Posted: November 6, 2014 at 9:51 pm by Cowgirl

For the Record: New GOP Legislator Has a Record for Assaulting a Minor

If you google new Republican legislator Gilbert Bruce Meyers (R-Box Elder) some disturbing information comes up.

The GOP legislator was convicted of assault on a minor for abusing his own children, which is a felony, and sentenced to four years in prison. Meyers appears on the Correctional Offender website known as Conweb.  You can see his profile here. 

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Meyers’ sentence included that he was not allowed to live in Broadwater County, where his children lived, because they were afraid of him and afraid to ride their bikes around the small town they lived in for fear of running into him or that he would find them on their way to and from school.

Convicted child abuser Gilbert Bruce Meyers with Steve Daines

Convicted child abuser Gilbert Bruce Meyers with Steve Daines

For some reason, there is no mention of this public information in today’s Havre Daily News puff piece on the new Republican legislator, nor could I find evidence that they reported the information when voters needed it – before the election.

It’s unfortunate that the Democratic party did not inform voters of Meyers’ criminal background during the campaign.  Meyers challenged Rep. Clarena Brockie (D-Harlem) who has served the district well for the past two years and is the dean of student affairs at Aaniiih Nakoda College.

Convicted child abuser and GOP legislator Gilbert Bruce Meyers (center) with fellow GOP legislator Kris Hansen (right)

Convicted child abuser and GOP legislator Gilbert Bruce Meyers (center) with fellow GOP legislator Kris Hansen (right) and new legislator Rep. Stephanie Hess, also of Havre.  This is the party of family values. 

Meyers was appointed director of Indian Affairs under former Republican Governor Judy Martz, but resigned suddenly after only a few months on the job “for personal and family reasons.”  Martz earned national derision herself for saying at a public speaking even that her husband never beat her but “then again she never gave him a reason to.”

Convicted child abuser and Republican legislator Gilbert Bruce Meyers with Ryan Zinke

Convicted child abuser and Republican legislator Gilbert Bruce Meyers with Ryan Zinke

Convicted child abuser Gilbert Bruce Meyers and the Hill County GOP with fellow GOP legislator Kris Hansen

Convicted child abuser Gilbert Bruce Meyers and the Hill County GOP with fellow GOP legislator Kris Hansen (R-Havre).  Family values Republicans all.




Posted: November 5, 2014 at 9:28 pm by Cowgirl

Worst Political Ads of 2014

Here’s a treat for everyone in need of a good laugh to get rid of some post-election stress.

The Cowgirl Blog has scoured the web in search of the worst campaign ads of the 2014 cycle.  Here they are.

1. For reasons unknown beyond a cracked noggin, this Iowa candidate for U.S. Senate stops in the middle of his ad, turns to the camera, and says:

“If you’re the socio-path and sexual predator who murdered my sister Lynette, and you come to my front door to do harm to my girls, I’m going to use my Glock to blow your balls off.”

Ignore the dial testing graphics.

2. This newspaper ad, which appeared in the Lewistown News Argus, pretty much sums up the Montana GOP’s world view and campaign strategy:
butcher ad

3. The National College Republicans put out a series of ads like this, since I guess they don’t believe women have been insulted enough yet.

4. This ad, produced by an (unsuccessful) Republican candidate for the Mississippi state house named Chris McDaniel, features a series of non sequiturs.  It starts with a Lincoln impersonation voice-over, then some very bad actors engage in a forced promotion of some nutjob’s book, then someone says they “had a dream about that.” Then some very strange singers sing a very strange song.

5. This ad by Arkansas Republican Tom Cotton commits one of the biggest sins in PR – using your own air time to spread your opponents attacks on you.  Then there’s an awkward part where he says his opponent says he hates puppies, then admits that it actually did take him a while to like his girlfriend’s puppy, then he tries to say he was “just joking.” And that’s the entire ad.

Posted: November 5, 2014 at 8:08 am by Cowgirl

Election Analysis

Now that it’s all over but the shoutin’, Democrats should feel okay about last night’s results. The one big, competitive and crucial race that mattered most, we won big. Mike Wheat destroyed Lawrence VanDyke to retain his supreme court seat.

Despite all of our pre-election optimism, no polling prior to the election at any point, ever indicated that the two federal races were winnable. They showed consistent double-digit leads for the Republicans. This speaks to the courage and backbone of the candidates and staffers who took on Daines and Zinke- we can be proud of them all.

Daines and Zinke ran smart races (not the intellectual content, but the strategy) and did what they needed to do. Amanda Curtis and John Lewis ran into an anti-Obama buzzsaw, and there was little they could do at all to scale the cliff that lay before them. Candidates of a lesser caliber would have fared much worse. Both have very bright political futures.
And for anyone who thinks John Walsh would have fared any better had his plagiarism not been uncovered–he might have put up better numbers but he still would have been beaten and probably pretty badly. Realize that Obama in Montana has lower numbers than he did in any of the other states in which important senate races were lost. This was not a night for a Montana democrat to win a ticket to Washington DC.
I was shocked at how badly Wheat beat VanDyke, but it goes to show you that Montana voters have a good nose and can sniff things out, and smell when something is not right.

We lost some good men and women last night: Franke Wilmer and Greg Jergeson, incumbents who lost state senate races will be missed. these were targeted Senate races that ended up not even being close. Jergeson eschewed help from the party, refusing to allow canvassers to go door-to-door, and this was a mistake that we can learn from and apply to future races. Wilmer struggled likely because Bozeman is Daines country and he got his people out. Ultimately, however, the tide was simply too strong against us to make more than small gains, much like in 2010.


In the state house, however, Dems picked up two seats, and the senate remains the same as last session. This is a small victory which deserves a big celebration in this climate.  It also means a net gain of one additional pro-Medicaid expansion vote in the house.


Also two big Helena races went our way. Mary-Anne Dunwell beat Steve Gibson and Moffie Funk beat Liz Bangerter, both rep seats. Bangerter is an angry right-winger who now understands that Helenans have no tolerance for posturing.
Two close shaves, by the way in Missoula. Diane Sands, of Missoula, was in the fight of her life last night in what had been thought to be a safe seat. It looks like she will win by a dozen or so votes. And Gary Marbut, the NRA lunatic, barely lost by a handful of votes, but again in a seat that was supposed to be safe. I think we can all cheer the fact that RWNJ Gerry O’Neil is no longer a member of Montana’s lawmaking body, thanks to Zac Perry.


Another major victory is the defeat of the Teapublican ballot measure to restrict voting rights. It lost big, and rightly so.
One dark spot last night, not of Obama’s making, is in Big Horn County- home of the Crow Reservation, where Daines and Curtis battled to a draw. That’s a serious problem for Democrats and we need to repair it. We also need to be mindful of the number of TEA party candidates who are directly in the pocket of the Montana Family Foundation- notorious anti education but jobs. They elected another of their lobbyists Debra Lamm, but thankfully Tonya Shellnut lost to Mary McNally.

Posted: November 5, 2014 at 7:49 am by Cowgirl

Montana Legislature Looks Similar to 2013, Dems Make Small Gains

During the 2013 session the House had 61 Republican and 39 Democratic members, and the Senate had 29 Republican and and 21 Democratic members.

As of my bleary morning preliminary count, it looks like the House is 59 R and 41 D and the Senate is 29 R, 21 D.

Lots of very close races, some could be headed to recount.  I’ll have more later, and will recheck these numbers but for now I must say:


(And many others – Zac Perry, Mary McNally, Janet Ellis, Virginia Court, Moffie Funk, Kim Dudik, Chris Pope, Casey Schreiner- full analysis later today.)

So proud of you!


Posted: November 4, 2014 at 10:11 pm by Cowgirl

AP Calls Supreme Court Race for Wheat, Rice

Mike Wheat and Jim Rice will both retain their seats on the Montana Supreme Court.  This is spite of a massive amount of out-of-state dark money and some really subpar fake voter guides that we were supposed to believe were a “research experiment” on us.

Congratulations to both justices and to the members of their campaign staff – and to the hundreds of Montanans across the state who made this happen.

KECI has more here, including for some reason, a bio paragraph on VanDyke but not on Wheat, who was the winner, making the piece somewhat reminiscent of an obituary.

If you don’t know who Mike Wheat is yet, here’s what you need to know.

Wheat served in the Marine Corps as a combat soldier in Vietnam in 1968-69, for which he was awarded a Purple Heart.

He earned a BA in political science from the University of Montana and my law degree from the University of Montana Law School.  He then served as a criminal prosecutor, built a successful law practice and am honored to have served two sessions in the Montana State Senate.   He has practiced law in MT for 36 years.

Wheat and his wife of 40 years, Debby, have three sons.



Posted: November 4, 2014 at 8:04 am by Cowgirl

Happy Election Day – Go Vote

Some helpful sources of information for today:

1.  If you want to know where you are registered to vote, the location of and directions to your polling place, the status of your absentee ballot, or to see a sample ballot you can do so on Secretary of State Linda McCulloch’s website: 

2.  If you want to make sure that the candidate you’re voting for is pro-choice, go to the NARAL Pro-Choice Montana Voter Guide.

3, Election results will be posted on the Secretary of State’s website after 8pm tonight:

4.  Flathead Memo will be live-blogging election results tonight here-

5. Election Day Celebrations:

Amanda Curtis in Butte
(Jon Tester will be there from 3:30pm – 5:00pm) 
100 East Broadway

John Lewis in Helena
(Jon Tester will be there from 6:30-8:00pm)
995 Carousel Way

Gallatin County Dems
8 PM – 11 PM
Wild Joe’s Coffee House, 18 W. Main Street, Bozeman

Forward Montana/MontPIRG in Missoula
Flathead Lake Brewing Company of Missoula
424 North Higgins Ave (Next to Charlie B’s)

Great Falls election Watch Party
Dark Horse Hall at the Celtic Cowboy,
116 1st Ave South at 7:00 pm.

Yellowstone County Democrats Election Night Party
404 Houle Dr., Billings

If you know of others send them my way or post them in the comments!

Please consider this post an election day open thread.


Posted: November 3, 2014 at 8:34 pm by Cowgirl

UPDATE: Stanford and Dartmouth Caught Copying Each Other’s Mailergate Letters, Also Stanford Misspells Name of MT Senator

A disturbing new development in the mailergate scandal this week.

As Cowgirl readers will recall, Sen. Tester wrote a scathing letter criticizing the unethical and potentially illegal acts committed by professors employed by these schools. Sen. Tester had given the schools a deadline to respond (which you can read here).

UPDATE: It turns out that Stanford met that deadline with their response letter, but Dartmouth did not.  Not the other way around as I had earlier been told.  (To be fair, it is not known at this point if someone’s dog may have eaten the Dartmouth response.)

Then when Dartmouth finally did respond they essentially copied the (somewhat patronizing) Stanford letter word-for-word in many passages.  Or perhaps they both decided to compare notes. Stanford couldn’t even be bothered to spell Sen. Jon Tester’s name correctly.

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Here is a handy color-coded guide to identifying the identical passages:

Pink text. Passages taken verbatim.

Yellow text. Passages taken virtually verbatim.

For example here’s Dartmouth’s opening paragraph from its letter:

“On behalf of Dartmouth College, I sincerely apologize for the confusion and concern caused by the voter participation research study independently undertaken by Dartmouth and Stanford political scientists referenced in your letter dated October 24. As you know, Montana officials have begun an inquiry in response to a complaint that was filed with the Montana Commissioner of Political Practices with which we are fully cooperating.”

And here is Stanford’s:

“On behalf of Stanford University, I sincerely apologize for the confusion and concern caused by the voter participation research study independently undertaken by Stanford faculty members in partnership with their colleagues at Dartmouth College. As you know, Montana officials have begun an inquiry in response to a complaint that was filed with the Montana Commissioner of Political Practices. We are fully cooperating with that inquiry.”

The entire letter is like this.

This obviously speaks volumes about how seriously they are taking this.

If anything, Stanford should be taking the matter more seriously than Dartmouth, since they contributed $100,000 worth of resources (over 1/3) of the project, although they claim none of this has been spent.   The school’s response to the press so far has been to emphasize the Hewlett Foundation’s funding for this disaster and to de-emphasize their own contribution.

Montanans still need to know who approved the expenditure of $100k on a project that included these fake mailers – why Stanford released the funds without requiring the project to undergo any review.  Do they just give $100,000 to anyone, without review, no questions asked?

If that’s the case, I encourage them to send $100,000 my way for a very important blogging project I’m working on. Once I become a blogging billionaire, I promise to give the members of the Stanford endowment board a $5 annual discount on a subscription to this important news publication.

UPDATE: Stanford has contacted the Cowgirl blog to ask that I tell you that:

The mailer sent by Dartmouth and Stanford faculty members to Montana voters the week of Oct. 22 cost a total of $38,000. Those funds were entirely from an unrestricted grant from the Hewlett Foundation. 

As is pointed out in the comments to this post,

Buried in the fine print (on Stanford’s website on mailergate):

“The project was funded by an unrestricted grant from the nonprofit William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. The $250,000 grant was for the researchers to study issues including electoral geography, political polarization, redistricting and other topics. Of that, about $34,000 was used for the study involving Montana elections. The Hewlett Foundation had no control over the study and did not review the mailers. Stanford University also committed $100,000 in matching funds for the work of the researchers’ lab, the Spatial Social Science Lab, though none of this money has been spent yet. ”


Posted: November 3, 2014 at 6:42 pm by Cowgirl

GOP Candidate Lobbied AGAINST Violence Against Women Act

Today I learned that a TEA Party candidate for legislature in the Billings area named Tonya Shellnut actually lobbied against the Violence Against Women Act and even penned an op-ed against the act that was published in the Daily Inter Lake.

The act was not controversial – it essentially reauthorized the federal laws that have been on the books for two decades that hold rapists and abusers accountable for their crimes and helped women start new lives.  

The main change was that it was expanded to include Indians and other women who were originally left out.  But Shellnut tried to claim that including all women in the new law was a bad thing.  It doesn’t get much worse that that.

And hard data exists to show the law is effective and has actually been a resounding success.  Since the original law was passed 20 years ago, domestic violence has gone down 67% and murders of women by intimate partners have dropped 35%.

Perhaps just as sickening as Shellnut’s actions is that she is backed by a group that calls itself the Montana Family Foundation.

Today marks that 100 year anniversary of the date women secured the right to vote.  Let’s make sure we all do and vote to keep people like this out of the state legislature.

Posted: November 2, 2014 at 3:13 pm by Cowgirl

GUEST POST: Support More Participation in Ballot Measures and Elections

by KC York

KC York is the chair of Trap Free Montana Public Lands.  To find out more about the good work this organization does, go to

We were recently interviewed by the League of Women Voters as they began looking into the initiative process and what is working and what isn’t especially given no initiatives qualified for the Montana November 2014 ballot. We do not know if this has happened before.

Anyone ever gathering signatures for an initiative can testify how difficult it is. Of the Montana ballot initiatives, we, at Trap Free Montana Public Lands, were informed we obtained the largest number of acceptable signatures. By far the number one reason  for our signature rejections was the signer was not a registered voter.  It is unclear if the signer did not know they had to be a Montana registered voter or that they thought they were.

In our large sparsely populated state, signature gatherers rely on well attended events to try and obtain the 24,175 signatures and qualify 34 legislative house districts as is required. The primary elections are a prime example. However, poor voter turnout and increasing absentee voting left all of us gathering far less signatures than we had hoped and than what was needed. Signature gatherers are not permitted to interfere in the voting process at the polls and signers are encouraged to vote first and then sign. Without same day voter registration, this would not have been possible for unregistered to do either.

No matter which side of the political atmosphere people align with, many voice a feeling of not being heard, not being represented and that the will of the people is being ignored.  Ballot initiatives put that power back into the hands of the people facilitating all to vote for or against a proposal. If citizen driven ballot initiatives are not embraced, not supported, if signature gatherers are stowed  away at primary elections from the voters, if they are denied legal public access, if authorities do not enforce laws to protect signature gatherers, if people are too busy or uninterested to sign, and if signature gatherers, their supporters, and businesses  are targeted, bullied, harassed or fear retaliation, all Montanans and the basic principle of democracy is hurt. Not being able to get a measure on the ballot does not equate to the measure not warranting public vote. We don’t need legislation that hinders the power of citizens such as LR-126, eliminating same day voter registration. We need avenues to reach the voters and empower the public to be able to make educated decisions.




Posted: October 31, 2014 at 5:33 pm by Cowgirl

CrowdPAC’s Mailergate Denial is Laughable

Today, the silicon valley start-up company founded by mailergate professor Adam Bonica tried to distance itself from the scandal.

This after Standford University said it has launched an investigation into the connection between the Adam Bonica’s silicon valley start-up CrowdPAC and the fake voter guides Bonica sent to 100,000 Montana voters.

As Talking Points Memo reported this morning, Adam Bonica refused to respond to reporter questions.  Instead, Bonica’s cofounder Steve Hilton tried to claim that CrowdPAC (which Bonica and Hilton launched last month) had no knowledge of the fake voter guides sent to 100,000 Montanans last week–until they read about it in the news.

This is simply laughable.

Bonica is CrowdPAC.  He is the co-founder and chief scientist–and probably the only person who really understands his DIME model on which the whole company is based. He also probably owns at least 20-25% of the company.  There is no CrowdPAC without Bonica any more than there would be a Google without Page and Brin.

So since Bonica sent out the mailers, and Bonica is CrowdPAC, yeah, CrowdPAC knows about them.

Here’s why this matters.

Bonica and Hilton are highly motivated to show the efficacy of the DIME model (that donations predict candidate ideology) now,  in this election cycle, because the next big election is in 2016.  He’s got maybe $2 million in venture capital investments that aren’t going to last that long.   For one thing, CrowdPAC already probably has 3-6 employees–and has five open job announcements for engineers/scientists with an average salary of around $100k.

Start-ups, I’m told, typically get a little seed money and then take 18 months or so to show their concept is monetizable.  Then they use the proof it can make money raise more from investors.

Because Bonica is the brains of CrowdPAC, he has to show–in this election cycle–that it his concept (1) works in the field and (2) can make money or his company won’t go forward. And the lynchpin to monetizing this company/concept is to prove it can impact elections.  Otherwise its just another online academic portal that only political scientists would use rather than a start-up that is commercially viable and worthy of further investment.

When I look at mailergate through this scenario, the experiments don’t appear to be shoddy– they look like they were designed to manipulate the election.  They would need to mask the academic nature of the mailing (which some have called a “mistake”) and to stoke partisan tensions in favor of one candidate or another (which some have called “unintentional”).

This would show why these guys probably thought they’d found the perfect lab rats in Montana.  Montana’s non partisan judicial race was probably one of the easiest to cheaply make partisan with the DIME model in the U.S.

We were likely chosen is the sacrificial guinea pigs for these reasons:

1.  We have a very polarized electorate.

2.  We’ll have high turnout for an off-cycle (non-presidential) election year.

3. We have a low population, meaning we’re seen as a cheap date for this kind of manipulation.

And manipulation it was.  As one of Bonica’s own senior colleagues at Stanford said:

“This is researchers manipulating, or at least seeking to manipulate, politics,” Mr. Krosnick said, referring to the Dartmouth-Stanford experiment. “As appealing as this might be on scientific grounds, the real question is whether it’s appropriate to interfere in this way.”

And these same researchers have manipulated people before:

Mr. Krosnick pointed to a previous study co-authored by Mr. Dropp, who is an assistant professor of government at Dartmouth, in which more than 1,000 email requests were sent to Texas legislators in 2010. The emails appeared to come from Texas citizens, but were actually sent by the researchers to measure the legislators’ response rates.

“It crosses an ethical line to create fictitious people and use government resources for people who don’t exist,” Mr. Krosnick said. “There’s a habit here of lying to people.”

Montanans are sick of being lied to.

We also need to know more about the Hewlett Foundation’s investment in this experiment.

We know that Hewlett Foundation was aware of CrowdPAC, because they posted on their own website here that they were considering making an investment in the start-up. However, they instead decided to invest in non-profit organizations, which CrowdPAC is not.

However, since CrowdPAC essentially benefited from Hewlett funding anyway, what does that say about how for-profit start-ups are able to game the system to make big bucks?