Tag Archives: Bruce Tutvedt

Responsible Republican Blog

A deliciously silly item to report today.

There is a new blog in Montana, an anonymous one, by the name of MontanaFloodlight.com and written ostensibly by self-proclaimed “responsible Republicans.”  It takes aim at the Tea Party and the extremist faction of Republicans.

The headlines are very amusing as is the content, and as are the targets of the blog’s ire.  “Fiscally Prudent” is the title, for example, of a July 10 post, containing the following paragraph:

Along with our balanced budget and healthy ending fund balance Montana is a shining example of government that works. Thanks in large part to Republicans that fought their own party to make sure pensions were funded!

Funnier still is that the blog apparently will employ a strategy of accusing extremists of being fiscal liberals.  A July 1 entry is entitled “Essmann and Fielder: Big Spenders.”  Fielder is state senator Jennifer Fielder from Sanders County, who works with militia groups, believes all federal land including national parks should be reverted to private status, and is a Cliven Bundy aficionado.  And yet this moderate Republican blog has decided to try to take her down, or weaken her, by accusing her of being a “big spender.”  Interesting choice.

The toughest part of this effort is that the blog finds itself arguing that the state is in solid fiscal health, something that Republicans hate admitting because it means crediting Steve Bullock.  But a May 31 entry is headlined “State Government is NOT Growing” and features plums like this:

The latest falsehood created by Art Wittich and being repeated by the extremists is that the budget blew up three times faster than private sector growth.  Nice fuzzy terms to hide the lies.

So the obvious question is, who is behind this blog?

I’d say there are a few possibilities. First, perhaps the responsible Republican faction in Montana, led by Kalispell Senator Bruce Tutvedt and company.   Perhaps they raised some money and hired an operation.   Lord knows that there’s no sitting Republican official in Montana who could even start a website let alone put together a blog.  Perhaps some money has come from  DC, from a group such as Karl Rove’s American crossroads which sometimes takes the side of establishment Republicans in primaries.

But since it’s anonymous, it tells me that the authors are afraid to admit that they are not extremists.  Might it then be Bowen Greenwood and Will Deschamps, the director and chair of the state GOP?

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

Senate Votes For Bullock’s Healthcare Proposal; GOP moderates break ranks

by Cowgirl

The  Montana Senate today voted to move forward with a bill by Sen. Dave Wanzenried (SB 395) to reform and expand the Medicaid program in Montana to working poor people–people whose employers don’t provide health benefits or don’t pay enough for people to afford to buy it on their own.  The expansion program is called Access Health Montana.

Now the more conservative House must approve it as well.

Republicans have been hesitant to support the idea until now, even though it would mean billions of federal dollars for Montana.  This is not surprising.   Using government spending to create jobs (one of the Democrats’ strongest arguments for this proposal) is something that Republicans are claiming they fundamentally oppose,  (though not when it comes to highway funding or farm subsidies apparently). So a few moderates joined in with the Dems, and the bill passed.

That hasn’t stopped many GOP legislators on the right wing from doing what they do best–spread misinformation.

During debate, for example, Sen. Art Wittich revealed that he has a most embarrassing lack of understanding of the bill–or perhaps he just decided to openly lie about it.

Wittich claimed there was “no cap” to the Medicaid expansion –that it would be infinitely costly for the state.  That’s false.  Eligibility is capped at 138% of the Federal Poverty Level – that means it’s limited to people who make less that that amount, about $15,000 for a single person.

He also made the ludicrous statement that instead being benefited by a Medicaid expansion, the uninsured should simply “use welfare” to buy health insurance.  That’s not possible.  Temporary Aid for Needy Families (TANF)–what Wittich calls “welfare”– is only for people with kids.  It’s also temporary (hence the name).   Families can only get the benefits for a limited time.  There is no possibility of it being used for a purchase of health insurance.

Unlike TANF, Access Health Montana (the Medicaid Expansion plan that the Senate voted up) is not limited to people with kids.

Thankfully, a few GOP Senators looked into the facts of the matter, rather than relying on  Wittich’s fibs.  Llew Jones, Taylor Brown, Bruce Tutvedt, Ed Buttrey, and Jim Peterson are all Republicans who voted for the bill.  All Democrats voted yes.

These Republicans made a smart choice.  Access Health Montana is the only way to keep federal healthcare dollars in Montana now that Obamacare is the law of the land.  If Montana doesn’t expand Medicaid, our federal tax dollars will go to the other states that do–instead of being spent here in Montana to boost our own economy.

That would translate to a $700 million annual loss to Montana’s future Gross Domestic Product. This probably doesn’t mean much to TEA Party dunces, but the GOPers with basic economic sense get that the expansion of Medicaid would add an additional 1.7% to Montana’s GDP for the next eight years.  For context, understand that a 1.7% addition would roughly double the expected GDP growth rates for the next several years in this state.

The Medicaid expansion also helps states deal with some of the things Republicans say they don’t like about Obamacare.

For example, it protects small local hospitals and rural health care centers from federal cuts.  Keeping the doors open to Montana’s rural hospitals means keeping jobs in their districts from being eliminated, and allowing rural Montanans access to medical care for which they would otherwise have to drive many hours.

It would also protect Montana employers from what the GOP calls “Obamacare penalties” – tax increases.  The Affordable Care Act levies a tax on any company that employs 50 or more workers that does not provide workers with health insurance.   This tax is alleviated or eliminated for many employers if these same workers can now get Medicaid.   A recent private-sector report by Jackson Hewitt estimated that Montana companies will face an additional $10-15 million in tax penalties without the Medicaid expansion for this very reason.

Finally, Repubs who bothered to inform themselves about Bullock’s proposal know that Montana can do a trial run of the idea.  For three years while the federal government is paying for 100% of the cost of benefits, Montana can opt-in to the expansion and see how things work.  When the state is asked to start picking up a meager portion of the cost (the most states can be asked to pay is 10% and even then not until 2020),  Montana has the legal authority to roll back the extension to the way things are now.

For these reasons, I expect that once Republicans have a chance to think about it this will pass the state House, with perhaps a few minor edits to increase the emphasis on reform. Certainly it doesn’t hurt that the GOP’s major electoral engine, the Montana Chamber of Commerce, has endorsed the idea too.

And don’t forget that an earlier version of Bullock’s proposal, HB 590, by Rep. Chuck Hunter has already received a majority of more than 50 votes on a (procedural) vote in the house.  This latest version with its increased emphasis on reforming Medicaid and room for GOP input will be able to pick up more votes.

Moderate GOP Breaks Away from Loons on Dark Money

Right wing blaming anonymous blogs for GOP’s problems

by Cowgirl

Kudos to GOP senators President Jim Peterson and Senator Bruce Tutvedt, for thumbing their noses at their neanderthal GOP compatriots in the Senate and supporting (and actually carrying) Steve Bullock’s bill, SB 375, to reform campaign finance.  Peterson and Tutdvedt  held leadership posts once in the GOP, but were bounced by the new ruling right-wing junta.

Bullock’s bill imposes a very simple requirement, something you would think everybody could agree on: it requires campaign funding sources to be disclosed.  If there is an ad on TV or radio, or a glossy mailer that arrives at a voters house, or a yard sign or leaflet, Montana law has always required that the voter be able to inquire as to who, exactly, is paying for the mass-produced item.

But the Supreme Court struck aspects of our law down (in Citizens United) and so Bullock and Peterson are trying to rewrite the statute to meet with the Supreme Court’s idiotic conclusion of law.  At another time, Bullock was actually arguing the case in the Supreme Court.

Art Wittich, Jason Priest and others are leading the right-wing charge against the bill.

Hilariously, one of the GOP’s main arguments against this bill is….ready for this…..that Democrats are winning elections because of anonymous blogs, and this bill does nothing to regulate them. From the Helena IR today, reporting on Priest’s floor testimony on the bill:

State Sen. Jason Priest of Red Lodge warned fellow Republicans that the measure won’t affect anonymous blogs, a venue he argued where Democrats hold an advantage.

Priest went on to say that the democratic party uses blogs to “motivate voters,” presumably in a way that the GOP blogs fail to do.  “Vote for this bill, and keep on losing elections,” Priest warned his fellow party members.

This same point is being made today, in a series of tweets, by party operative and former state GOP communications director Chris Shipp.

The bigger conflict, as we all know, is between conservative and moderate Republicans.  Moderates are furious that right-wing groups, acting as a conservative Mujahideen, took it upon themselves to enforce conservative purity in recent elections.  In 2010 and 2012 they spent big money to oust GOP moderate candidates in state legislative primaries. This division is a giant disaster for the GOP and has fractured the party possibly beyond repair.  So it makes sense that they are blaming their problems on an anonymous blog. That’s what the GOP does best–blame someone else when it fucks up.

For the record, this blog is my own free speech, done on my uncompensated free time, and with the help of many tipsters who let me know about juicy stuff taking place in Montana politics.  Mostly it is about googling, emailing and writing, things that many Republicans seem to struggle with as if these tasks require some advanced degree in science.

I get a few thousand readers on a good day (although I did get 14,000 on a single day last month!).  It is true that this blog has become influential, but only because it prints facts and opinion that state newspapers, and in some cases democrats in general, choose not to bother putting out there.  And don’t forget other blogs such as Flathead Memo, From Eternity to HereIntelligent Discontent and the many of the blogs listed on the right of your screen on this page, who also do the same, important type of work.

More to the point, Jason Priest and other Tea Partiers should try to take this occasion to become more introverted and ponder an important question: why are typical Republican thinkers and writers in Montana incapable of producing a blog worth reading?

PP&L Corp Among American Tradition Partnership Bankrollers

Today, PBS and ProPublica have posted the contents of the American Tradition Partnership’s bank records, which include some donor records from the 2010 election cycle. A Montana judge ordered that the information be made public last week.  Among the groups funders is Pennsylvania Power & Light, or PP&L as it likes to be known in Montana (to eliminate the need to remind people where it is headquartered.)

Other ATP financial backers include:

  • TEA Party billionaire Ray Thompson, of Kalispell ($10,000)
  • John Sinrud, of Bozeman
  • Intermountain Rural Electric Association ($25,000)
  • Former TEA Party Legislator Tom Burnett (R-Bozeman)
  • Montana and Wyoming Oil Company
  • Flathead Timber, of Whitefish
  • Dan O’Neil Construction, of Billings
  • Soby Construction, of Bozeman
  • Raemaeker Insurance, of Choteau
  • Livingston developer Peter Mackenzie (various checks, thousands)
  • T. Baird Construction, Big Timber
  • developer Gateway Village LLC, Bozeman
  • Jason Theilman, Steve Daines campaign manager
  • GOP Senator Bruce Tutvedt (R-Kalispell)
  • Applebee’s Neighborhood Grill (Apple Gilroy Inc.)
  • Big Timber TEA Partier Bob Faw
  • AAON Inc.($20 k)
  • K12 Management Inc. Catholic religious private school corporation, Washington D.C. ($20k)
  • Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce PAC
  • Taxpayers for Liberty, Andrew J. O’Neill ($4k)
  • TEA Party Rep. Dan Kennedy (R-Laurel), Campaign account
  • Colorado Mine Association ($25k)

–and many others.

I haven’t had time to go through all the documents, but Cowgirl readers can do so here.  It should be most interesting to see what people find. This information is from the 2010 cycle only, not 2012.