Tag Archives: labor

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.


Rick Hill: Women Should Be Paid Less Because We Aren’t “Career Ready”

H/T Montana AFL-CIO

In the most recent gubernatorial debate in Billings, Rick Hill blamed women for the fact that we get paid less than men for doing the same exact job.  He said we just need more training because we are not “career ready,”  and that he doesn’t believe a policy change to fix the problem is needed.

On average, full-time working women earn just 77 cents for every dollar a man earns–which adds up to $431,000 less for each of us over our lifetimes.  That’s a wage gap that exists regardless of personal choices like education or occupation.

Even when you factor in that women are more likely to leave the workforce when they have children or work in positions that allow flexibility to care for kids over wages, studies have found no other way to explain at least some of the gap than discrimination. As the Washington Post reports:

When such circumstances are factored in — along with race and other demographic data — about 40 percent of the gender wage gap is still unaccounted for, says Ariane Hegewisch of the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR), citing a 2007 study by Francine Blau and Lawrence Kahn.

That means that women earn 91 cents for every dollar, as compared to men, due to factors that have nothing to do with life choices — a difference that many researchers identify as discrimination.

As the Montana AFL-CIO points out on their Facebook page, this wage gap has real life consequences. Women make up nearly half the workforce.  When women bring home less money each day, it means they have less for the everyday needs of their whole families.

Steve Bullock on the other hand is fighting against the War on Women.  Bullock and Walsh are strong believers in equal pay for equal work and that there should be laws and policies put into place to protect working women and all Montanans from discriminatory practices.  That’s why Steve Bullock is the labor endorsed candidate and Rick Hill is supported by slugs like Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker.

Baucus Took $40,000 from Koch Brothers

I just learned this a few days ago, but Koch industries is listed as one Max Baucus’s largest donors.   The company is listed as having  contributed $40,000 to Baucus since 2005.  That puts him in an exclusive club: with Paul Ryan, Michelle Bachmann, Mitch McConnell, John Boehner, and Eric Cantor–who have all taken more than $30,000 from the Kochs during the last four campaign cycles.

And it’s eight times what the Koch’s have given to Denny Rehberg, according to FEC reports.

This is a highly disturbing state of affairs and Baucus should promptly return the money.  The Koch brothers have spent hundreds of millions of dollars attempting to persuade the American public that climate change is a hoax.  Generally, they fund much of the racist and inciteful enterprise known as the Tea Party, from grassroots (or astroturf) organizing to TV ads.  They also bankroll anti-union candidates in dozens of states, including major support for Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker.

When the 2012 election is over, the Kochs, whose combined fortune is estimated to be as high as $50 billion (exceeded only by Bill Gates and Warren Buffett), will have spent at least a billion dollars to try to oust Obama and Biden and other democrats across the nation.

These two gentlemen, who inherited their chemical and paper products company from their father (they make Brawny paper towels and Dixie cups, so shop for some alternatives),  have stated that their political activity stems from a few core beliefs. According to a New Yorker profile, they believe that taxes are too high, that corporations are regulated too heavily, and that too much money is spent on the poor and the needy.

Butte Girl Plays Leading Roll In Wisconsin TEA Party Recall Election

The voters of Wisconsin go to the polls today to vote on the recall of six TEA Party Republican legislators who helped with Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s attack on unions. One of the leaders in recalling these legislators is Montana native Stephanie Shriock, who grew up in Butte and ran Senator Jon Tester’s successful 2006 campaign.

Now Shriock, CEO of EMILY’s List, is among the national players leading the charge to oust the Republicans responsible and replacing them with democratic women candidates. Says Shriock in a column in the Huffington Post today:

The public employees who Republicans are targeting are unionized fields with primarily female memberships. Teachers are 75% female. Nurses are 95%. Groups exempt from Walker’s attacks such as firefighters and police officers are predominantly male — but our brothers and sisters in labor are out there together because they understand the stakes.

We know these candidates are bad for unions. They’re bad on other issues women care about too. Really bad.  Kudos to Schriock and the women of Emily’s List for getting involved.  Here’s wishing them good luck from the home crowd.