Tag Archives: Bob Wagner

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.

Cowgirl Blog Primary Election Predictions

Here are my predictions for the most important races in the primary, the state legislative races.

While some bloggers have chosen to focus on the races that Lee Newspapers once deemed important, the real question on everyone’s mind is who will prevail tomorrow night- the TEA Party extremists or the main street republicans. Nowhere is this battle for the GOP hotter than where incumbents face challengers – from the left and from the right.

These are among the key bellwether races to watch tomorrow night.

Certainly I’ll also be watching what happens with the TEA Party’s fake Trojan horse dems, and what happens in primaries with MT Family Foundation recruits like Debra Lamm in Livingston, Marissa Stockton in East Helena, and Ronalee Skees vs. Frank Garner is the Flathead. The Flathead has several interesting legislative races to watch actually.

The Missoula County Sheriff’s race, where two fake democrats are running against T.J. McDermott, is important.  Tim Ravndal is running for County Commissioner in Broadwater County, which is frightening.  Another race to watch for those seeking to take the TEA Party’s pulse is the Gallatin County Commission race, where Don Seifert faces TEA Partier Barb Blum (backed by Roger Koopman).

Let me know if you agree or disagree and what other races you’re watching in the comments.

House   
HD 17 Rep. Christi Clark of Choteau vs. TEA Parter Jim Anderson. Anderson is the TEA Partier who hijacked the Teton County Republican Party’s annual shrimp peel fundraiser for the TEA Party. Local Republicans are not pleased. Prediction: ClarkScreen shot 2014-06-03 at 6.05.58 AM
HD 18 Rep. Rob Cook of Conrad vs. endorsed TEA Partier Ann MorrenPrediction: CookScreen shot 2014-06-03 at 6.05.58 AM
HD 19 Rep. Roger Hagan of Great Falls vs. TEA Partier Randy Pinocci, who is backed by Gary Marbut. Prediction: HaganScreen shot 2014-06-03 at 6.05.58 AM
HD 27 Rep. Roy Hollandsworth of Brady vs. right winger Darrold HutchinsonPrediction: HollandsworthScreen shot 2014-06-03 at 6.05.58 AM
HD 30 Rep. Ryan Osmundson of Buffalo/vs. Right-winger and 86-year-old Jim PaughPrediction: OsmundsonScreen shot 2014-06-03 at 6.05.58 AM
HD 40 Rep. Tom Berry vs. TEA Party winger Ray Gorman. Prediction: BerryScreen shot 2014-06-03 at 6.05.58 AM
HD 53 TEA Party wingut Rep. Sarah Laszloffy, age 20 of Laurel, who attended a school which teaches you how to bring people back from the dead.  No Joke.  TEApublican Rep. Sarah Laszloffy is an alum of the Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry. (She’s also the daughter of MT Family Foundation wackjob Jeff Laszloffy) vs. former long-time legislator Mark Noennig, well respected by the business community. Prediction: Toss-up.  Noennig can win this and voters would be much better represented by him, but papa bear Laszloffy is likely to pull out all the stops to keep his pawn daughter in office.Screen shot 2014-06-03 at 6.05.58 AM
HD 71 In Madison County, Rep. Ray Shaw vs. Birther Bob Wagner, a former Representative infamous for losing economic development for his district and making an ass of himself on national television. Voters already ousted Wagner in favor of Shaw once. Prediction: ShawScreen shot 2014-06-03 at 6.05.58 AM
HD 72 Rep. Jeff Wellborn of Dillan vs. TEA Party college Republican Brooke ErbPrediction: WellbornScreen shot 2014-06-03 at 6.05.58 AM
HD 80 Rep. Mike Miller vs. Patrick Johnson/Ron Vandevendor. Prediction: Miller, since not enough Montanans will have heard of his political practices shennanigans.  Miller is being challenged from the left by Patrick Johnson. If Miller is elected, the primary election won’t actually decided the final outcome, because Miller faces being thrown off the ballot for political practices violations. So does Art Wittich, and so do others.Screen shot 2014-06-03 at 6.05.58 AM
HD 92 David “Doc” Moore of Missoula vs. Larry Dunham Prediction: MooreScreen shot 2014-06-03 at 6.05.58 AM
HD 93 Rep. Dan Salomon of Ronan vs. challenger Frank Delgado. Frank Delgado is a responsible Main Street republican challenging GOPer Salomon from the left in a seat the dems will likely take back in November. Prediction: SalomonScreen shot 2014-06-03 at 6.05.58 AM
HD 99 Rep. Ed Greef of Stevensville faces pro-business, pro-economic development non-nutjob Russ Vogel.  Prediction: GreefScreen shot 2014-06-03 at 6.05.58 AM

 

Senate  
SD 4 Former Kalispell Mayor Tammy Fisher vs. Rep.  Mark Blasdel of Kalispell. The race is hotly contested. Prediction:  Blasdel is an inferior pick and a right-winger and Fisher is a pro-business Republican, but the power of incumbency is strong. Blasdel has raised more money. This is an open seat.  However, Blasdel was an extreme right legislative leader in the house last session, and faces a primary from the more rational wing of the party. Would love to be wrong on this one.Screen shot 2014-06-03 at 6.05.58 AM
SD 9 Sen. Llew Jones/vs. TEA Party tax dodger Joe Large in Toole, Pondera and Glacier Counties. Prediction: JonesScreen shot 2014-06-03 at 6.05.58 AM
SD 14 Anti-education lobbyist Rep. Kris Hansen of Havre is now running for Senate against Carl Mattson of Chester.   Mattson is the superior candidate.  He doesn’t favor using your tax dollars to subsidize private sectarian schools.  Hansen has been paid to promote that terrible idea. Prediction:  HansenScreen shot 2014-06-03 at 6.05.58 AM
SD 20 Rep. Duane Ankney (east of Billings) vs. TEA Party booster clubber Barry Usher  of Colstrip Prediction: AnkneyScreen shot 2014-06-03 at 6.05.58 AM
SD 29 Right-winger birther Rep. Joanne Blyton of Red Lodge vs. Ultra nutjob and imbecile extraordinaire Rep. David Howard. Howard is a man who has, somewhat obsessively, devoted his Facebook page to criticizing gay sex. So of course, the GOP picked to lead the Children and Families legislative committee last session. Howard will face off against Red Lodge Republican Joanne Blyton. Blyton is a birther who actually voted for Birther Bob’s birther bill. (You can see a pdf of HB 205, the birther bill, vote here.) Yes, that’s the same bill that later made the Montana Legislature famous on CNN.   Prediction: Tossup.  This is also an open seat, but is included here because both Blyton and Howard served in the House.Screen shot 2014-06-03 at 6.05.58 AM
SD 34 Rep. Gordon Vance vs. Rep. Ted Washburn both of Bozeman. One of the most bloody GOP primary battles of the year.  Gordon Vance is the TEA Party nutjob who vote to conduct all state business in gold.  Vance and is trying to brutally attack paint Washburn as a liberal and RINO.  Problem is, Washburn is anything but. Washburn is under investigation for having been caught up in the Meth House Scandal, in which documents found at a meth house in Colorado were found to implicate certain GOP lawmakers for illegally coordinating with a dark money group, the American Tradition Partnership.  Washburn also is the author of the famous bill to legalize hunting with silencers.  It made the venerated2011 Montana Nutjob Bills list first published at Cowgirl Blog, and Washburn brought back the bill in 2013.   Washburn has also called for what is essentially a poll tax, a bill that would allow only taxpayers to vote (poor people often don’t have a taxable income, nor, for that matter, do many farmers and ranchers).  And he has often been the lead sponsor of bills that would make it more difficult for people to register to vote, especially if those people are likely to be democrats. Prediction: TossupScreen shot 2014-06-03 at 6.05.58 AM
SD 43 Sen. Scott Boulanger of Darby (appointed, not elected)  vs. Rep. Pat Connell.Sen. Scott Boulanger R-Darby loves being pictured with the  infamous bullet-ridden Obama outhouse.  He’s running in a GOP primary against Rep. Pat Connell. Boulanger was one of ten Republicans who actually voted to take freedoms away from Montanans by keeping being gay an imprisonable offense in Montana.     Voters in the area have already picked Pat Connell over Boulanger once before, when Boulanger ran for house in 2012. Boulanger lost, and the only reason he’s in office now is because he was appointed by the Ravalli County Republican Central Committee after another legislator was elected to the Public Service Commission. Prediction: ConnellScreen shot 2014-06-03 at 6.05.58 AM
 SD 27  Another open seat where a right winger from the House faces a pro-business wing challenger.  TEA Partier Cary Smith of Billings faces former legislator and dentist Don Roberts.  Prediction: TossupScreen shot 2014-06-03 at 6.05.58 AM

Blogger’s Dream: Citizen’s Nightmare

TEA Party PAC Works to Put Birther Bob Wagner Back in Office

A Billings TEA Partier is running a political action committee help skyrocket the TEA Party back into the national spotlight.  Just not in they way they probably hoped.

A TEA Party political action committee known as the Conservative Majority PAC is working to put Birther Bob Wagner back in the state legislature.  If Wagner wins, national media outlets should park a satellite van outside of the capitol building throughout the session an watch as the ludicrous bills, statements, and proposals roll in. Continue reading

A Line in the Sand

Montana Republicans have clarified a very important piece of party doctrine this week about which there had formerly been much confusion.  Yellowstone County Republicans turned away a congressional candidate from attending their annual Lincoln-Reagan Dinner, clearing up once and for all what kind of behavior they consider to be racist and what they do not.

Here’s what you need to know:

When a person who is a candidate on the GOP ticket, who has no chance of being elected, makes national news for calling for another “Operation Wetback” and saying that only white people should be allowed to immigrate to the U.S., Montana Republicans will speak out against you in the press and bar you from their chicken dinner.

However, when an elected Republican official, donor, activist or leader in Montana makes a joke about how blacks like watermelon; or makes an Obama effigy on Halloween out of a pumpkin in blackface; or brings a bullet-ridden outhouse labeled “Obama Library” to the state convention’ or sells bumper stickers that say “Don’t Re-Nigg in 2012“; or calls the President a Kenyan; or wears a confederate flag, or says that the south was right during the civil war; or is a Klansman running for Congress; or is a federal judge who sends a racist email; or produces a documentary about how Obama’s secret plan is to start a race war; or distributes racist flyers about Indians; or is a county official who uses the n-word in his work emails; or choose Black History Month to send a racist flyer advertising the GOP Lincoln Day Dinner; or is a U.S. Senator and says “It’s a hell of a challenge” when asked by a constituent, “Senator Burns, how can you live back there in D.C., with all them n-words?”–this kind of thing is considered perfectly acceptable.  No criticism or denouncement is rendered and your presence is welcome.

Mike Miller Latest Republican Under Investigation

State Rep. Mike Miller (R-Helmville) is the latest Republican legislator under investigation for illegal campaign activity, the AP reported.

His name was found in a box of documents in a meth house which later became the subject of a brilliant work of national investigative journalism. In a full-hour exposé of Montana politics and the secretive right-wing group, PBS’s show Frontline revealed that a secret stash of incriminating documents has been found in a meth house, showing extensive communications between these and perhaps other legislative candidates and the American Traditions Partnership, and showing that the ATP was even preparing campaign material for them.

The list of others who could be investigated because documents and campaign materials with their names were found in the meth house includes–but is not limited to–current and former legislators Ed Butcher, Bob Wagner, Wendy Warburton, Jerry O’Neil, and Derek Skees. Rep. Dan Kennedy (R-Laurel) is already under investigation.

Miller announced the investigation on his own Facebook page, saying. “Well, before the press breaks the news, (or MT-Cowgirl), former MT Rep. John Ward has filed a complaint with the Commissioner of Political Practices over the 2010 primary, alleging coordination with Assembly Action Fund and ATP (WTP).” Screenshot.

He said he is “not commenting further at this time on the merits of my case.” Screenshot. However he added,

“One could wonder in the Kennedy case if a candidate buys something (paper) on sale at say WalMart and Staples has the same item at a higher price, just what is the fair market value of that item. Or if a candidate buys stamps at Costco at a 25 cent discount if Costco is making a corporate contribution to the candidate as it is less than the US Post Office charges which one could assume the CoPP would think was the “fair market value.”

Former Rep. Scott Mendenhall (R-Clancy) blamed the investigation on “More divisiveness out of the self-proclaimed ‘Business Republicans.'” Those alleged to have illegally coordinated with ATP are in the TEA Party camp.

ATP’s Tangled Web May Snare Others

Montana’s head elections regulator ruled this week that American Tradition Partnership illegally coordinated with a GOP legislative candidate, Dan Kennedy R-Laurel.  Now, Montana’s top election regulator says he’s launching an investigation into other candidates ATP may have coordinated with.

ATP is the right-wing political attack group that was instrumental in bringing us the nation’s most bat-crap crazy state legislatures in 2011 and 2013. Kennedy’s primary opponent was but one of several GOP candidates who complained about ATPs activities to elect hard right-wingers over more moderate republicans.

As KUFM’s Dan Boyce reports, an investigation into illegal campaign activity

“is now expanding to include Continue reading

Cowgirl Blog’s Best and Worst of 2012

Happy New Year Cowgirl readers! Here are some of the highlights and lowlights that made 2012 so memorable–and these Cowgirl posts the year’s most read.

 

Best book by a GOP candidate:

When Republican gubernatorial hopeful Neil Livingstone admitted to the Associated Press this year that he was once “a guest on a yacht full of hookers in Monte Carlo,” few people realized that Livingstone is actually a leading authority on such matters.

Indeed, it turns out that Livingstone actually published a detailed instructional manual in 1997, which provides candid advice for world business travelers on how to solicit a high-quality prostitute.

This is not a joke.  This valuable handbook appears as a chapter within a greater literary work by Livingstone, a book entitled Protect Yourself in an Uncertain World” (Amazon, $3.39 used).  You can read the Cowgirl Blog’s review of Livinstone’s masterpiece here.

 

Worst TEA Party call to action:

As a child I learned that empty vessels make the most noise.  That rings especially true this year after a Montana TEA Party leader called for a boycott of all news. The TEA Party leader said the boycott was needed because news agencies in Billings and elsewhere “are complicit in the destruction of America.”

 

Most hypocritical speech of 2012:

The award for this year’s Most Hypocritical Speech goes to Congressman Steve Daines. The congressman’s speech at the RNC lionized his ancestor as not being “Saved by Government” when that ancestor received a huge government handout in the form of a homestead under a federal program called the Homestead Act.

 

Best way to dispose of a TEA Party imbecile, for good:

Part of what has made Governor Brian Schweitzer one of the most popular governors in America is his ability to stand up to the TEA Party. This made How to Dispose of a Tea Party Imbecile, For Good one of 2012’s most popular posts.

 

Montana’s stalest political cliches:

Two hackneyed phrases sucked the last shred meaning out of Montana political pablum this year more than any others.

The phrase “double down” became so overused in Montana politics that anyone who hears or reads it now doubles over.  Enough already.

And any time you hear a politician propose, “a uniquely Montana solution,” notice that the cliche is never followed by an actual example of what that solution might be.  Everyone knows that the people spewing this nonsense are doing so to disguise the fact they they have no actual solutions to offer.  Offenders, you know who you are.

 

Best example of ridiculous Fox News lies:

Fox News this week called the Westboro Baptist Church a “left-wing cult” in their story about the group’s protests of the Newtown shooting victims’ funerals. As the Atlantic Wire asks, “if these people are “left-wing,” just how far “right” is Fox News?

 

Most outlandish conspiracy theories: 

A Montana legislator is behind both of 2012’s dumbest conspiracy theories.  Chair of the House Judiciary Committee Rep. Krayton Kerns (R-Laurel) this year authored the conspiratorial screed on how birth control is the “death nail in the coffin of our Republic”. He also made national headlines after the Cowgirl blog uncovered his belief that the relocation of 60 bison — which he blamed on Walt Disney’s movie “Bambi” — could lead to $25 a gallon gas prices as part of a liberal government plot.

 

Worst movie of the year:

Kalispell movie producer Gerald Molen can’t figure out why the Academy overlooked this high quality of this piece of fine art.  Perhaps because is is actually one of the single most oppressively embarrassing movies ever made, reaching levels of galling unwatchability.  Meanwhile, the director and writer of the movie, and the author of the book on which it is based, has been caught with his pants down.

 

 

Meeting of the Minds

In a little over a month, legislators from across Montana will descend on Helena to make the laws you must live by.  Let’s meet them.

1-Rep. David Howard (R-TEA Park City), Chair of the House Human Services Committee. Rep. Howard is on the record saying he believes a Civil War is imminent 

2-A FRONTLINE documentary reported that documents found in a meth house indicate potentially illegal collusion between a secretive right-wing group and Republican candidates. Files on Dan Kennedy, Wendy Warburton, Mike Miller, Ed Butcher, Bob Wagner, Joel Boniek, Jerry O’Neil and Derek Skees were found so far.

3-Rep. Roger Webb (R-Billings). This recently elected GOP-er was convicted of shooting his neighbors dogs to death. It was reported in MT’s largest newspaper.

4-We now have a legislator with ties to the militia movement. Yes, Sen. Jennifer Fielder (R-TEA Sanders County) was elected and will serve on the Senate Judiciary Committee.

5-Then there is the GOP legislator who when called by the press about a former UM student who accused him of sexual assault, handed the phone to his mom. Rep. Nicolas Schwaderer  (R-Missoula Mineral) denies the allegations.  He has also threatened a defamation suit against anybody making “slanderous statements” against him. It is not known at this time whether mom will be coming to Helena with Rep. Schwaderer.

 6-Rep. Jerry O’Neil (R-TEA Columbia Falls) demanded to be paid for his legislative acts in gold and silver. O’Neil has been ridiculed for his request in the national press.  But recall that last session, half of the House of Representatives voted for Wagner’s bill to require the state of Montana to conduct all business in gold and silver. This includes current GOP Speaker of the House Mark Blasdel and Republican House Majority Leader Gordon Vance and many, many others who are back this session.

7-And let’s not forget Rep. Wendy Warburton and Rep. Kris Hansen (both of Havre) who co-hosted an event with former Gov. Judy Martz to tell Montanans that the War on Women is made up.   Warburton has an explanation for the lack of GOP women candidates. She said a couple of years back, that “the biggest reason that more women who are Republicans don’t get into politics is because we are the pro-family party.” Yes ladies, GOP women are home raising kids like the women of the pro-family party should be.

8-After I first blogged it here, the Chair of the MT House Judiciary Committee TEA Party Republican Krayton Kerns (R-TEA Laurel) was featured in a popular Huffington Post story for his blog post claiming that moving some bison will “topple the Republic” and lead to $25/gallon gas prices.  This month, Kerns’ concern is the “imminent collapse of society.

9-The newest member of the MT House Education committee will be an interesting addition.  Republican Rep. Sarah Laszloffy, age 19, is an alum of the Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry, where students of all ages come to learn how to live  ”a supernatural lifestyle.” (And you thought Republicans opposed alternative lifestyles.  Not true!)

According to the school’s website, Rep. Laszloffy and her fellow students learned how to “live the Bible,” —including useful skills such as “how to cast out demons” and other practical solutions to life’s most pressing problems. Bethel’s members also  purport to have the ability to heal people through prayer and bring the dead back to life.

Perhaps the ability to bring people back from the dead will be useful.  Former legislator turned Public Service Commissioner Roger Koopman threatened that if his fellow GOP legislators didn’t stop criticizing him, “Republican blood will flow in the streets.”

10-The outgoing GOP House Majority Leader, Tom McGillvray (R-TEA Billings). McGillvary tweeted (from his official Twitter account) that President Obama must release his college records so as to prove that he was not a “foreign exchange student” while he studied at Columbia and Harvard. McGillvray is termed out and his term will end this month.

 

Nuggets of Wisdom

Birther Bob Wagner is back.

Jerry O'Neil

Rep. Jerry O’Neil (R-TEA Columbia Falls)

Montana Representative "Birther" Bob Wagner

Former Rep. “Birther” Bob Wagner (R-Harrison)

The former GOP state legislator from Harrison penned a guest editorial in the Flathead Beacon defending the Republican legislator who demanded to be paid for his time in gold and silver.

Is your state Legislature and state employees hostile to the concept of equal protection under the law? Our public servants take an oath to protect this concept under the Constitution. Columbia Falls Rep. Jerry O’Neil poses a question more valuable than “gold.” Is the protection of the value of labor exclusive to government employees only?

O’Neil has been ridiculed for his request in the national press.  But recall that last session, half of the House of Representatives voted for Wagner’s bill to require the state of Montana to conduct all business in gold and silver. This includes current GOP Speaker of the House Mark Blasdel and Republican House Majority Leader Gordon Vance and many, many others who are back this session.

Birther Bob’s editorial also explains his belief that a sound penion system for public employees (as required by the Montana Constitution) is “nothing more than theft and discrimination.” Read the whole thing at the Flathead Beacon.

 

Some Folks Might be Heading to the Pokey in Montana

In a brilliant piece of investigative journalism, the PBS show Frontline has revealed the seedy underbelly of secret money in elections, with a full-hour expose of Montana politics and a secretive right-wing group known as American Tradition Partnership, or ATP.

Numerous Republican candidates might have worked too closely with ATP, and could be in trouble legally if not electorally.  They might be going to the pokey (meaning the clink, the one in Deer Lodge.)

The short story is that the 2010 election, in which the Tea Party swept into control of the Montana legislature, may have featured massive illegalities.   Under state law, third party groups, the ones like American Tradition Partnership which spend masses of unregulated, unreported money, are legally barred from coordinating with candidates.  But several legislative candidates and the ATP have been caught red handed, working together, in violation of the law.  The Frontline documentary reveals that a secret stash of incriminating documents has been found, showing extensive communications between Republican legislative candidates and the ATP, and showing that the ATP was even preparing campaign material for them.

Wendy Warburton's behavior should be investigatedThe Havre Daily News, for example, reported today that GOP legislator Wendy Warburton appears to have been in direct communication with the group, even going so far as to send them a “signature stamp,” presumably so they could send out mailings on her behalf, using her signature.  That’s likely to be found illegal under Montana law.

Files on Mike Miller, Ed Butcher, Bob Wagner, Joel Boniek, Jerry O’Neil and Derek Skees were also featured on Frontline.  Again, groups and candidates cannot coordinate on campaign communications.

Candidates might be subjecting themselves to a range of penalties, including removal from office, fines, or worse.  The question is whether there is a prosecutor out there who is willing to begin looking into this stuff.  Generally, county attorneys stay away from political stuff, leaving it to the Commissioner of Political Practices.

Worse, the ATP’s headquarters is revealed by the documentary to be nothing more than a P.O. Box at a UPS store in Washington DC, even though the group is spending tens of millions of dollars on elections around the country and is the most influential source of money in Montana politics.  They were estimated to have spent well over a million bucks on just a handful of state legislative races in 2010.  They’d send mail to voters, which looked very much like electioneering material, something that is illegal if you are hiding who your donors are.

Not all ATP’s donors have been able to hide.  Investigative journalist Paul Abowd this week uncovered a document that revealed one of ATP’s largest bankrollers-a Colorado anti-union group called Coloradans for Economic Growth.

And I would say that this documentary, above all, is an outright humiliation for the Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, who this summer rejected a request by Montana to reconsider the Citizens United ruling in light of the ATP’s shady, unreported, anonymously funded activities in Montana.  In rejecting Montana’s plea, Kennedy offered a single paragraph describing why he (the swing vote on the court) was refusing to consider the matter. He wrote that there was nothing that led him to believe that the ATP’s activities could lead to “corruption or the appearance of corruption.”

Kennedy, if he watched Frontline this week, probably wishes he could have that one back.  Because he is now revealed to be not a brilliant jurist but a stupid old man, who got duped by a bunch of bad actors.  Soon, groups like ATP will completely own our state and federal governments, using corporate money, installing candidates into office, from a P.O. Box, never revealing who the donors are.  And the Supreme Court  believes that this is all perfectly okay.