Tag Archives: Dan Skattum

Laszloffy’s Losses Part 2

by Cowgirl

The Montana Family Foundation’s Jeff Laszloffy suffered a slew of losses this session, but perhaps none was felt so bitterly as his failure to get a parental consent legislative referendum on the ballot for 2014. The Family Foundation’s legislative referenda work was the organization’s major cash cow last election cycle.  Since Laszloffy failed to get the measure on the ballot for 2014, the Family Foundation’s ability to impact elections has now evaporated.

Cowgirl readers will recall that Governor Steve Bullock allowed Laszloffy’s unconstitutional bill to become law solely so that the bill can be struck down in Montana’s courts. As John Adams at The Lowdown reports, the move allows women to immediately challenge the measure in court long before an identical referenda passed by the legislature gets to the ballot in 2014.

Sure, Laszloffy knew that the measure was unconstitutional–everyone knew it. But Lazloffy’s purpose in pushing it was electoral, not policy-driven.

You see, last election cycle Laszloffy raised some $300,000–purportedly for the parental notification legislative referenda which was sent to the ballot by the 2011 legislature.    Montana Family Foundation’s Incidental Ballot Committee Reports in 2012 show they were able to raise and spend $320,000 in 2012.

In a typical year, the Family Foundation raises about $20,000 for electoral work.  But because of the LR, LR-120, they were able to raise more than 15 times that amount. You can see the reports below.

$18,000 May 8-May 24

$3,000 May 25-June 18

$2,000 June 19-July 3

$6,000 July 4 -Aug 3 

$29,000 Aug 4-Sept 3

$191,000 spent Sept 15-Oct 15

$3,000 spent Oct 16-Oct 25

$68,000 spent Oct 26-Nov 19

For one thing, this is money that could be used to supplant Family Foundation funds that had been going toward Laszloffy’s salary.  What’s also interesting is that the campaign finance reports for Laszloffy’s ballot committee  shows that some of the money he raised was leveraged to actually help the GOP’s top targeted legislative races–not just the ballot initiative.

Here’s a screenshot from his “incidental ballot committee’s” campaign report.  It reports the expenditure Lazsoffy made for a mailer that was about the ballot measure on one side, and a top tier targeted GOP race on the other.   This means that all of the polling and research Laszloffy did for these mailings was supporting the GOP’s legislative candidates too.

MT Fam Foundation hide campaign work as ballot

Thanks to Cowgirl tipsters for pointing out these fundraising anomalies. Reader tips are the essence of this blog. Send tips to mntnacowgirl (at) gmail.com

ATP Sends Mailers Impersonating Unions to Attack Union-Endorsed Candidates

The American Traditions Partnership has run afoul of the law again.  They’ve sent mailers impersonating unions– using the unions’ logos–to attack local candidates that the unions have actually endorsed.

Yesterday, the Teamsters Local 190 sent a cease and desist letter to ATP saying the must immediately stop using the International Brotherhood of Teamsters and the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen logo, among others.

As KBZK Bozeman reports, one of the races these mailers have appeared in is Livingston’s House District 62, where TEA Party Rep. Dan Skattum is running against democratic challenger Reilly Neill. AFL-CIO Executive Secretary Al Ekblad said of the ATP mailers, which can be seen on the KBZK website:

“Most of what of what they have done has been vile, malicious, but in this case, it’s illegal, it infringes on federal copyright laws, it is challenged under the trademark laws.”

You can read the Teamsters cease and desist letter [PDF] here.  Other unions have also sent cease and desist letters.

Yesterday, the Associated Press reported that ATP bank records showed anti-union groups were among ATP’s largest funders.

The Foul 57

Republican candidates across the county have tried to distance themselves from Rep. Todd Akin, R-Mo., who believes that rape victims should be forced to give birth and said that victims of “legitimate rape” rarely get pregnant because “the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”

That’s been much more difficult for GOPers in Montana.

A whopping 57 candidates for the Montana legislature actually voted for an amendment to the Montana Constitution to ban abortion, under all circumstances, with no exception for rape or incest.  Sen. Debby Barrett (R-Dillon) was one of them, as democratic challenger Richard Turner of Dillan smartly points out in a mail piece (pictured).

The forced birth for rape victims amendment  cleared the house and the senate with 96 votes. All Republicans voted for it except Lila Evans.  However, because it takes a 2/3 vote of 150 legislators to amend the constitution,  the amendment failed by only four votes.

Below the fold is the list of current legislative candidates who voted in favor of forced births for victims of rape and incest.  Check it out to see if your legislator is on it–I’ve alphabetized the list by town.

Shamefully, Jonathan Windy Boy and Gene Vuckovich also made the list. To be sure, there are many more GOP candidates for legislature who share these beliefs but weren’t in the 2011 session–like Scott Sales. There are also many more Republican legislators who voted for this but aren’t up for re-election this year.

 Rick Hill, Steve Daines, and Tim Fox all support Akin’s position.  Rehberg was an early major donor to Akin.

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We’ve Got a Screamer

Anti-intelligence candidate Jon Arnold has filed for office on the Republican ticket.  He says he wants voters to send him “kicking and screaming” to Helena.

 I will go kicking and screaming into Helena, pushing our leaders to try to take back our powers that have been restrained from us by the federal government.

I think Arnold is confused about what “going kicking and screaming” means.  But that’s no surprise, considering that he’ll tell you straight up: “intellectuals” are the problem:

We have a despotic, unconstitutional fourth branch of government, comprised of a small army of two million bureaucrats….Many of these people are considered to be “intellectuals.”  The problem with intellectuals is that they are not smart enough to know the things that they don’t know.  This was the brilliance of our founders.

Well, it is “the brilliance” of Jon Arnold anyway.

Jon Arnold is running for legislatureIt used to be that being smart and getting an education was viewed as important in America. But now, it’s the dumb that we put on a pedestal.   And to what do we owe this gift of dumb? Right-wing fundamentalism, both religious and political. We have a Presidential candidate who is worried that Satan is attacking America.  Rick Santorum says, in public, that college is all part of Obama’s evil plan to corrupt the nation’s youth.

Arnold further demonstrates his aversion to smart when he asks voters to:

Imagine if ten years from now there is a “sin tax” (such as those for alcohol and tobacco) for the purchase of a cheeseburger…The only protection against such injustices is to not grant the government this power to begin with.

What Arnold doesn’t know is that there is already a gaggle of Montana politicians clamoring for policies that would require a massive food police bureaucracy–at an enormous expense.  However, they are all members of his own party.  Here is a list of legislators (all Republicans) that signed an op-ed in favor of the idiotic boondoggle. The “evidence” for the claims made in the op-ed comes from TEA Party Republican Tom Burnett’s own blog and “research” paper.

Representatives: Tom Burnett, Janna Taylor,  Salomon, Wayne Stahl, Jonathan McNiven, Pat  Ingraham, Tom McGillvray, Ken Peterson, Jeff Wellborn,  Cary Smith, Jerry O’Neil, Bob Wagner, James Knox,  Dan Skattum, Wendy  Warburton, David Howard, Jerry Bennett, Jesse O’Hara, Christy Clark, Kris Hansen, Champ Edmunds, Krayton Kerns, Ron Ehli, Mark  Blasdel, Doug Kary, Austin  Knudsen, Kelly Flynn, Walt McNutt, John Esp, Pat Connell, Matt Rosendale, Cleve Loney, Mike Cuffe

Senators: Debby Barrett, Ed Walker, Ryan Zinke, Bob Lake

Arnold is a Republican candidate Montana Senate District 43, which includes Anaconda and surrounding communities.

Inside the Bad Idea Factory

The bad ideas and nutty legislation proposed in the Montana legislature certainly did not come from Montana constituents, and  did not even (always) originate in the muddled minds of TEA Party Republicans. Instead, many of the bad bills came from an out-of-state hard right strategy group known as the American Legislative Exchange Council or ALEC.

Much research has already been done into the connections between ALEC and its corporate backers from Big Tobacco, PHARMA, and Big Oil, and there are several good sources of information out there about these connections. But that’s not the whole story.

This summer, Center for Media and Democracy posted some 800 ALEC “model” bills and resolutions on a new website, ALECexposed.org.     Now, internet savvy Montanans have an intriguing and largely untapped resource to compare ALEC bills to proposals in the Montana legislature and to see how and where they overlap. It would be interesting if people who find things post them  in the comments. Then we could all see what patterns emerge, if there are certain legislators who were the worst offenders, or if certain policy areas appear to dominate the list.

Even the briefest look at the ALEC documents shows that its goals appear to be much broader than enacting pro-corporate policy.

In some instances, the model legislation is designed to advance the agenda of far-right religious fundamentalists to steer public funds to religious/private schools. Here’s the model ALEC bill on special education vouchers–a type of “gateway” proposal to lead the way to full private/religious school vouchers later–and here is the Montana legislative version, for comparison.

In many cases however, the greater goals appear to be electoral.  Take the voter suppression proposal, a bill that (if it wasn’t vetoed) would have helped Republicans keep more young Montanans, seniors, and low-income people living in isolated areas from voting.  Here’s the model ALEC Model bill to require a current photo ID to vote, and  here’s the Montana legislative bill.

The other way ALEC advances the GOP electoral strategy is by forcing dems to take tough votes on issues that the republicans will then use to campaign against them.  Take for example, the ALEC bill to opt out of health care reform.  Here is the model ALEC bill for a constitutional amendment to allow states to opt-out and here’s the Montana legislative version.

Republicans don’t like to talk about how they are using the legislative process for partisan electioneering with assistance from out-of-state groups.  Instead, they claim that ALEC is no more than a non partisan source of policy materials and even bragged about their attempts to pass ALEC legislation.

Here is a list of current legislators with ALEC task force positions (below the fold).  Like the TEA Party, the ALEC crew appears to be concentrated in the House with a few notable exceptions, like State Senator and Gubernatorial run considerer Jeff Essmann.   The list also seems heavy on Republicans from the Flathead area.

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Ad Campaign Against TEA Party Extremists Launched

A slate of radio ads holding TEA party legislators accountable for their extreme votes and bills goes on the air this week.  Montana Conservation Voters wasted no time launching radio spots targeting Derek Skees, (R-Whitefish Kalispell), Dan Skattum (R-Livingston) and Tom Burnett (R-Bozeman).

All of the targeted legislators are in vulnerable seats and seen as beatable in 2012.

The scorecard that is mentioned on the ads is available at www.mtvoters.com for those who want to see how your legislators voted on clean air and water.