Tag Archives: Ed Butcher

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.

 

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.

 

ATP “Meth House” Docs Contain Names of Shadow Group’s Legislative Candidates

Last night, FRONTLINE revealed that ATP documents found in a meth house appear to contain evidence of “possible illegal ‘coordination’ between” the group and the candidates it supported, the Atlantic reported.

The boxes contained files on Mike Miller, Ed Butcher, Bob Wagner, Wendy Warburton, Jerry O’Neil and Derek Skees, who is now a candidate for statewide office.  Butcher and Miller were discussed extensively on the FRONTLINE piece.  The other names you can see in these screenshots.


But that’s not the only juicy information thought to be lurking in those boxes.  They also contain ATP’s Wells Fargo bank statements, and the names of some of the groups secret donors.

The group filed a “motion for protective order” in court last month to try and require the Commissioner of Political Practices to keep these public documents secret because it contained the names of ATP donors.   The state of Montana and ATP have filed briefs on the question of whether they can be made public.  Thanks to tipsters you can download them here and here.

 

A Poem for Scotty Sales

This has been making the rounds on email today, author unknown.  I’ve posted it here in its entirety.  –Cowgirl

First, house speaker Scotty Sales,
Libeled Lincoln with his tales,
Sop intended for the right,
They’d stand together in their might

 

Koop and Butcher heard the call,
In echelon they all stood tall,
Poor Eddie barely reached Scott’s knees,
Koop Dog hugged his barren tree.

 

Now united they each chanted,
‘The stimulus must be recanted!’
Certain that their plan would hold,
Each man’s actions grew more bold.

 

Koop began to track his score,
While Butcher bellowed like a boor,
Even Scotty found some fame,
In an illegal poker game.

 

Each with his own distraction,
Missed the rise of a new faction,
They screamed and made a frightful din,
When the house became a log cabin.

 

Realizing that they’d been beat,
Each left town in quick retreat,
Saner heads now held the field,
That our boys had had to yield.

 

Scott returned to Bozeman town,
Where fate again made him a clown,
For there wife Sandy broke the law,
By stealing money from her ma.

 

Seems she felt that it was hers,
To spend on items such as furs,
She stopped and shopped in each new store,
Until dear Alice had no more!

 

Scotty claimed he did not see,
The evidence of perfidy,
Saying, ‘Surely it’s not my fault,
That Sandy raided Alice’s vault.’

 

Why did Scott forsake his wife?
To simply save his public life?
If so, I say with wit most wry,
That the following slogan should apply:

 

‘Vote for Scott and you shall see,

That he’s as honest as Sandy!’

Fundamentalists Strengthen Ties to Shadier Movements

The fact that Chuck Baldwin was tapped to be the keynote speaker for a Flathead “Pro-life” event in Kalispell this January is one more piece of evidence of connections between Montana’s white nationalists and the Flathead area’s anti-choice crusaders.  Chuck Baldwin is  the new-to-the-Flathead preacher and constitution party presidential candidate whose columns are archived on VDARE.com, a racist website that regularly bashes immigrants, and who states that he believes the South was right in the Civil War (although he quickly adds that he is no racist).

The connection between race-based politics and Flathead area anti-choicers is alive and well as Cheryl Wolfe outlines on her blog in a must-read piece: GOP Manifest Destiny.