Tag Archives: Americans for Prosperity

The TEA Party Revolving Door is in Full Swing in Montana

man-leaving-revolving-doorWhen top campaign staff and senior congressional staffers swing in and out of the TEA Party front groups working to influence elections and congressional votes, so do inside information, strategic decisions, money and special access for the TEA Party.

Some call it a form of corruption.  Whatever you call it, the revolving door often leads to TEA Partiers and members of congress working in their own self-interest, rather than that of the people of Montana.

Here are three recent developments you need to be aware of related to the TEA Party’s revolving door in Montana.

First, the Billings Gazette has reported that Zacharay Lahn has switched from his position as Steve Daines’ State director to being the state director for Americans for Prosperity, which is bankrolled by the Koch brothers, as has been often reported.

Lahn, who was also Steve Daines’ campaign manager in 2012, replaces TEA Party state senator Joe Balyeat in the position.  Balyeat was demoted to State Policy Director for Americans for Prosperity.

Meanwhile over at the Montana Policy Institute, which had gone dark after losing some major funding sources, a man named Brent Mead was hired as director to fire the right-wing “think” tank back up again.  Mead swings in from his former position as policy director for the Montana Growth network, as is noted on the also-Koch brother’s funded Americans for Tax Reform’s website.

The Montana Growth Network, as you will recall, is embattled state Sen. Jason Priest’s group which funneled hundreds of thousands of dollars into campaigns to buy a supreme court seat for TEA Partier Laurie McKinnon. The group was also revealed to be behind a barrage attack mailers poured into moderate GOP legislative districts to stop the moderates from supporting the Medicaid expansion. Most recently, some of the group’s board members tried to distance themselves from that organization after it was revealed that 70% of the Montana Growth Networks funds came from only five people.  The Montana Policy Network also has ties to ALEC and is also funded by the Kochs.

The third interesting development is that the former head of American Majority in Montana is now working for the Ryan Zinke campaign.  American Majority in Montana is the state chapter of national TEA party group out of Virginia called American Majority.    As the Bozeman Chronicle reported, American Majority gets 70% of its funding from a Koch brother’s funded group.

Jeremy Carpenter was the group’s leader.  He said publicly that the group’s goal is to build up the TEA Party base by teaching people how to be candidates and put tea partiers in offices up and down the ballot from school board to statewide and federal races–doing field work for the TEA Party. Now he’s working for the Zinke campaign as a field director.

All of these groups will be working to influence elections in Montana, and perhaps most frighteningly legislative campaigns. Whether through get out the vote efforts, thinly disguised “issue ads”–attack mailers that read “tell said democrat that kids and puppies don’t deserve to be murdered” mailed out right before ballots, and by organizing right-wing campus groups to train volunteers for campaigns.


The Montana GOP Hypocrite of the Week Award Goes to…

…Henry Kriegel of Bozeman.  For leading a bunch which calls itself “Americans for Prosperity” while pushing policies reminiscent of a North Korean prison camp, Henry Kriegel is this week’s winner. Many happy returns of the day.

Kriegel demands in the Great Falls Tribune that the U.S. government let kids go hungry.  To back up his argument, Kriegel turns to some of the most laughable junk science this state has seen in decades, writing:

More than 47 million Americans are now on food stamps — a 70 percent increase during Obama’s first term. It is also rife with abuse. Former Montana state Rep. Tom Burnett has analyzed the misuse of food stamp funds. Burnett claims that $16 billion of the $80 billion spent annually on the food stamp program is used by recipients to buy sweetened beverages alone — items like Sobe, Gatorade and Red Bull — not the staples of meat, vegetables and slow carbs.

Burnett, a former state lawmaker, is no scientist nor research analyst.  He’s a TEA Party crackpot obsessed with cutting food for hungry kids in need.  His self-styled “report,”Hunger in America: The Myth, [word doc] reads like it came straight out of a North Korean propaganda ministry.  It calls for an end to food assistance programs and offers such advice to needy parents as “No whining,” ‘Gather wild berries,’ and in a moment of unintended irony, advises that not being hungry “kills.”

The “information” that Kriegel sites is from Burnett’s blog.  Burnett supposedly compiled this himself by wandering around asking a gas station clerk or two “Do people buy x junk food item with food stamps?” with that wild look in his eyes.  The busy clerks were probably quite eager to get the strange personage out of their store so they could get back to work.

Using logic Kim Il-Sung would have been proud of, Burnett writes that hunger doesn’t exist because he hasn’t seen it:

No advocates parade a line of emaciated children at any school or playground. They just can’t be found.

But that’s not the only reason Representative Burnett has come to the conclusion that no one is really going hungry.  He also bases his case on pictures of fat people he found on the Internet, which he actually includes in his article as “evidence.”

Burnett believes that  kids should be “self-reliant.” If they don’t have enough to eat, they should learn to scavenge and glean food from the garbage to survive. That’s exactly how things work in North Korea, where citizens are forced to scavenge for rats to eat, and chip their own frozen feces out of toilets to use for fertilizer to grow their own food.  (Talk about self-reliance.) Kids in that country are so malnourished that many suffer from stunted growth and serious intellectual disabilities for life.

In fact, as Blaine Hardin wrote of the situation in North Korea, because of what is known as the “eating problem” there, severe malnutrition has caused severe problems. One quarter of those who apply to join the military in North Korea are disqualified for intellectual disabilities – think what that does to  a country’s prospects for prosperity.

And so Mr. Kriegel, sergeant of the TEA Party junk-science spin squad, we salute you as the Montana GOP Hypocrite of the Week.  When you are finished trying to stop hungry kids from getting something to eat, maybe you can write an article about the qualifications, scientific standards, and academic research principles employed by Tom Burnett that would pass muster in a high school classroom.  It wouldn’t take very long to write.  It would be blank.

TEA Party Fact Check

Annie BukacekMontana right-wingers are continuing to offer their “solutions” to the Newtown shooting, but those solutions aren’t getting any more credible.

The latest to offer her views is Annie Bukacek.  Bukacek [pronounced BOO’-kuh-check] uses a discredited study to argue on the TEA Party blog PolyMontana this week that the solution to the Newton tragedy is to get a concealed weapon into the hands of as many people as possible.

“Think about it” writes Bukacek. “A criminal planning to commit murder in a public place has to worry that anyone in the area might have a gun. That’s why most mass shootings occur in “gun-free zones.”

She’s pushing for a change in Montana law to get more concealed weapons on the street. A similar law failed to pass the Bat Crap Crazy session of 2011 and is being brought back from the dead by TEA Party Republican and chair of the House Judiciary Committee Krayton Kerns of Laurel.

Bukacek’s screed cites a study which she claims shows that allowing everyone to carry a concealed weapon without a permit reduces mass shootings.  But the supposed study she cites is a fraud.   It’s author, John Lott has been caught using fraudulent data (and lying about it to cover his tracks) in his concealed-carry studies. In fact, the National Research Council’s Committee to Improve Research Information and Data on Firearm examined the research conducted by John Lott and others on concealed-carry laws and found “no credible evidence that the passage of right-to-carry laws decreases or increases violent crime.”

This isn’t the first time Bukacek has been caught using fraudulent information to make her case. Earlier this year the failed anti-abortion crusader and AFP spokesperson appears to have delivered false testimony before the Montana Legislature. On January 21, 2011, Bukacek testified before the state Senate Public Health Committee in favor of SB-161, a bill to nullify federal health care laws, and cited “statistics from a 2010 Investor’s  Business Daily article based on a survey  by the United Nations International Health Organization.”

The article and study she cited then do not even exist, actually, nor does the organization she cites.  In fact, this non-existent study is one that right wing activists have been citing across America, in hearings, in articles, on websites.  It’s become an internet meme.  But it’s a big canard, according to the Center for Public Integrity.    There is neither a study nor even a group called the United Nations International Health Organization.

Sadly, Ms. Bukacek is a licensed physician in the state of Montana, albeit with a religious twist–her clinic, which closed down, was called “Hosanna Healthcare.”  She was also investigated for Medicaid fraud, but she claims it was because she prayed with patients.

Bukacek will no doubt be back in the capitol building this session peddling her unique brand of misinformation and conspiracy theories to the right wing of the GOP. This year, however, they won’t have an excuse to buy it.

GOP Launches Job Creation Plan

Today, the Montana GOP laid out its plan to bring more high-paying jobs to Montana.

TEA Party Republican state Rep. Clayton Fiscus (R-Billings) is proposing a bill that would require the teaching of intelligent design alongside evolution in all Montana schools.

The Huffington Post and the National Center for Science Education reported this week that ridding our schools of science is Fiscus’ first orders of business.   (If his website is any indication, ridding our schools of technology might be next.)

As the NCSE points out, this brilliant plan has already been declared unconstitutional in Kitzmiller v. Dover, in 2005.

The last time a creationist bill was tried in Montana was in 2001, when Joe Balyeat, now with Americans for Prosperity, introduced it.  This latest effort reaffirms the GOP’s position as the anti-science party.


Credibility Problems Plague TEA Party

Montana’s top opponent of the women’s medical privacy and the Affordable Healthcare Act, Tea Partier Annie Bukacek, appears to have delivered false testimony before the Montana Legislature.

On January 21, 2011, Bukacek testified before the state Senate Public Health Committee in favor of SB-161, a bill to nullify federal health care laws, and cited “statistics from a 2010 Investor’s  Business Daily article based on a survey  by the United Nations International Health Organization.”  She then read a list of statistics that supposedly indicate how people in countries with universal health care are dying at a greater rate than Americans.  Here’s a copy of her written testimony, and here’s a video clip.

The supposed study she cites is a fraud. It does not even exist, actually, nor does the organization she cites.  In fact, this non-existent study is one that right wing activists have been citing across America, in hearings, in articles, on websites.  It’s become an internet meme.  But it’s a big canard, according to the Center for Public Integrity.  There is neither a study nor even a group called the UNIHO.

Sadly, Ms. Bukacek is a licensed physician in the state of Montana, albeit with a religious twist–her clinic, which closed down, was called “Hosanna Healthcare.”  She was also investigated for Medicaid fraud, but she claims it was because she prayed with patients.

She also penned a guest editorial in the June 14 edition of the Flathead Daily Interlake (see page 4 of this PDF) extolling the dangers of vaccination, a favorite topic among black helicopter conspiracy theorists.

Ms. Bukacek’s anti-vaccination claims prompted a rebuke from a far right Republican who sits on the Flathead City-County Health Board, Dr. P. David Myerowitz, who moved to Columbia Falls after retiring from a professorship in surgery at a major university in Ohio.   Dr. Myerowitz called Bukacek’s assertions “disturbing,” as well as “misguided, inaccurate and dangerous.” (You can download a PDF of his response here, see page 8.)

In general, you ascribe very little credibility to any data offered up by the Tea Party. It’s usually nonsense.

Cowgirl Finishes Her Sophomore Year

In July, the Cowgirl Blog turned two.

And, the blog is on the verge of receiving our one millionth viewer.  Montana Cowgirl has been featured on CNN, and in the Washington Post, Huffington Post, Mother Jones, and numerous Montana press outlets, much of it in the course of exposing the 2011 Republican legislature for the lunatics that they were (are).

But far more flattering is this: at a recent Washington, DC “summit” of the Americans for Prosperity Foundation group (the Koch brothers’ outfit of angry right-wing misfits), there was a panel at which I am told my blog was the main topic of discussion.  Who is this person, they asked. How does she do her research? What dark arts must she know?

It is truly hilarious that these dingbats believe my blog to consist of some sort of magic.  They view it with a sense of awe and bewilderment, like when Tarzan watched in amazement when he first saw the British artistocrat shave his face with a strait razor.  To the Tea Party set, this blog is an item of technological wonder, believed to emanate from some advanced, alien civilization.

A few pieces of advice for the panel participants. First, if you are literate, you can start a blog.  It costs almost nothing and can be done for free.  Second, if you know how to surf the web, conduct google searches, read a Facebook page and receive reader tips by e-mail, you can do all of the things that this blog does.  (Thank you readers! Your tips make up the most important content on this blog. Send tips to mntnacowgirl (at) gmail.com) True, this sets a high bar for an organization (AFP) whose Montana leaders are Joe Balyeat and Henry Kriegel. But it’s incomprehensible that there is such a dearth of credible GOP blogging in this state. The relative absence of conservative blogging (compared to all the really great Montana progressive blogs you see among those on the blog roll here to the right of this post) speaks volumes about the right wing.

As to the occasional remark made that this blog “lacks courage” because it is penned anonymously, these critics do not understand that anonymous writing is a crucial component of political discourse and has always been so.  Among other examples, Thomas Paine’s Common Sense, a 1776 work that set forth the basic principles on which the American Revolution was based,was published anonymously.  I’m sure that Tea Partiers, with their intellectual command of American history, are aware of this.

Rehberg’s Truth Tour Slams Romney, Postal Service, Medicare

Someone just sent me the official handout from the so-called Tester Truth Tour a few days ago, and it’s a trip through crazytown.

Remember the Tester Truth Tour? It involved a handful of Dennis Rehberg’s TEA Party nuts, tinfoil hats, a fancy RV with cartoons of Jon Tester on it, some T-shirts and a whole bunch of wasted paper.  It’s the first project of Joe Balyeat, the legislative dropout who became the new Americans for Prosperity Director. The spendy Tour was billed as a “project” of Americans for Prosperity, the secretive organization run by billionaire TEA Party founders Charles and David Koch.

Apparently, Rehberg’s Americans for Prosperity doesn’t think much of Mitt Romney and his record of health care in “Massachutts” [sic].


Before we go on, let’s remember that Dennis Rehberg has already endorsed Romney.  I wonder how that sits with Rehberg’s Americans for Prosperity?

And check out what Rehberg’s truth brigade thinks of Medicare, Social Security, and even the Postal Service:

Failed Programs

No wonder Dennis Rehberg voted to force cuts to Medicare and cut service at Montana Post offices.  At least his people tried a little harder to spell Massachusetts.   The entire program can be downloaded here.

A Wingnut and Prayer

TEA Party Republican Joe Balyeat

Joe Balyeat has resigned from the Bat Crap Crazy Legislature to become the new leader of the Montana TEA Party. The Washington D.C. TEA Party booster club Americans for Prosperity has struggled with keeping and finding leaders since it started meddling in Montana politics in 2009.  Now, the group has quietly instated its fourth new leader in less than three years. Henry Kriegel, Jake Eaton, and  Scott Sales, have all come and gone,  making the organization less about pretending that the TEA Party is a grassroots phenomena and more of a contest to see who can be America’s Next Top Crackpot.  So Joe Balyeat it is.

Balyeat’s first acts as the new TEA Party leader include sending out a robo-call on behalf of TEA Party Dennis Rehberg, which can be heard here.  A leaked photo of Balyeat’s remodel of the TEA Party offices can be seen below. (Don’t tell anyone where you got this, I don’t want AFP to know I have a tipster on the inside.)

Montana Cowgirl Blog readers know Joe Balyeat well.  For some reason, however, the TEA Party’s official biography of Balyeat does not mention that he’s the author of “Babylon: The Great City of Revelation,” (from $7.95 used on Amazon.com) which attempts to make the teabaggers’ case that if Christians don’t get involved in politics, “not only will hell prevail against us, but abortionists and homosexuals and humanists and pornographers and tin-horn TV networks will as well.”
A leaked photo of Joe Balyeat's first work as Americans for Prosperity director

Shortly after Balyeat’s world class work of non-fiction was published, Balyeat became vice-president of the Christian Coalition of Montana.  This was the group that fought to uphold Montana’s unconstitutional law that actually made it illegal to be gay in our state.  When a Montana court struck down the law making it illegal to be gay in the 1990s, the Christian Coalition was outraged, saying that the law making gay people illegal was “a necessary health and safety statute.”  Balyeat is also known for introducing a bill to require creationism to be taught in schools.  His bill failed in committee even though Republicans controlled the legislature by a wide margin.

Balyeat’s TEA Party bio doesn’t mention Balyeat’s attempts to declare war on Montana voters with a myriad of failed and legally flawed ballot initiatives.  In 2006, Balyeat was behind the infamous ballot initiative scandal in which three initiatives were stricken from the ballot after a judge cited “pervasive fraud in the signature gathering process.” (CI-97 would have arbitrarily limited state spending, CI98 allowed for recalling judges for any old reason, and I-154 would have made governments pay corporations if they passed consumer health and safety laws which the big wigs claimed limited their profits.)  This year, the courts rejected two more of Balyeat’s ballot measures: to restrict the ability of every Montanan to vote in all Supreme Court justice races and to gut the Montana budget with a tax give-away to big corporations.

Anyway, it seems Balyeat’s former pursuits weren’t wacky enough so he went looking for another fringe cause.   He definitely found it in Americans for Prosperity.

Nutjobs Only Need Apply

The Montana Republican Party Executive Director, Bowen Greenwood, this week is calling out a fellow Republican legislative candidate for not being a nutjob and accusing him of being a dastardly RINO.

Greenwood made the unusual move of taking sides in a legislative primary the Koch brothers’ former State Director Scott Sales, attacking Sales’ primary opponent in the Bozeman area race. Remember that the Koch brothers gave Greenwood’s predecessor, Jake Eaton, a job after he was forced to leave the Montana GOP in disgrace over his involvement in a Republican voter suppression scheme.  Maybe Greenwood is just trying to keep is future options open.

What makes Sales a real Republican, besides his love of Koch, is first his unabashed ability to attribute fake quotes to Abraham Lincoln. This is important, because Lincoln is the one of the only decent Republicans out there.  He didn’t say a lot of nutjob nonsense. So, it must be fabricated so that people think the GOP has always been this way.

Anyway, on the first day of the session before last, Scott Sales (R-Bozeman), as the House  Minority Leader was looking to set a right winger tone to the session.  Sales read a series of quotes that he attributed to former President Abraham Lincoln. A newspaper reporter looked into those quotes and found that Lincoln never said them.  Sales was forced to apologize on the House Floor, saying he’d been “duped” because he got his information from the internets.

Sales also proved his real Republican-ness when he declared the session was going to be a “war”.  He appointed a nutjob, a Constitution Party member, head of the education committee.  And he’s been palling around with the Tea Party, ranting about how the Government should “live within its means, like the vast majority of families do” ever since.  Well, not his own family, apparently.

So at least the Montana Republican Party has finally put it out in the open: Nutjobs only need apply.

Koch Brothers Caught Bankrolling Iran…and Dennis Rehberg

The Koch Brothers—best known for using their billions to launch the TEA Party—are all over the news again this week.

In case you missed it, Koch Industries reportedly sold millions of dollars’ worth of equipment to Iran.  Yes, Iran.  The nation we officially consider a global sponsor of terrorism.

So what’s wrong with making a few bucks off of a state sponsor of terrorism?  Nothing really, if you’re a Big Oil billionaire.  All you have to do is ignore some rules, like the one that bans U.S. companies from trading with Iran in the name of national security.

Where are all the ticked off TEA Party Patriots now?  Too busy shrugging?

So is Montana’s only member of the congressional TEA Party Caucus.  After all, Dennis Rehberg has accepted $8,500 in campaign donations from Koch Industries.  And he has supported the agenda of Americans for Prosperity, the Koch Brothers’ secretive political organization, 90 percent of the time.

Dennis Rehberg’s ties to the Koch Brothers doesn’t end there.  According to public records, Rehberg has paid $22,000 to the consulting firm 47 North Communications for “campaign management fees” so far this cycle.

47 North Communications is run by Rehberg’s former state director (and Rehberg boat “accident” survivor) Dustin Frost, and Jake Eaton.

If you’re like most people and tend to forget Jake Eaton, you probably won’t remember that way back in 2009, he used to work for a whacko anti health reform group called “Patients First,” which was bankrolled by… you guessed it… Americans for Prosperity.

Now Dennis Rehberg and others associated with the Koch Brothers and Americans for Prosperity can also call themselves “Americans for Iran’s Prosperity.”

Tsk Tsk.