Tag Archives: Laurie McKinnon

TEA Party Justice Says Punishment for Judge Who Blamed 14-year-old for own rape too harsh

A TEA Party justice on the Montana Supreme Court says that public censure and a month suspension for  Montana judge who said a 14-year-old rape victim appeared “older than her chronological age” is too harsh a penalty.

The Montana Supreme Court last week ordered Judge G. Todd Baugh be publicly censured, as the Judicial Standards Commission had recommended.  They also gave him a 31-day suspension without pay for his misconduct.

All the justices agreed except one.  The Montana Growth Network backed justice Laurie McKinnon thought censure AND a suspension was too harsh.

The Montana Supreme Court ruled that censure wasn’t enough because:

“There is no place in the Montana judiciary for perpetuating the stereotype that women and girls are responsible for sexual crimes committed against them.”

Yet Laurie McKinnon penned a dissent longer than the original ruling.  McKinnon objected to the harsher sentence the Montana Supreme Court handed down.

It was revealed last month by Michael Beckel for the Center for Public Integrity  in a story that Lee Newspapers ran statewide, McKinnon raised only $42,000 for her own campaign, but Montana Growth Network, ran by disgraced Sen. Jason Priest (R-TEA Red Lodge) and Rep. Ed Walker (R-TEA Exxon Mobil), spent over $690,000 on the race (and some attack mailers against any Republicans Priest and Walker thought might support health care for working poor using federal government funds from taxes Montanans are already paying.)

Ed Walker is running the legislative campaign effort for the Montana GOP.

Jason Priest is not running for re-election as he faces charges for parter and family member assault, although it is not known what involvement he still has in the dark money movement. His trial is set for August 12.

We’ve Met the Enemy and It is Science and Knowledge

Creationists have been much in the news in Montana of late. Here’s the latest on Greg Gianforte, the billionaire tech mogul who apparently believes the earth is 4,300 years old.  It’s also time for an update on Lawrence VanDyke, the creationist supreme court candidate who believes in “pray away the gay” conversion therapy.

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National Watchdog Group Profiles Jason Priest’s Dark Money Group

Michael Beckel has just published a new profile on the dark money group a GOP state senator used to influence the Montana state Supreme Court race and block the Medicaid expansion.

The profile shows how Priest used dark money to demonize Supreme Court candidates Ed Sheehy and Elizabeth Best in support of a TEA Party candidate.  Priest also used the dark money group to send out attack mailers to kill the Medicaid expansion.  Because of Priest’s actions, 70,000 of Montanan’s most disadvantaged working poor won’t be able to get health care. 

Beckel, who writes for the Center for Public Integrity, published the report on the heels of a new analysis by the National Institute on Money in State Politics that found Montana is one of 35 states where rules regarding the disclosure of political spending by independent groups are less stringent than federal election law.

There’s much more on this, so check out the links in Beckel’s story above.

UPDATE on Pharmaceutical Industry Cash and Montana Growth

The Center for Public Integrity has issued an update to a story they published yesterday about drug industry campaign donations.  Previously, the Center for Public Integrity had reported that the drug company lobby “PhRMA” provided the primary financial support for TEA Party Sen. Jason Priest’s “Montana Growth Network.”

Late Friday afternoon, the Center for Public Integrity issued a new story saying that their previous report was incorrect.  I had blogged about the old report here.  This post has been updated to reflect that correction. The Center for Public Integrity had previously reported that $500,000 in PhRMA cash went to Jason Priest’s “Montana Growth Network.”

In fact, the money actually went to an organization called “Montana Growth” which CPI reports is linked to a PR firm called Hilltop Public Solutions. That group has an office in Billings, MT.

When contacted about the money, Hilltop refused to answer questions:

When the Center for Public Integrity called the D.C. office of Hilltop Public Solutions to inquire about Montana Growth, an intern who answered the phone said, “We don’t take calls for that group here.”

Schuyler, via email, directed the Center to “contact@bigskygrowth.org” — bigskygrowth.org is a Web domain name that was created Friday, shortly after the public relations firm was contacted by the Center, according to a website registry report.

An unattributed reply came back that stated: “Thank you for your questions.  It is the organization’s policy to not publicly comment on its advocacy or budget.”

In 2010 the group, formerly known as “Economy Forward”  spent $175,000 on television ads for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

Corruption Defines Montana’s 2012 Elections

Montana’s 2012 elections will go down in history–but not in a good way. Rather, this cycle will be remembered for corruption, lies, deceptive ads, illegal donations, apparent illegal coordination with third-party groups, and secret corporate money.

The season was kicked off with TEA Party Republican legislator Jason Priest secretive “Montana Growth Network” buying the Supreme Court race for TEA Party judge Laurie McKinnon. Priest’s shadow group spent more on one saturation mailing then the conservative candidate he was backing had raised for her entire campaign.

McKinnon, who dog whistled at Lincoln Reagan dinners across Montana about “judicial activism,” “strict constructionist” and other conservative buzzwords, was able to defeat the leading candidate Elizabeth Best in the primary–in spite of reports of alleged Judicial Code of Ethics violations reported in Montana papers across the state.   Priest’s  “Montana Growth Network” is thought to be one of the American Traditions Partnership’s many spinoffs.

Indeed no group has been more insidious than American Traditions Partnership in corrupting Montana’s elections.  ATP’s launched it’s biggest attack on Steve Bullock.  It mailed a fake newspaper to hundreds of thousands of Montanans depicting Bullock in a line-up of sex offenders.

In a brilliant piece of investigative journalism, the PBS show Frontline has revealed the seedy underbelly of secret money in Montana’s elections, with a full-hour expose of Montana politics and this secretive right-wing group.  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 apparent violation of the law, the Associated Press reports today.

ATP even sent mailers impersonating unions– using the unions’ logos–to attack local candidates that the unions have actually endorsed.

ATP wasn’t alone, unknown corporate groups dumped half a million dollars in illegal into Rick Hill’s campaign coffers, forcing a  judge to issue a restraining order against Hill to stop him from spending the illegal cash.  The Montana GOP claims the donation came from the Republican Governor’s Association, but shortly before the RGA sent the dough to the Montana GOP, that an entity calling itself the  ”Montana Law Foundation” sent $200,000 the the RGA. There’s only one reason that a fake Montana group would donate to the RGA instead of the Montana Republican Party and that’s to hide the donation’s source.

Tim Fox, the Montana Republican lunatic who is running for attorney general despite having never done anything other than defend drunk drivers and call for rape victims to have the rapists’ babies, got some national Republican donors to buy $700,000 of TV advertising on his behalf.  Fox Fox refused to reveal his true extremists beliefs.   Instead, he hid behind the hundreds of thousands of dollars in advertising that his corporate bosses– including the Koch brothers, the insurance industry and the cigarette companies put up to hide the truth.

Montana’s U.S. Senate race has also drawn a deluge of dark money aimed at defeating Jon Tester and replacing him with scandal-plagued extremist Dennis Rehberg.

Tonight, Montana citizens will find out whether ATP and groups like it will completely own our state and federal governments–using lies, deception, illegal activity and corporate money to install their candidates into office, from a P.O. Box, without ever revealing who their donors really are.