Tag Archives: Dan Kennedy

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.

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

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.

 

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.

The Supernatural

TEA Party Republican Rep. Dan Kennedy, of Laurel, figured out he had no chance of being elected after participating in the  Infamous Session of Frivolous and Wacky Bills  decided to take some time to “focus on his furniture business.” Now, another wingnut has joined the fight between the mainstream conservative movement and its very non-mainstream fringe.

Meet Republican Sarah Laszloffy, 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, Candidate Laszloffy and her fellow students learn 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.

However, these beliefs led to a very bad situation for one young man, who either fell or was pushed of a 200-foot cliff before two Bethel students, who were with him, tried to pray him back to life–for hours–instead of calling 911.  The victim filed a lawsuit against the students after he ended up a paraplegic.

It’s not clear why someone with supernatural powers would want to sit around passing changes to the Montana Code Annotated.  Nonetheless, the non-mainstream’s champion for this seat is well-connected.   Sarah Laszloffy is the daughter of noted birther Jeff Laszloffy who is a lobbyist for the religious right.

Laszloffy, age 20, is running against Debra Bonogofsky in the Republican primary for Laurel’s House District 57.

Something’s Rotten

The shadow group Western Traditions Partnership’s defense of Exxon after the Yellowstone River oil spill and its adulation for candidates defending the oil giant are raising eyebrows in Montana.

News reports indicate that WTP, which now calls itself American Traditions Partnership after it came to light that it was based in Washington D.C., rather than the west, appears to be coming very close to stumping for Dan Kennedy–something they shouldn’t be doing.

The national newspaper the Washington Independent is reporting that the executive director of WTP earlier this month:

flew to the site of ExxonMobil’s Yellowstone River pipeline spill to praise the cleanup response by the oil and gas giant and to laud the efforts of state Rep. Dan Kennedy.
“State Rep. Dan Kennedy, whose home is at the center of the incident, should be commended for his efforts to coordinate response with the local community and involve local workers in the ongoing cleanup efforts,” ATP Executive Director Donald Ferguson said in a press release. “I am very impressed with ExxonMobil’s response to this [oil pipeline] release.”

Hmmm.  Rep. Dan Kennedy (R-Laurel) comes out for Exxon, and WTP comes in to “laud his efforts.”  Maybe Ferguson was aware at some of how bad this looks, because he put this disclaimer at the end of his laudatory remarks:

“Donald Ferguson has paid for this trip out of his own pocket, and did not come at the request of any official or company.”

I wonder if Fergeson intended this disclaimer to distance his actions from Exxon, or from WTP?

Since WTP won’t disclose their donors, we don’t know if Exxon paid WTP with a secret donation rather than an outright contract.  WTP claims to work on “education” not getting candidates elected, and as to the question of whether WTP is stumping for Fergeson, how much does it matter if he “paid for it out of his own pocket” when he is the director, spokesperson, and figurehead of WTP, from whence he presumably draws his salary?

WTP is the lead plaintiff in the legal challenge to Montana’s ban on corporate spending for candidates.  They tout their organization’s secrecy as a benefit of giving them money and have been under fire for corruption in Montana and other states.  Montana TEA Party legislator Art Wittich (R-TEA Bozeman) is said to be the new local figurehead for the entity.

In Wake of Oil Spill, Republicans Say Exxon Should “Stick It” to Montana Town

As oil spills into Montana’s once pristine Yellowstone River, which flows out of Yellowstone National Park, the Chair of the Montana Republican Party writes in the Missoulian today that ExxonMobil–the company responsible for the oil spill near Billings– “should stick it to Missoula.”

Republicans Say Exxon Should Stick It To Montana TownThe irony of the screenshot here is really beyond words.

But all irony aside this is a pretty damning letter.  Rehberg’s campaign manager has been going on the radio to say Republicans are going after Missoula voters.  Too bad now we know how Rehberg’s party really feels about jobs in Missoula…he’s advocating that the company not spend money in local Missoula stores and hotels because they refuse to take a position with him on the megaload shipments.

And it’s not just GOP Chair Will Deschamps. Word on the street is that Republican Rep. Dan Kennedy (R-Laurel) thanked Exxon at an  EPA town meeting last night, and GOP Gov candidate Ken Miller (R-Laurel) told listeners to the Voices of Montana program that he thought the Governor, who was critical of Exxon on Rachel Maddow and other national news outlets, was being “too harsh” on the company.

UPDATE: Rob Kailey has a good take on this at Left in the West.

TEA Partiers Plan to Gather at MT Capitol with Weapons

Just when you thought the Montana Legislature couldn’t get any crazier, this post from the TEA Party forum Edberry.com appeared in the blog inbox.

TEA Party Plans to Storm Montana Capitol Building with WeaponsWhat does “Extra-Conservative” TEA Party leader Tim Ravndal mean by a “very very very loud message” ?

Members of the forum on which this announcement was posted include the following: Rep. James Knox, 2012 Gubernatorial candidate Ken Miller, Rep. “Birther” Bob Wagner, Tim Baldwin (son of Chuck Baldwin), Rep. Cary Smith, Rep. Champ Edmunds, Robert Brown (who lists his title as Coordinator of the John Birch Society in Montana, though he always claims he testifies only on his own behalf) Rep. Dan Kennedy, and Republican operative Chuck Denowh.

Nutjob Bills in the Montana Legislature

For your reading pleasure, here are some of the major pieces of legislation that have been put forward by the Tea Party Republicans who are now in control of the legislature.  This is not a joke. These are real bills, and they are currently taking priority in the Montana legislature.  Enjoy.

Welcome to the land of nutters, the Montana Legislature.

1.  Legalize hunting with hand-thrown spear (Senate Bill 112)

2.  Create fully-armed militia in every town (House Bill 278)

3.  Allow legislators to carry weapons in the Capitol (Senate Bill 279)

4.  Create an 11 person panel with authority to nullify all federal laws (House Bill 382)

5   Allow guns in schools (House Bill 558)

6.  Eliminate educational requirements for persons seeking job of State Superintendent of Schools (HB 154)

7.  Lift nuclear ban for purpose of building a nuclear reactor in the Flathead Valley (House Bill 326)

8.  Withdraw the United States of America from the United Nations (Senate Joint Resolution 2)

9.  Eliminate all state incentives for developing wind power (House Bill 244)

10. Omit Barack Obama’s name from the 2012, ballot because his father was born outside of America (House Bill 205)(this guy was on CNN this week)

11. Compulsory marriage counseling for people seeking a divorce (House Bill 438)

12. Give sheriffs authority over the federal government in terror investigations (Senate Bill 114)

13. Legalize hunting with silencers (House Bill 174)

14. Lift the prohibition on carrying concealed weapons in bars, churches and banks (House Bill 384)

15. Eliminate law that requires landlords to install carbon monoxide detectors (House Bill 354)

16. Require the federal government to prove in court that the National Parks were lawfully acquired. (House Bill 506)

17. Officially designate the “Code of the West” as the “Code of Montana” (Senate Bill 216)

UPDATE: 18.  Declare that global warming is good. (House Bill 549)

h/t RastaMon for this photo.