Category Archives: 2014 Elections

Update on Mailergate, and How You Can Take Action

mailergateThe question that everyone wants answered right now is: who paid for two Stanford “researchers” and one researcher Dartmouth College to send 100,000 fake “voter guides” into Montana, with the look and feel of official state voter guides.  Stanford has apologized, Dartmouth has been silent.  Stanford is also claiming it to have been a part of a political science “study” to see how injecting partisanship into our non-partisan Supreme Court election would effect voters.

There are a few strange circumstances surrounding this whole thing, and we need answers. First, understand that what the mailers actually say isn’t “Paid for by Stanford and Dartmouth” but rather, “Paid for by researchers at Stanford University and Dartmouth College.”  This is an important distinction.  It means, perhaps, that the University staff might have  gotten funds for the project from an outside source.  That happens very often  as corporate influence grows in academia. Stanford and Dartmouth faculty, as is the case in many major universities, often work for hire and make good money doing it.  We know that Stanford and the Hewlett Foundation apparently paid for some of this research, but we do not know if they funded all of it or which parts.

Say I am a professor of political science at one of these schools.  I learn that Stanford University prohibits research funded by the tobacco industry.  No problem.  I have my own company for that.  I accept the funds not through Stanford, but through my private research or consulting firm, and yet I still allow Phillip Morris to say the research I did “was conducted by Stanford Professor Dr. Jane Smith.”  See how this works?

This very thing, in fact, caused a big controversy a few years ago between former Governor Brian Schweitzer and a law professor at the University of Montana.  She published a “study” in which she concluded that the tax climate in Montana was bad for business.  Unfortunately, the study was not commissioned or funded by the University but by a private group, the Tax Foundation, which consists of a bunch of right-wing economic imbeciles who spend 40 hours a week worshipping Ronald Reagan.  I think this is how many major schools are able to take advantage of corporate money.

We don’t know whether these Dartmouth and Stanford researchers were using such funds, but it is something that I am looking forward to finding out.  What if a conservative think tank funded the project?  It would be a wholesale corruption of academia and of politics; actually, it’d be corruption by academia of politics.

Although it’s  too early to tell what’s going on,  the #mtpol crowd on twitter today from railing against Dartmouth and Stanford and acting as if these universities had launched a full scale invasion against Montana.   We should all take a deep breath.  The state of Montana will still be here Monday, ill conceived though the mailer may have been. Even Jon Tester got into the act, sending a letter to the Postmaster General demanding that he investigate whether federal law has been broken, and sending a letter to  Stanford’s President John Hennessy and Dartmouth’s president Philip Hanlon, seeking answers.  This comes on the heals of a Linda McCulloch press conference yesterday, which she followed up today by filing a formal complaint with the Commissioner of Political Practices.

Basic questions abound and need answers.  For one thing, how can a learned professional who is an expert in politics and government not understand the nature of a mailer that links a candidate in Montana to president Obama, who is at 27% job approval?  How could they not understand the basic rules of political practices?  Conversely, why would anyone think that a single mailer, which most people glance at and then toss along with 30 other political mailers that arrive at their home, would have any meaningful influence on this race?  I assume that these professors were going to do some sort of poll of voters who received the mailer, can compare it to a poll of voters who did not, and then see if the mailer had any effect on the recipients.  It just seems kind of silly, given the amount of mail flying around on the judicial race, that these researchers could somehow test the efficacy of the mailer of their choice.  Finally, what of the ethical question at the root of this? Namely, should a University be using a state as a petri dish, meddling with our political process and causing real-world results to the citizens of Montana?  Doesn’t that cross the line? And what if these professors are, in fact, getting paid by a right-leaning entity so that the Stanford and Dartmouth names are stamped on this effort, to disguise it as a research project?

Unfortunately, neither Dartmouth nor Stanford will say precisely where the money came from.  That’s not good, and it entitled us to speculate wildly. I also wonder whether the Stanford University and Dartmouth College faculty senate have even heard of this controversy, or if so, whether they will take action.  They need to get in the game and should probably do an investigation of their own.  Recall that it was the faculty senate, not the President, that forced Stanford University to ban funding and grants from Big Tobacco for research and development, and to divest the endowment from tobacco stocks. How can Cowgirl Blog readers take action?  Give the presidents of Stanford and Dartmouth a shout, and ask them why they are treating our voters like guinea pigs.

President John Hennesy
Dartmouth College President Philip Hanlon

President’s.Office@Dartmouth.edu Phone: 603-646-2223 And, let the faculty senates know what’s going on. Russell Berman is Chair of the Stanford University Faculty Senate.  He can be reached at:650 723 1069 / 650 723-1068 berman@stanford.edu Dean Michael Mastanduno is the Chair of the Dartmouth College Committee of Chairs of the Arts and Sciences Faculty michael.mastanduno@dartmouth.edu 603-646-3999 It might be good to send them both some of the local media reports for background.  Here’s the most recent.   They should also be asked to demand that these professors disclose who paid for this disaster.

Judy Goldstien is Chair of the Department of Political Science at Stanford.  She is also a member of the Faculty Senate judy@stanford.edu (650) 723 0671

John Michael Carey is Chair of the Department of Government at Dartmouth john.m.carey@dartmouth.edu 603-646 1130

It is important to know that Prof. Adam Bonica, one of the authors of the study, is a member of Chair Judy Goldstien’s Political Science Dept.  It would be good to ask her why Bonica is meddling in Montana’s elections? Did she know about this?  What will she do about this?  Does she know who paid for it?  Kyle Dropp is under Professor Carey?  What does he know about Kyle Tropp’s meddling in our elections?

Richard P. Saller is Dean of School of Humanities & Sciences and  he is an ex Officio member Faculty Senate

The Stanford Department of Political Science is part of the  School of Humanities.  He needs to be asked the same questions posed to Dept. Chair Judy Goldstein.

 

UPDATED 10-24: Two involved in Stanford fake voter guide scandal are fellows at right-wing think tank

More info has emerged on the 100,000 fake voters guides from Stanford and Dartmouth that flooded Montana this week, which were falsely presented as an official state mailing and urged voters to make a partisan decision in the non-partisan supreme court race.  Stanford University claims the mailers were part of an “experiment” on our elections, which is about an unethical as you can get.

Cowgirl tiptsters also report that Stanford University is affiliated with the conservative think tank the Hoover Institution, and what do you know–two of the people behind this experiment, Adam Bonica and Jonathan Rodden, are both Hoover Institution Fellows.

It’s also important to note that the Stanford Office of Sponsored Research (this is actually the name, no snark) doesn’t review studies for objectives or methodology, only for costs.

Also the Flathead Memo had obtained Stanford’s canned talking points on the election experiment scandal. So you can read them here.  Note that the talking points do not disclose who paid for the study.  Was it the Hoover Institution or one of their affiliated funders?  The “researchers” did not respond to multiple requests to disclose who funded the mailers.

Big Sky Words has more on the specific people behind the fake mailers. After he posted the names I was able to google them and found they were Hoover Institution Fellows.   The more you peek under the thin veil of pond scum, the more you see this looks less and less like a legitimate study and more and more like a right-wing ploy to influence our elections.

Out-of State Universities Seek to Influence MT Elections, Call it “Academic Experiment”

Send Deceptive Mailers Posed as Official State Voter Guide Linking Non-Partisan Candidates with Obama

Some troubling information has come to light today.  Stanford and Dartmouth universities have appartently produced a fake “voter guide” to instruct Montana voters to make a partisan decision on the non-partisan MT Supreme Court race.

The mailers, which are posted at the Flathead Memo here, also use the Montana State seal to provide the (false) impression that the mailing is an official state publication and paint our non-partisan supreme court candidates on a spectrum of who is most like Obama and who is not.  The Flathead Memo’s James Conner writes that the mailer:

resents information in a way that invites voters to conclude that researchers at two of America’s most prestigious universities want them to know that Mike Wheat is a very liberal man; almost as liberal as that black devil in the White House. Given the context, only a fool would conclude the card is intended to help Wheat.

The schools claim that the fliers are part of a study “on the impact of information about candidate positioning on turnout and ballot roll-off” in nonpartisan elections.

There are serious ethical problems with using our elections as a science experiment.  I’ve detailed some of them here:

1.  First, it simply not ethical to deliberately seek to influence the outcome of our elections to “see what happens” as a school political science experiment. The Montana Supreme Court race is our state’s most important statewide race this election cycle - and the outcome of the race could shift the balance of the court as a whole.

I suppose these professors from California and New Hampshire may think their little experiment is quite interesting.  They may think it is okay meddle in our elections because we live “out in the middle of nowhere,” because we don’t make a lot of money, and because we have a small population.  But these are our lives.  This is our Supreme Court. And it’s wrong to to use an election that has profound impacts on the lives of the people of our state as an academic experiment.

The Montana Supreme Court makes decisions that have real and very serious consequences - decisions about whether women have a constitutional right to medical privacy, whether discriminatory marriage and anti-equality laws will be allowed to stand, and on our constitutional right to a clean and healthful environment.  We live here, and we have to live with the decisions our Supreme Court makes.

2. Here in Montana, we the people have decided as a state that we want our Supreme Court elections to be non-partisan.  Apparently, Stanford and Dartmouth decided that the research questions of some of the professors at these schools outweighed the concerns Montanans had with partisan elections.

The Cowgirl Blog has obtained information on the research aims of this deceptive and unethical meddling.  It looks like the plan was to give our non-partisan candidates a partisan score, then to study the impact on turnout and outcome of making our non-partisan races partisan.  I guess they don’t care what we really think.  They probably think of us as a measly amount of inconsequential people in a flyover state.  Summary here.  Longer research paper here. 

It is unethical for these out-of-state universities to decide to paint our non-partisan candidates in a partisan light as an experiment to see what happens when our wishes as a state for non-partisan elections are violated.  Putting non-partisan races on a partisan spectrum also of course influences electoral outcomes, by making them more likely to come out along traditional partisan lines.

3. The third concern here is that is unethical for these universities to conduct their little experiment by disguising it as an official state publication, plastered with the Official State Seal of Montana.   Montana’s Commissioner of Political Practices and Montana’s Secretary of State today called for an official investigation into the deceptive mailers. 

4. Apparently, the political scientists at Stanford and Dartmouth do not comprehend the impact of taking a non-partisan race in a conservative leaning state and painting one of the candidates as about as close to Obama as you can get and the other candidate as less like Obama–when Obama polls at 20% or whatever in this state.

If there is truly any political science professor anywhere who doesn’t understand how doing this will impact the outcome of an election, they should be immediately fired.  And predictably (by everyone except the imbeciles behind this “experiment”), the Montana Republican party, which has sued to make our Supreme Court races more partisan, is already touting how helpful these mailings are to their goals. 

5. There are also several questionable elements to the mailing–elements which are not particularly credible or scholarly and call into question whether the piece can actually be considered with a straight face part of any legitimate academic exercise.

First, according to information Cowgirl tipsters obtained from the U.S. post office, the bulk mail permit used to send these mailers belonged to:

 Progressive Direct Mail Advertising, Inc
2089 West 2300 South
Salt Lake City, UT  84119

For a mailing on behalf of an entity called:

Everest College
3280 West 3500 South, Suite A
Salt Lake City, UT  84119

If the mailings were really from Stanford and Dartmouth, why did they come from Everest College, which is part of an online for-profit education conglomerate and the subject of a recent federal bailout scandal. 

6. There are a couple of reasons this mailing is clearly intended to influence and elections and not provide academic assistance to voters. Urging Montanans to “Take this to the polls” on “Election Date: November 4, 2014” clearly makes this an electoral mailing and not a public service mailing.

There is also something odd about to whom the mailing was sent.  I’ve talked to several tipsters whose households received multiple copies.  When you get non-householded political mail like this, you often finds it comes from an unethical  mail house consultant who is billing on a per-piece basis. Which is something a consultant is only incentivized to do with mailing lists that are very very large in size – much larger than would be needed for an academic study sample size. UPDATE:  I’m told that Stanford now admits it sent 100,000 mailers in the Supreme Court race.  That’s a $50,000 dollar mailing injected into a race where both candidates have raised under $200k.

7. Another question that hasn’t been answered is whether and how montanans4justice.com part of the project.  This site uses the same “how much is a candidate like Obama” theme – only it uses little pictures of the candidates heads (note how close Wheat’s head is placed to Obama’s.  My question is whether this site is part of the Stanford and Dartmouth “study” and if not who is paying for it.

Finally, it needs to be disclosed who paid for these mailings.  Were they funded by the universities directly?  Through grants?   Who funded the grants? The people of Montana deserve to know.

 UPDATE: Those behind the mailer are fellows with the right-wing Hoover Institution, which is affiliated with Stanford.

 

Flathead Memo: Out-of-State Group Sends Fake Voter Guide to Deceive MT Voters

Another disturbing development in the Montana Supreme Court race today as more comes out on the radical right-wingers working to elect Lawrence VanDyk. VanDyke has practiced law in Montana for only one year (compared to Mike Wheat’s 36) having briefly worked for Tim Fox, but quitting in a huff because he didn’t want to work on the cases he was assigned.

An out-of-state group has produced a fake “voter guide” to instruct voters to make a partisan decision on the non-partisan MT Supreme Court race.  The mailers, which I have posted here, also use the Montana State seal to provide the (false) impression that the mailing is an official state publication.  The Flathead Memo has an analysis up on the mailer here, which you’ll want to go read.  James Conner writes that the mailer:

resents information in a way that invites voters to conclude that researchers at two of America’s most prestigious universities want them to know that Mike Wheat is a very liberal man; almost as liberal as that black devil in the White House. Given the context, only a fool would conclude the card is intended to help Wheat.

 

I’ll have updates as more information becomes available.  James Conner has the mailer posted so you can see it on his site.

Powerful New Ad Shows Why We Should Not Let GOP Legislators Take Our Voting Rights

“The Right to Vote is the Basis of Freedom.” Lance Cpl. Tomy Parker, Ronan, MT

It’s pretty telling that the GOP-controlled legislature put LR-126 on the ballot to restrict our voting rights.  Vote no on LR-126, and spread the word about the republicans who voted for it.

Every single Republican state senator voted to restrict our voting rights. Every single one.

The treasurer of the committee that has been formed to advocate for L-R126–the ballot measure that would eliminate election-day registration and result in thousands of Montanans being unable to vote–is a woman named Shelby DeMars, who also happens to be Ryan Zinke’s campaign spokesperson.

 

 

Lawrence VanDyke Left Some Things Out of His Candidate Bio


Screen Shot 2014-10-16 at 9.54.41 PM
Montana Supreme Court candidate Lawrence VanDyke has omitted from his candidate bio and website that he is part of a group of attorneys called the Blackstone Project whose aim is to “reorder society” and turn the U.S. into a theocracy.

The Blackstone Project and its “Fellows,” of whom VanDyke is one, have committed to commit to using their legal careers “to ‘reorder society’ according to a ‘christendomic’ worldview, in which there is no separation between church and state,”  as the women’s reproductive health news organization RH Reality Check reports.  The Alliance Defending Freedom to Discriminate Against LGBT People runs the Blackstone Project.

The Cowgirl Blog has obtained information that shows VanDyke’s affiliation with Alliance Defending Freedom–and his membership in the group’s Blackstone Fellowship Project, which can be seen here. [screenshot]

Screen Shot 2014-10-22 at 8.05.32 AMAs RH Reality Check reports, Blackstone Project Fellows strive “to glorify God as society is reordered bit by bit according to His design.”  The project includes readings from the Christian Reconstructionism Movement.  As the Southern Poverty Law Center reports, Christian Reconstructionism is “a theocratic movement that seeks to demolish American democracy and replace it with the legal code of the Old Testament, which calls for stoning to death adulterers, homosexuals and in some cases, wayward children.”  

Lawrence VanDyke chose to omit these things from his candidate bio-nor does he mention his own bachelor’s degree in theology [screenshot]. These things are not mentioned on his webpage [screenshot] and he doesn’t mention them in his ads or in interviews with the media.

Voters have a right to know who this man really is and what his true objective is in this race. It’s pretty clear VanDyke left these things out because he knows that the voters of Montana don’t want our society reordered into a theocracy, taking us back to the Dark Ages. Plus these revelations wipe out his whole campaign message – in which he has tried to make the case that Montanans shouldn’t vote for someone who would inject personal ideology into the race–someone like VanDyke himself.

Indeed it seems there is somewhat of a cloud of secrecy not just around VanDyke’s role in the Blackstone Project, but around the Blackstone Project itself, which does not publicize its relationships between Project Fellows and state offices of Attorney’s General and has insisted in public statements that they are “not the illuminati.” So at this point we do not know if VanDyke was recruited to work for Fox specifically for Blackstone Project purposes or because Fox just works hard to recruit any variety of wingnut.

However,  it is interesting to note that Tim Fox’s replacement for Van Dyke is said to be an Alliance Defending Freedom attorney too.  Word on the street is that Dale Schowengerdt, who made a name for himself defending business owners who discriminate against LGBT people, will be the next solicitor for AG Fox.  He’ll likely show up in the marriage equality case pending before Judge Morris in Great Falls. (That’s the case VanDyke is alleged to have quit over after refusing to work on it.) If it comes out that Fox is recruiting lawyers based on their goals to reorder society into a theocracy then this issue indeed could become not just Van Dyke’s problem but Fox’s as well.  

Perhaps it is time for another public records request for all communications between Fox’s staff and this group.

Hate Group Hosted Fundraiser for Lawrence VanDyke

Today, more details were revealed about the Washington DC fundraiser held for Supreme Court Candidate Lawrence VanDyke by the so-called Family Research Council, a group the the Southern Poverty Law Center designated as a hate group.

If you aren’t familiar with this group yet, you should know that the Family Research Council is totally dedicated to promoting hatred, denigration, misinformation and discrimination against  LGBT Americans.  The group’s leader is Tony Perkins who is on the record as supporting Uganda’s “kill all gays” bill.  [screenshot here] The group even lobbied Congress to try to convince the U.S. not to condemn the Ugandan law.

Tony Perkins has a history of working with white-supremacist organizations, the SPLC explains:

In 1996…Perkins paid $82,500 to use the mailing list of former Klan chieftain David Duke. The campaign was fined $3,000 (reduced from $82,500) after Perkins and Jenkins filed false disclosure forms in a bid to hide their link to Duke. Five years later, on May 17, 2001, Perkins gave a speech to the Louisiana chapter of the Council of Conservative Citizens (CCC), a white supremacist group that has described black people as a “retrograde species of humanity.”

As Right Wing Watch reported today, among those donating to VanDyke at the fundraiser were prominent figures in the War on Women and anti-gay movements, including leaders of the militant anti-choice group Americans United for Life , Koch Brothers-funded groups, and the anti-gay hate group Alliance Defending Freedom.

Today’s Must-Read Political Blog Post

Is up on Preserve the Beartooth Front, where David Katz writes about how the Montana Supreme Court race could impact the front’s future.  You can read it here:

Outside corporate interests are trying to shift the balance of the Montana Supreme Court. What it means for oil drilling along the Beartooth Front.

 

ANALYSIS: Curtis Puts Daines on Defense in U.S. Senate Debate

Today, it was made quite clear why Steve Daines has sought to desperately to avoid debating democrat Amanda Curtis in the U.S. Senate race. Tonight’s debate was Daines’ to lose.  And he did.

Daines’ strategy throughout the campaign (and indeed throughout his tenure as a member of Congress) has been to try to hide his true views, beliefs, and acts from Montana voters–all while voting as Montana’s most extreme-right member of Congress in state history.  But tonight, Amanda Curtis made sure the TEA Party congressman had to answer for some of his ideological oddities–and his actual voting record–and it was quite a treat to watch.

Daines looked visibly shaken several times after he tried to answer a question, only to have Curtis, a high school math teacher and popular state legislator, point out how his voting record contradicted his claims.  Daines has never had an opponent go toe to toe with him before, and he was clearly not comfortable being called out for his true views.

Take, for example, the statement Daines made in answer to Dennison’s question about how banning abortion served the people of Montana.  Daines tried to say he supports access to birth control, but Curtis pointed out that Daines actually voted to ban it.  In response, Daines awkwardly muttered something about how he hopes his daughter has access to birth control “some day.”  I guess he means some day after he is no longer in Congress.  It was a very strange moment in the debate.

Obviously the new GOP thing is for their candidates to try to hide their anti-birth control history and message – clearly they’ve realized they can’t win otherwise.  Daines tried to make us believe he supported birth control, but he couldn’t quite pull it off.

Even if he hadn’t flubbed the question tonight, women are figuring out that that Daines has made repeated attempts to take away our rights as women to make our own healthcare decisions, outlaw birth control, eliminate prevention efforts and authorize the IRS to audit rape victims. In the past, Daines has also tried to claim that he supports victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, but of course what he does not mention is that he voted against funding the same domestic violence and sexual assault prevention programs he touts.

Another golden moment in the debate came when Curtis pointed out that we need a better representative in the Senate than someone who throws tantrums with the whole government shutdown and ACA repeal idiocy. Surprisingly, Daines refused to say he wouldn’t vote to shutdown the government again – even after being asked the question twice.  Even after it was pointed out by Curtis that Daines refused to say he wouldn’t shut down the government again.

I was surprised that the TEA Party Congressman ran from his own anti-Affordable Care Act votes – claiming he hadn’t voted for 40 of the 50 some ACA repeal measures the U.S. house passed.   Daines said he only voted for repeal once.  Which is easily disproven. Daines himself has bragged about his repeal votes in his press releases and public statements, but I guess he forgot about that – or hopes we did. Curtis didn’t.

It’s interesting also to see how defensive Daines was on the GOP boondoggle conceived by TEA Party GOP vice-Chair Jennifer Fielder and TEA Party Rep. Kerry White - the public land grab scheme they passed unanimously at the GOP convention.    The GOP legislators’ proposal was so unpopular that it must have started to hurt their federal candidates in the polls, because now we see both Zinke and Daines running from an idea they both have publicly supported.

Perhaps it was Zinke and Daines who convinced the TEA party imbeciles in the Montana legislature to nix their own proposal to try to cauterize the wound they inflicted on their own party.

Amanda Curtis and John Lewis have both been successful in putting their opponents on defense simply by shining a light on what they really stand for.  And this strategy I suspect will continue to close the ever narrowing gap in the polls.

I’m interested to see what others who heard the debate think.  Also, if you haven’t seen it yet, there’s a good factcheck of the statements Daines made tonight online here.

Live Blog of the Curtis Daines Debate

5:57 pm I had thought that Twitter put live blogging out of business, but others say Twitter in Montana political circles is still a tiny niche audience and live blogging reaches more people – would be interested in what readers think.  You can follow the debate here for regular updates.

6:02 Audience asked not to clap, hiss or boo.  Amanda Curtis introduced first as a Butte High School math teacher and Montana legislator.

6:04 pm Debate moderators introduced: Mike Dennison of Lee Newspapers, Jackie Yamanaka of Yellowstone Public Radio, and TV reporter and political director for KXLH, Sanjay Talwani.

6:06 pm First question on ISIS – Curtis says we can’t be the world’s police and we must ask where the money will come from

Daines claims the president lacks strategy and needs approval of congress. Daines tries to say the response to ISIS is “secure our borders.”

Daines asked how we will pay for ISIS threat but avoids question with “secure the homeland” platitudes.

6:08 pm  Daines asked if he would shut down the government again. Tries to blame president Obama for government shut down. Says it “takes two” to shut down the government. Total cop-out. Tries to justify it by saying he didn’t take a salary during that time.

Curtis reminds audience that Daines voted for shutdown and is so out of touch he can afford to go without pay which is something most Montanans can’t do. Gets audible agreement from audience.

Daines asked again to answer the question of whether he would vote for the shut down again.  Curtis points out that Daines didn’t say he would not vote for a shutdown again.

 

6:14 pm Talwani question for Daines on repealing Affordable Care Act and replacing it with “tort reform”  Will this really help people get health insurance?

 

Daines says response to health care is “tax deductions” and tort reform to save money.  Also Health Savings Accounts – doesn’t mention these mean nothing without health coverage.  Daines also tries to say that ACA should be repealed because not everyone will have insurance coverage even though it passed.  Makes no sense.

 

6:19 pm Sanjay T. points out  in a question to Daines: if people can’t afford health insurance, can these people afford health savings accounts – will they benefit from tax cuts?

6:22 pm  Dennison asks Daines about his statement that abortion should be illegal in most cases.  His true position is that he opposes abortion in ALL cases, even when a woman is raped.

Curtis nails Daines for voting for a bill to ban most forms of birth control.

Daines is saying something weird about how the first amendment supposedly limits birth control. As Curtis points out, Daines is saying he supports Hobby Lobby decision to let corporations decide which women get birth control and which do not.  Well done Curtis.

6:28 pm Debate is half over – taking a 1 minute break.

6:30 pm – Odd Question from Jay Kohn about whether “one of us” means a dumber U.S. Senate.  Curtis points out that the founders did not intend corporations to run the U.S. Senate and Curtis says you don’t need to be a silver-spoon fed politician to be a good senator.

Follow up – asked if Curtis has the experience to be a good U.S. Senator.  Curtis says she has dedicated her life to education because it is the pathway out of poverty. Daines is saying something weird about his grandparent’s high school mascot….trying to relate to normal people I guess after Amanda’s comments about relating to working families.  Not really impressed by this pathetic response by Daines.

6:34 pm Daines called on carpet by Jay Kohn for touting a bill in one of his campaign ads that has never even passed – his so-called balanced budget act.  In my opinion, it is disingenuous to take credit for a bill that never passed.  As Jay said – “isn’t this just a symbolic bill with no teeth?”  Kohn calls the ad false.

Glad to see moderator holding Daines accountable.

6:36 pm Jackie Y. asks Daines about what his real concrete specific Medicare reform proposals are.  Daines is saying he supports “reforms” but is not saying what they are.  He again avoids the question.  It’s becoming a theme tonight (Daines avoiding answering.)

6:39 pm Daines claims the Affordable Care Act harms in-home health care for seniors, says he knows this anecdotally.  Curtis reminds audience that Daines has a 10% (abysmal) rating with seniors groups.

6:40 pm Dennison to Curtis - Why should I support you if I’m a gun owner?  Curtis points out she does not opposed guns and was just out shooting recently.  Daines goes all TEA Party liberty and freedom language on guns, says guns are not about hunting….

6:41 pm Curtis points out that Daines has lowest rating on conservation/public lands of any politician ever in MT – a 4%.

6:42 pm Talwani asks Daines why he refuses to compromise on public lands solution proposed by Tester that would result in logging and timber jobs – a solution that can actually pass.  Daines says Tester’s bill is “a good start.”  But he doesn’t say why he wouldn’t vote for it.

Curtis said she supports Forest Jobs and Recreation Act as a true compromise by Tester.  Says Daines didn’t support the Montana solution and instead is forcing a DC solution Montanans don’t back.

6:46 pm Jackie Y.:  What do you think should be done on immigration to protect public health?  Curtis supports doctors and agencies working to protect us from biological threats. Points out that Daines voted for shutdown, which harmed these agencies.

Daines repeats “secure the borders” pablum again.  Starts telling some anecdote he heard from a Texas house member. Says “secure the borders” a few more times.  Says the threat of ebola and national security is at stake.

Curtis says she supports immigration reform.

6:49 pm Dennison asks how Daines jobs rhetoric isn’t just warmed over trickle down economics.  Daines launches into his same talking points in response.  Seems to believe Keystone pipeline is some kind of magical talisman for the middle class.

6:52 pm And at this point, the live stream from KUFM’s website appears to be no longer functional. (Or Charter internet just stinks–always need to remember this possibility is probably the most likely.)

6:53 pm Last question about to be asked.  MSU-B poll says 20-25% still decided in the race.  Candidates asked to give their final pitches.

Curtis says people should be able to retire without worrying about where their groceries are from.  Says out public lands shouldn’t be sold off and that Medicare shouldn’t be a voucher system.  Daines thinks corporations are people and money is speech.  Intermittent cheering.

Daines says he “grew up a sportsman” and has an A plus rating for NRA. Says “Montanans vote their guns.” More jobs blah blah blah – I’m not Obama, basically.  (Curtis pointed out earlier that Obama isn’t on the ballot.)  Daines tries to say his background is different than most in congress.  Bwhahahahahha!  Right.  Basically keeps saying “I’m not Obama.”  Really embarrassing.

Curtis says choice is between Daines, most extreme Congressman Montana has ever had, and a woman like herself. Says she’ll help all sectors of economy, not just big corporations. Says as Montana’s first female senator she’ll vote for equal pay for equal work and FOR the minimum wage.  Loud cheering, louder and longer than for Daines.

Debate concludes.