REAL CHANGE for REAL PEOPLE here and across the nation. We need to stand up as we have for the last months and refuse to not have our voice heard.

    • Old Line Democrat | March 6, 2017 3:17 PM at 3:17 PM |

      You are correct about the Repub dark money playbook.
      The way to defeat it is by getting a set of talking points you can use to support both Tester and Quist as needed. Share them with folks you know and say it loud enough for others nearby can hear you. It is basic social psychology that people put more credence in what they overhear than what is directly stated to them. Keep the focus on the positives that Tester has accomplished with the VA and the fact that he actually does legislation not just signing off on the dark money interests plans.
      Similarly with Quist focus on his intelligence communication abilities homegrown attitudes etc. There is no need to burden him with convoluted party planks that are red flags to the conservatives. Focus on who you want to represent our state and our values. This is a sprint to election not a referendum on progressive wish lists. Won first then work on the governing.
      This will work if you work at it.

  3. Old Line Democrat | March 6, 2017 4:16 PM at 4:16 PM |

    Please tell us how you know this. And more importantly why would Jon Tester believe anything that Trump might say at any point in time. The way the “Orange Monster” is performing everyone who faces election will be running away from him. Jon just needs to stand on his down home principles and he will be fine. I know it makes no difference to the tea partiers and their ilk but Montana needs his seniority in the Senate and that is a powerful reason for lots of people to support him.

    • Speaking of support and coversation.
      Could be that Rachel Maddow will tonite air info about mail in Ballots in Montana.
      And MONTANA OPPOSITION TO MT MAIL IN BALLOTS for 5/25 Special Election.

      ?Maddow #3 spotlight on current race in Montana?

      ??What does Fox have to air and say?

    • her A block segment was even better!


    ‘KING’ Knudsen BREAKING the legislature’s own rules on where bills go and his unethical behavior intolerable as he’s trying to KILL SB305 to have mail-in ballot only for Zinke’s replacement. Essman FEARS democracy and argues mail-in ballots helps dems only, but that fails logic as mail-in ballots also help seniors who don’t get out and often vote more conservatively, so it’s a ‘wash’ ESSMAN! KNUDSEN is playing ‘fast and loose’ here, trying to be the ‘King Maker’ here and crapping on fellow GOP members. It would be hilarious if it wasn’t so VILE.

  5. Call 444-4800 to express your opinion regarding SB 305. I hope you will support a mail in ballot so that all Montana voices will be heard despite the whiners complaining that if all Montanans choose to exercise their constitutional right to vote they may lose to the democratic party. Yep gotta love those patriotic Republicans -fighting for our constitutional rights, the most sacred being the right to vote only if you vote Republican. Oh wait, make that the second most sacred right – can’t forget the holy grail – the 2nd amendment.

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