Category Archives: TEA Party

Fact Checking GOP Hypocrisy on Federal Funds

The Montana legislature has proven itself to be more concerned with TEA Party orthodoxy than with our well-being, health, and economy. One of the most glaring examples of this is how they rejected free medcaid money for the Medicaid expansion–in a state where 16 percent of the population is still uninsured–in a state with the lowest percentage of employer-sponsored health care in the U.S.

When Montana TEA partiers and legislators try to explain why they refused money to pay for 100% of the health care benefits for 70,000 working poor Montanans for three years and never less than 90% of this cost, they try to make it sound like we’re taking on a “long-term liability” because they claim the feds will refuse to pay their. Even thought this share is mandated by federal law–and even though this has never happened with Medicaid which has been operating in Montana since 1965. They say that accepting Montana’s share of this federal money makes us “lemmings about to jump off the cliff” and demand “belt tightening” to end the “tyranny” of federal funding.

Yet there is a mind-numbing level of hypocrisy on this front. It seems that some federal dollars are tyrannical lemming bait and others are not. Montanans welcome billions in federal funds that build highways, bring c130s and f15s to Great Falls, fight fires, clean up asbestos in Libby, and of course hand out  farm subsidies for Montana legislators. But when it comes to providing affordable health coverage to our working poor neighbors, some lawmakers want to draw the line. Why? Because they believe that federal funding for health coverage is somehow different than funding for concrete slabs, cleanup crews, or wildfire fighting camps. Of course, there isn’t any difference between these federal funds and the supposed dependencies they create—except in what the money pays for, and who it helps.

When Montana obstructionists refuse to accept these federal funds, they are saying that Montanan’s federal tax dollars won’t be put to work to help Montanans but will be instead sent to other states. The money won’t be circulating in Montana’s economy at all. This is beyond hypocritical: it’s just stupid. If a state rejects federal funding, that money is reallocated to other states. That’s how it works – those funds don’t magically go pay down federal debts. In fact the Republican controlled house refused to even move a bill to change this out of committee, so you know this is true, and its not going to be any different.

Next time you here someone trying to make the anti-federal money argument to hurt working poor families, feel free to set them straight.

 

 

Montana is at the Forefront of National Fight Against Election Corruption

A Montana case is the next battle in the fight to keep elections from being for sale to the highest bidder by keeping campaign finance limits in place.

Now, a group of leading national legal non-profit advocacy groups including Free Speech for People, former Montana Supreme Court Justice James Nelson, the American Independent Business Alliance,  the American Sustainable Business Council.the Campaign Legal Center, Common Cause, Justice at Stake and the League of Women Voters are joining Montanans in the fight to keep Montana’s campaign finance limits in place.

The groups joined the defense of Montana’s campaign finance limits with an amicus brief and and amici brief in Lair v. Motl.  They are urging the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit to overturn a District Court ruling that struck down Montana’s political campaign contribution limits.  Earlier, a District Court disregarded both Ninth Circuit and Supreme Court precedent to overturn Montana’s limits on contributions to state candidates, including judges, from individuals and political parties.

In Lair v. Motl, American Traditions Partnership board member Doug Lair wants campaign finance limits abolished.  Several prominent Republican office holders and candidates in Montana caught up in the infamous Meth House Scandal, in which documents belonging to the infamous American Tradition Partnership (ATP), were found in a Colorado meth house.  The documents incriminated TEA Party Senate leader Art Wittich, Mike Miller, Derek Skees, Pat Wagman, Jerry O’Neil, Bob Wagner, Dan Kennedy, Scott Mendenhall, Wendy Warburton, Ed Butcher, and Tom Burnett to name a few.  Wager, Burnett, Miller, O’Neil and Wittich are currently running for office.

Here’s how Ron Fein, Legal Director of Free Speech For People, explains it:  “Campaign contribution limits are justified by an interest in ensuring political equality for all, regardless of access to wealth. When political equality is jeopardized, democracy itself is at risk.”

Justice James Nelson, a former Justice of the Montana Supreme Court, and on of the court’s most respected justices, said, “Candidates for political office and elections should not be for sale to the biggest spenders. The Supreme Court has decreed that money equals speech; and contribution limits help to level a playing field tipped in favor of the big spenders by Citizens United.”  I could not agree more.

The District Court overturned the Montana’s candidate contribution limits applicable to individuals and PACs, even though the limits have already been upheld by the Ninth Circuit.

In addition to the limits on candidate contributions from individuals and PACs, the lower court struck down Montana’s limits as they apply to contributions from political party committees. Montana does not limit the amount that any individual or PAC may give to political parties, but instead restricts the “aggregate” amount a candidate can receive from his or her political party.

Surprisingly, the issue hasn’t been covered by Montana news outlets, even though its the next step in a nationwide battle to protect America’s and Montana’s elections from corruption.

After all, this case comes on the heels of the Supreme Court’s recent decision in McCutcheon v. FEC, which struck down longstanding limits on the total amount of money wealthy individuals could contribute to federal candidates in an election cycle. As with the Citizens United ruling which now allows unlimited corporate dollars into our elections, the high court’s McCutcheon decision is unleashing further money into the political process from wealthy interests.

We’ll see if it gets more attention by Montana reporters after the op-ed by Justice Jim Nelson and Ron Fein appeared in yesterday’s Billings Gazette.

Idaho Tribe Nixes Bigot Ted Nugent: Wyoming TEA Party Makes Him Keynote Speaker

An Idaho tribe has cancelled an appearance by racist rocker Ted Nugent at a public casino this week.  Meanwhile the Wyoming TEA Party has nabbed him to be the keynote speaker at its upcoming annual event.

The Coeur d’Alene Tribe of American Indians  has a history of being strong human rights supporters, so it’s not surprising that the tribe immediately cancelled Nugent when it learned of the booking.  The Southern Poverty Law Center reports that Nugent, a board member of the National Rifle Association,

has a “long history of racism, sexism, homophobia, Islamophobia, animus towards immigrants, and propensity to use violence-tinged language,” Media Matters reported earlier this year.

That came after Nugent called President Obama a “subhuman mongrel” and referred to him as a “chimpanzee.” Nugent previously called Obama a Nazi and a “piece of shit” who should “suck on my machine gun.” He once called Hilary Clinton a “toxic cunt” and, on another topic, said, “I’m beginning to wonder if it would have been best [if] had the South won the Civil War.”

Apparently, these same “qualities” make Nugent a perfect person to address Wyoming TEA partiers. WY TEA Partiers told the Casper Star Tribune that Nugent “thinks he can help” Wyoming–a state which used to be proud to call itself “The Equality State.”

Backpedaling Underscores Land Transfer Problems

That didn’t take long.

Republican Party leaders are already trying to distance themselves from a costly land transfer boondoggle which was supported unanimously at the recent GOP platform convention. This after word is starting to get around about how the land transfer would increase our taxes by hundreds of millions, and inflict a major blow to Montana’s tourism economy especially in communities surrounding Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks like Kalispell, Bozeman, West Yellowstone and others.

Montana Republican Party Vice Chair Jennifer Fielder tried to tell a legislative panel Thursday that a report out-of-state land grab advocates are pushing “does not recommend transferring federal lands to state ownership or management” and that “None of the recommended legislation would transfer [land] either.”

Of course, the facts have already shown otherwise. Just last month Republicans unanimously supported including the land transfer in their party platform – without an exception even for national parks.  And then there’s the fact that not just two of  boondoggle’s biggest cheerleaders, Vice-Chair Jennifer Fielder herself (fast forward to about 45 min in) and Rep. Kerry White (TEA-Gallatin County) have been caught on video supporting the lands transfer.  And video evidence now exists of nearly every Flathead area conservative candidate supporting the transfer: Oops.

Fielder’s swift and very public backpedaling underscores the political difficulties facing this idea.

A recent University of Montana poll found that 2/3 of Montanans oppose the idea, which has already become a defining issue in Wyoming’s top 2014 races (and not in a way that helps TEA Party republicans.)  Utah’s own legislative legal council said the idea is likely unconstitutional (Utah passed a bill to do this which is already facing legal problems.)  The idea faces heavy political opposition a well. As Rep. Bill McChesney (D-Eastern Montana) pointed out during the legislative panel, “This state not for sale.”

This is the second time Republican leadership has had to try to distance themselves from the ideas surrounding this land transfer. At an event promoting the land transfer earlier this year the Missoula Independent reported that a speaker from Defend Rural America called the environmental movement “domestic terrorists.”

 

The Montana GOP Hypocrite of the Week Award Goes to…

…right-wing conservative candidate Tonya Shellnut of Billings.

For writing a book chronicling her own choices and lamenting the lack of control she had over her own body–then leading an organization whose goal is the shame women and deny them freedom and control over their own bodies–Tonya Shellnut is this week’s hands down winner. 

Tonya Shellnut is the Montana State Director for Concerned Women for America, a position for which she apparently volunteers because the organization has not been able to raise any funds to pay a staff person.

“The Concerned Women for America,” as your women friends will surely tell you, is concerned with some very important stuff, especially about calling feminists sluts and telling us to keep our legs shut and denying women the freedom to obtain birth control.  Shellnut doesn’t mention the Concerned Women on her website, nor does she mention some of the aspects of her life story chronicled her book, “Women Power Revolution: shellnutbookUnderstanding True Feminism” (written like the Ron Paul Revolution graphic) in which she explains how she found that true “feminism” was of the conservative “true femininity” woman hating right-wing traditional role variety.

The book contains passages describing Shellnut’s own life, such as the time she, on her 13th birthday, decided to “get all dolled up and found any male willing to show [her] some attention” then “got drunk” and as Shellnut puts it “gave my innocence” to a 21-year old. Screen shot 2014-06-18 at 7.27.00 AM

Her book describes various other alcoholic blackouts and episodes of  “waking up completely naked with someone I did not know next to me” and finding herself “unwed and pregnant” which is of course a very big no-no in the right-wing Concerned Women for America doctrine.

Indeed, Shellnut also writes that she was a victim of sexual abuse in her book.  For lamenting this lack of control over her own body, then signing up up to lead a movement which denies other women that control makes Shellnut a hypocrite.  You can read more passages from her book here, here, and here.

Concerned Women of American made a stopover in Montana last election cycle as part a bus tour of Chick-fil-A restaurants and “parking lots near Chick-Fil-A”s  to tell America about their highly credible organization. According to the watchdog group Right Wing Watch,  the Concerned Women for America are concerned that health care reform violates each and every single one of the Ten Commandments, that gays are discriminatory bullies who hate American democracy, that climate change science is a conspiracy against poor people, and that President Obama wants communists to control America’s children.

And speaking of the ten commandments, as anyone who has ever driven through the Flathead knows, one of the Ten Commandments is “Though shall not bear false witness.” But this very God fearing TEA Partier seems to have a problem with the truth when it comes to her affiliation with the TEA party. Shellnut claims to have no affiliation with the TEA Party, you see.

Shellnut TEA Party 1   photo 2 copyYet she was eager enough to affiliate with them when it came time to appear as a speaker about preserving “our” legacies at their gatherings–and to be endorsed by them on various TEA Party Facebook pages, as you can see from the screenshots below. When November comes around, Montana voters should tell Shellnut to keep her hypocrisy–and her backwards views on women, LGBT Montanans, health care, science, and education to herself.  They don’t belong in Montana law. tea party shellnut 2 TEA party 1 shellnut shellnut tea 3