Category: 2014 Elections

Posted: April 23, 2014 at 8:18 pm

Another Email Takes Aim at TEA Party Lawmakers

A second email is making the rounds in GOP circles this week from an anonymous gmail account called “Concerned Montanans.”  Here’s the first email.

While there’s no word yet on who’s behind these, it is interesting to note that the emails appeared to be focused on the house rather than the senate. Except for Matt Rosendale,  the Senate’s likely new TEA Party leadership candidates, Fred Thomas and Jennifer Fielder, appear to be escaping the flack so far.  Jason Priest isn’t running.

“Facts are Stubborn Things!” – John Adams 

Assault on a child and wife

Prosecutors filed charges Wednesday, February 12th accusing state Sen. Jason Priest of throwing his 4-year-old daughter, shoving his estranged wife and breaking her boyfriend’s rib and then struggling with an officer who intervened in the incident…

Read more: http://billingsgazette.com/news/state-and-regional/montana/state-senator-charged-with-felony-assault-in-domestic-incident/article_23826855-7dd4-5cd2-bdeb-0340b712d7ae.html#ixzz2zJQ2ACHS

Sen. Jason Priest (R-TEA Red Lodge) Yellowstone County Detention Facility mug shot.
Sen. Jason Priest (R-TEA Red Lodge) Yellowstone County Detention Facility mug shot.

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Fraud

The state political practices commissioner released findings Tuesday, April 1st, 2014  showing he concluded that Senate Majority Leader Art Wittich violated the law by coordinating with Western Tradition Partnership and other entities to accept illegal corporate donations in his 2010 primary election campaign.

Later Tuesday Commissioner Jonathan Motl filed a civil complaint against Wittich, a Republican legislator from Bozeman, in District Court in Helena.

Read more: http://billingsgazette.com/news/state-and-regional/montana/commissioner-montana-senate-leader-broke-campaign-laws/article_03bef6a7-dc2f-513b-b7ba-4fb44a3d1de4.html#ixzz2zJS5V64u

AW

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Cheat

Ken Miller violates Montana Code 45-8-216 with his Robo Calls in the 2012 primary.

The commissioner of political practices is rejected Republican gubernatorial candidate Ken Miller’s request to dismiss a campaign complaint, and warning his campaign to stop making automated telephone calls that are technically illegal.

Read more: http://billingsgazette.com/news/state-and-regional/montana/commissioner-won-t-dismiss-miller-campaign-complaint/article_905d2f72-0108-5802-9c75-05ce30d14983.html#ixzz2zJXWRNtm
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Pawn

Miller and Rosendale  coordinate on a regular basis.

Wittich has held fundraisers for Rosendale in Gallatin County and elsewhere.

Be on the look-out for Dark Money coming Rosendale’s way since he can’t raise any of his own. Wittich and Priest will probably funnel it through the Montana Growth Network!

 

MR

Posted: April 23, 2014 at 7:38 am

GUEST POST: Sun shines on Montana grassroots fundraising

Mary Ann Dunwell is the progressive Democratic candidate for Montana House District 84. She welcomes your questions and comments at (406) 461-5358,  dunwellforhd84@gmail.com or www.dunwellforhd84.com

Mary Ann Dunwell
Mary Ann Dunwell

Dark money and U.S. Supreme Court rulings that lift political contribution limits and call corporations people are enough to make those who believe in democracy throw up our hands in despair. Like many of you, I’m alarmed by the implications that the wealthy one percent may soon own our elected, representative form of government.

But, I’m also inspired that we won’t let it happen. The Dunwell for Montana House District 84 campaign has raised money from about 170 contributors. Most are hard-working Montanans or those on fixed incomes who stretch to give $10, $25 or $50. Some have given $100 or even maxed out at $170. I know they’re giving up something in exchange for something much greater in which they believe.

These Montanans have their say and engage in the democratic process. These Montanans speak for people who haven’t had a voice in the legislature. These Montanans step up with me to make sure all of our neighbors have equal opportunity to thrive, prosper and succeed.

I’ve met many people on the campaign trail who don’t have a voice or don’t enjoy equal opportunity. There’s the single mom fired from her job because she couldn’t find a sitter and can’t pay the rent,  the parents who work yet struggle to pay for preschool and night school, the college graduate strapped with huge student loans and no job, the young adults who want to go to college and medical school but have no way to pay, the  mother whose adult daughter took her life, the young woman whose teenage brother took his, and the parent who needs help caring for her child with mental illness. There’s the former Asarco employee kicked out of work and left with contaminated property and a polluted well, the teacher who won’t take her elementary students to the Capitol anymore during Legislative Session because of the disrespect, the WWII Veteran who’s endured a broken promise all these years, and the 30-something who couldn’t go to the doctor and now can.

Our campaign is grassroots. Those grassroots will grow under Montana’s Big Sky, nurtured with sunlight, watered with full disclosure and fertilized by the people’s voices participating in a transparent, democratic process. No way can our grassroots campaign fundraising compete with dark money mega-dollars and corporate influence. But all together, Montana voices are speaking up, being heard and demonstrating that our votes are not for sale. Priceless!

 

Posted: April 22, 2014 at 7:00 pm

TEA Party Land Takeover Will Cost You Big $$$

TEA Party congressional candidate Matt Rosendale and a militia-affiliated TEA Partier state senator have glommed onto a likely unconstitutional land grab idea pushed by out-of-staters that is a financial black hole for Montanans and a nightmare for Montana’s economy and environment.

Here’s why the plot copied from Utah by Jennifer Fielder, the TEA Party state senator who is vice-Chair of the Montana GOP, and Rep. Matt Rosendale (R-Yosemite Sam) is so poorly conceived and is more about pushing state sovereignty anti-government uprising ideology.   It’s certainly not about jobs or fiscal responsibility.

Our federal public lands are what make Montana so great. The TEA Party land grab targets the Rocky Mountain Front, the Bob Marshall Wilderness, the Beartooths, the Bitterroot-Selway, the national forests and scenic areas surrounding our national parks including Going to the Sun Road, and all of our national wildlife refuges and wilderness areas. These are the places where we go to ride horses, hike, hunt, fish, ski, bike or just relax outside with our pets, friends and families.  These public lands don’t belong only to the 2015 Montana legislature and the special interests who would sell them off– they belong to all Americans for generations to come. Rosendale and Fielder say they will exempt National parks, reservations , and national monuments, but not the lands mentioned above.

Perhaps most obviously, the TEA Party land grab would limit public access to public lands. If this TEA Party and grab succeeds many of these lands could be sold or developed, strip mined, strip malls. Whatever. Montanans can expect to encounter a whole lot of “No Trespassing” signs.

What’s more, the Fielder/Rosendale attack on our public lands could cost also Montana taxpayers untold millions of dollars. Consider what’s happening in Utah, the state which recently passed the dubious law which the MT TEA-bunch is modeling their land grab scheme after.  The Utah legislature’s own lawyers have said that the land grab bill will only trigger a costly and ultimately futile legal battle because it has a “high probability of being declared unconstitutional.” The litigation costs to taxpayers will likely run into the millions of dollars.

And that’s just the litigation to defend this unconstitutional nonsense. That’s not even including the cost to manage the federal lands, which Montana taxpayers would now have to assume.

In Utah, the federal government spends between $200 and $300 million per year managing public lands (including fire fighting)–Utah has about 35 million acres of federal land.

In Idaho, the federal government spends more than $300 million per year in managing public lands–Idaho has about 33 million acres of federal land.  These numbers also include the costs of fighting wildland fires.

If you’re wondering what the federal management costs in Montana are, consider that we have about 27 million acres of federal lands.

Compare that with the fact that the state of Montana can barely manage to fully fund its own state parks budget because legislators refuse to appropriate the needed funds.  The state of Montana spends a measly $600,000 in state funds to manage our state parks.  That means that’s the only state money the legislature would allocate to manage our state parks public lands–that doesn’t come from hunting and fishing licenses or federal funds anyway.  If Montana did gain control over federal public lands, Montana taxpayers would be stuck with the cost of managing federal lands too–to the tune of a couple hundred million.

Some right-wingers may say “well let’s just clearcut log federal land to pay these costs.”  In fact, the  Idaho Department of Lands came up with an estimate that the state could raise $50 million to $75 million annually in timber receipts from federal land.

But one cost not figured into Idaho’s estimate would actually negate any anticipated revenue gains.  That’s what are called “Payment in Lieu of Taxes” or PILT funds.  These payments make up for former timber revenues and compensating for the fact that counties can’t tax federal land–they amount to $58 million in Idaho.  If the lands weren’t federal, local governments would lose those funds. The situation is the same in Montana–and other states.  (Also, earth to the pro-logging crowd It’s not environmental protections that dictate how much logging is done –its demand for timber in the free market economy.)

That’s why TEA Party Republican Jan Brewer, who is Arizona’s Governor vetoed a land grab bill in her state because it would have overstressed the state’s budget and land management abilities. As the Salt Lake Tribune commented,

“[t]hat’s a much more logical view than the pipe dream held by Utah lawmakers, that the seizure of public lands would be a fiscal bonanza for the state.”

The Rosendale/Feilder TEA Party assault on our public lands is also bad for business.  Nearly eleven million visitors come to Montana each year, spending $3.7 billion dollars and supporting 13,000 jobs–largely to enjoy our public lands.  Just as important, our public lands are the single greatest reason why many people and businesses chose to locate and invest in Montana.  An increasing number of studies show that rural counties in the West with protected public landscapes see better economic and job growth than counties lacking protected landscapes. To the contrary, Feilder’s and Rosendale’s TEA Party agenda is to sell off and exploit – not protect and promote – our great places to fish, hunt, and recreate.

The Rosendale/Fielder plan will create enormous regulatory quagmire for grazing, drilling, and mining interests who now hold or are seeking permits and leases on our federally-managed public lands. This uncertainty will deter, not encourage, appropriate mineral, agriculture and energy development.  No business wants to come here and embroil itself in endless morass of risks and unknowns. This seems like an obvious point, but the TEA Partiers don’t seem to get it.

Finally, Fielder and Rosendale claim this is about “returning” federal lands to the state – the state never owned these lands in the first place, the federal government took them from Native Americans.  So if they are to be “returned” to anyone, it should be the tribes.

After all, just because an idea is ludicrous never stopped imbeciles in the TEA Party from forcing Republicans to swear oaths to support it.   Check out this TEA Party video of a GOP primary candidate forum co-hosted by the Flathead County Republican Women and the NW MT TEA Party Patriots.

The TEA Partiers asked only three questions.

Would the candidates support denying tribal sovereignty and water rights to the First Montanans?  (By blocking this, Republicans are costing the state of Montana yet more untold millions in legal fees through years of litigation.)

Would they reject federal funds to pay for 100% of the health are costs for 70,000 working poor and Veterans in Montana?  Montana loses $1.8 million every day that these funds are refused.

And would they support this unconstitutional TEA Party land grab to tank Montana’s economy, which would also cost the state millions.

The candidates answered as the forum organizers demanded – even though the TEA partiers’ ideological positions are the opposite of fiscally responsible.

 

Posted: April 17, 2014 at 7:25 pm

Supreme Court Unanimously Tosses TEA Party Lawsuit

MonfortonTinFoilThe Montana Supreme Court today rejected an attempt by TEA Party AG Tim Fox and a TEA Party legislative candidate to block a citizen’s initiative to accept federal funding for health care for the working poor and veterans today.

In a unanimous ruling, the justices ruled that Fox’s and the TEA Partier’s attempt to invalidate Fox’s own fiscal statement and have it rewritten–an attempt to force the pro-Medicaid expansion signature gatherers to throw out thousands of signatures already gathered and start over at a later date, thereby severely restricting the amount of time they have to gather signatures.

It did not go unnoticed by the Supreme Court justices that these same obstructionists failed to voice their supposed concerns during the public comment period, thereby making their attempt to invalidate current signatures pretty obvious.

Montana Attorney General Tim FoxRemember also that it was Tim Fox himself who was charged with writing the fiscal statement.  He didn’t voice any concerns about his own work at the time he wrote it, yet instead decided to sign on to a lawsuit filed against himself, which speaks to his lack of competence if nothing else.

TEA Party Republican legislator Fred Thomas responded by saying any justice that disagreed with him “shouldn’t be on the Supreme Court.”   I guess he means all of them, including the arch conservatives on the court, since the ruling was unanimous.

Posted: April 17, 2014 at 6:58 am

Montana Lawmaker Says He Will Join Armed Rebellion in Nevada

More than five thousand gun-wielding, yellow flag waiving TEA Partiers and Montana militia members are descending on a small town called Bunkerville to fight the federal government.

Kerry White headshot
TEA Party Republican Rep. Kerry White of Bozeman, MT

No, its not a scene from the next Dinesh D’Souza movie flop, it’s actually happening in the town of Bunkerville, Nevada– an hour North of Las Vegas.   Now, TEA Party Republican Rep. Kerry White (R-Bozeman) posted on his Facebook page that he plans to join them.

White, who is the brother of Gallatin County Commissioner Steve White, has considered running for Governor on the GOP ticket in the past.  It’s not known whether he’s still considering that office. Here’s his Facebook post:

KerryBundy

At issue is one man’s refusal to follow the law like his neighbors have done and stop illegally grazing on federal land.  The rancher, a man named Cliven Bundy, has racked up $1.2 million in fines and unpaid grazing fees since 1993–but says he is special and needn’t follow the law like everyone else because his ancestors homesteaded in the area.

So the BLM, as is standard practice, began confiscating Bundy’s cattle to sell to pay some of the unpaid fees. This is no different than what happens to anyone who doesn’t pay their mortgage or their taxes for many years.  The government or bank has the right to foreclose because the person didn’t uphold her or his end of the deal.

As BBC News reported, many of these protesters are armed and have threatened to use deadly force to stop the government from doing its job.  A Montana militia member told reporters:

“That is what we do. We provide armed response,” Jim Lardy with Operation Mutual Aid said.

Lardy came from Montana to join the protesters, and he says he is not afraid to shoot, if necessary.

“They have guns. We need guns to protect ourselves from the tyrannical government,” Lardy said.

He says other militia members are joining him.

“There is many more coming,” Lardy said

Here’s another Montana militia member:

“We’re all in this together,” said Rick Lovelien, 50, a militia member from Libby, Mont., with the Montana State Defense Force.

One protestor even admitted they had plans to put women and children at the front of the crowd so they would be among the first casualties if violence broke out.  So these are the kinds of people that are involved.

The rancher is even urging sheriffs across the US to disarm federal law enforcement officials, Reuters reported.

An official with a group that tracks extremist and hate groups said the call by Cliven Bundy to disarm federal law enforcement with agencies like the BLM is equivalent to calling for an armed rebellion against the U.S. government.

The federal government, siting safety concerns for BLM staff and members of the public, have cancelled the cattle collection for the time being.  The situation remains worrisome for many reasons.  Dallas Hyland writes in Utah’s St George News that this could be the start of a growing trend:

The stand-down was necessary to prevent bloodshed, but it must be recognized that if Bundy and a multitude of his supporters, militia friends, and even family members who broke the law, are allowed to go unpunished, anarchy will follow. Other groups, emboldened by the appearance of forcing a stand-down, will only continue to gain momentum. And furthermore, law enforcement as a whole will be rendered impotent as average people with disputes with current laws begin to wonder if they too can call a militia in to force the police to leave them alone.

And even though the federal government is standing down for now, an update to the TEA Partier’s Facebook page includes an update that White has plans to postpone his trip to when the federal government returns, presumably so that he can get in on the action.

Kerry White Facebook page

 

Kerry White’s opponents are democrats Christopher Burke, a West Yellowstone businessman, and CJ Monteith.  The district is not dominated by Republican voters, like some in outer Gallatin County are, but contains about half dems and half repubs–so this kind of behavior will hurt White rather than help him.

Posted: April 16, 2014 at 7:11 am

GUEST POST: Why I’m Running

[This is a guest post from the second of a series of pieces submitted by the U.S. Senate candidates.  Still to come, a guest post by John Walsh.  The Cowgirl Blog welcomes editorial submissions from candidates in other races and from guest writers, and any other content readers might enjoy. In addition, I'm considering a new policy. Subject to my discretion I will post Republican/conservative opinion pieces as well.]

I am running in the Democrat primary for the Montana U.S. Senate seat because facing and overcoming the current challenges to our nation’s progress on improving the lives of our citizens calls for boldness, courage, and new approaches. I have a rare background that I think makes me the right person at the right time to go to work for Montana and our nation. I know ranching and agriculture, and I know finance. As a Harvard-trained attorney, I know the law. I understand education and technology. My values are Democratic ones, and frankly, I think, American ones, and they include social and economic justice and the desire for a functional, uncorrupted political and governmental system.

Wrongs done to our citizens and wrong-headed policies drove me into the political arena. Continue reading

Posted: April 15, 2014 at 6:53 am

REPORT: Montana Elections Among Best Run in Nation

A recent report released by The Pew Charitable Trusts ranks Montana elections as the 11th best in the nation under Secretary of State Linda McCulloch. The report also calls for implementation of McCulloch’s plan for online voter registration, which would make access to voting a lot easier.

Montana has ranked in the top of the nation for the past two federal election cycles. Under McCulloch’s leadership, the state has been recognized for expanding its use of electronic voter information tools, adding post-election audits, and increasing the accessibility and accuracy of military and overseas citizen ballots.

Online voter registration in the era of online banking, shopping, and everything else is a no-brainer. Twenty states already have it. But luddites (and those who don’t want more people to vote) in the Montana legislature have repeatedly blocked McCulloch’s proposal to implement online voter registration and instead continue to introduce bills to make it more difficult to vote in hopes of suppressing votes from young people, women, working families and people of color–people less likely to support Republicans.

McCulloch shows up personally to oppose every single bill to restrict voting rights, for which she is to be commended. Republicans legislators forced a referendum on the November ballot to repeal same day voter registration in Montana and restrict the amount of time available to Montanans to register and vote.

Posted: April 14, 2014 at 7:42 am

TEA Party Leader Seeks School Board Seat

Embattled Great Falls TEA Party leader Cyndi Baker is running for Great Falls School Board, the Great Falls Tribune reports.

The candidacy is odd because Baker has been vocally opposed to school funding. When Baker ran unsuccessfully for city commissioner a few years back, she made her opposition to public schools the centerpiece of her campaign.

Cyndi Baker (left) and former (but ousted) Rep. Cleve Loney R-TEA-Great Falls (right, now a candidate again)) at a TEA Party Rally in Great FallsAs a Great Falls City Commission candidate Baker, who campaigned against school district spending, then turned around and sought a district paycheck. Continue reading

Posted: April 8, 2014 at 11:17 pm

We’ve Met the Enemy and It is Science and Knowledge

Creationists have been much in the news in Montana of late. Here’s the latest on Greg Gianforte, the billionaire tech mogul who apparently believes the earth is 4,300 years old.  It’s also time for an update on Lawrence VanDyke, the creationist supreme court candidate who believes in “pray away the gay” conversion therapy.

Continue reading

Posted: April 8, 2014 at 7:25 am

TEA Partiers Running as Dems Become Active in Right-Wing Causes

A dirty plot hatched by the local conservatives to deceive voters and with TEA Party Republicans pretending to be Democrats has thickened.  No less than eight TEA Party conservatives have filed for office as democrats has just come to light. Now, the possible motives and potential and level of coordination of these party-switching candidates is starting to emerge: one has already appeared as a pawn in a lawsuit filed by a right-wing extremist and TEA Party candidate who is seeking to block access to federal funds to pay for health care for the working poor and Veterans in Montana.

Take fake democrat Kathy Hollenback, who appears in TEA Party republican Matthew Monforton’s lawsuit against Republican Tim Fox. Monforton has filed a flurry of lawsuits laden with right-wing ideology and buzzwords since becoming a candidate for office. He’s suing the Attorney General because Fox certified the Medicaid expansion ballot initiative as legally sufficient and wrote a fiscal statement for the initiative which explains both the cost and the savings of the measure to accept federal funds and use available federal monies coming to Montana for health care for the working poor: ranch hands, motel clerks, construction workers, and waitresses.

Monforton recruited Hollenback  to help him deceive the public into thinking he has bipartisan support his nonsense.

Screen shot 2014-04-08 at 10.29.50 PM

Hollenback’s husband is David Ponte who formerly ran for legislature on the GOP ticket in 2010.  Ponte is a tea party winger who is precinct chair of the Gallatin Republican Party.  Ponte has filed numerous complaints against democrats and mainstream Republicans whom the TEA Partiers dislike.

The other parties Monforton has recruited for his lawsuit he claims are part of an MSU group that doesn’t appear anywhere other than the pages of his twisted legal arguments.

Monforton has given his group the ridiculous sounding name “If You Like Your MSU Funding, You Can Keep It.”  The supposed “group” includes Kathy Hollenback, TEA Party candidate running as a fake democrat, Ed Johnson, an MSU student running for the Legislature as a Republican; and Kyndall Miller, daughter of Ken Miller, who lost in the GOP Gubernatorial primary against Rick Hill in 2012.

Both Ed Johnson and Hollenback are running in HD66, in the heart of Bozeman.

Monforton wrote a letter to the editor in the Bozeman Chronicle recently denigrating the elected body he himself is seeking to join as a “parliament of whores.” Rick Hill hired Bozeman Tea Party hot-head Monforton to give him legal advice. It it was Monforton’s idea to take the infamous $500,000 donation, and it was perhaps the worst legal advice in Montana political history, probably destroying Hill’s campaign.

To my knowledge, the Gallatin Republicans have’t weighed in on this deception yet, nor have they explained why Gallatin Republicans have a white supremacist on their website, Drew Turiano.