Tag Archives: Mike Miller

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.

TEA Party Republicans Outraged Over Bill to Require Consensual Sex

TEA Party Republicans are none too pleased about a bill proposed in California that would acknowledge that women aren’t consenting to have sex with you just simply by being alive and of a legal age. Senate Bill 967, the Student Safety from Sexual Assault bill ,would mean that silence or not protesting enough is no longer considered sexual consent on public college campuses.  It would mean women aren’t consenting to having sex with you by not saying no, rather they consent by saying yes.  The bill also requires colleges to implement comprehensive prevention programs addressing sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking. Most men want to have sex with women who want them back and would welcome rape and domestic violence prevention programs on campus.  But that didn’t stop TEA Party Republican Mike Miller from rushing to his Facebook page to express his outrage over the bill this week.  Miller also posted this article, which grossly distorts the purpose of the bill.  He calls the proposal an unwanted intrusion and “control” over “what happens in the bedroom.”

GOP candidate for legislature Joe Dooling of East Helena couldn’t resist joining in.  He responded that consensual sex “might be a bit of a ‘mood’ killer.”   To be sure, it could be that it is the domestic violence prevention programs that Dooling is calling a “‘mood’ killer.” Dooling doesn’t specify. Here’s the screenshot: Miller Facebook   Miller tweeted his shock at the proposal too, screenshot here. Miller Tweet   He’s claiming to be upset that the law would be “tough to enforce” while omitting that when women are considered to automatically consent to sex at any time, rape laws are tough to enforce. The feminist blog Sasha Said writes:

The [current] law presumes women old enough to legally have sex to exist in a state of perpetual consent. Unless you are able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt–a very high standard–that you did not consent to sex, the law assumes that whatever dude came along and forced himself on you had the right to do so.

The Montana Commissioner of Political Practices has called for Miller to be removed from the ballot for political practice violations.   Dooling will face the popular former democratic candidate and former state Rep. Jill Cohenour in the November.

Cowgirl Blog Primary Election Predictions

Here are my predictions for the most important races in the primary, the state legislative races.

While some bloggers have chosen to focus on the races that Lee Newspapers once deemed important, the real question on everyone’s mind is who will prevail tomorrow night- the TEA Party extremists or the main street republicans. Nowhere is this battle for the GOP hotter than where incumbents face challengers – from the left and from the right.

These are among the key bellwether races to watch tomorrow night.

Certainly I’ll also be watching what happens with the TEA Party’s fake Trojan horse dems, and what happens in primaries with MT Family Foundation recruits like Debra Lamm in Livingston, Marissa Stockton in East Helena, and Ronalee Skees vs. Frank Garner is the Flathead. The Flathead has several interesting legislative races to watch actually.

The Missoula County Sheriff’s race, where two fake democrats are running against T.J. McDermott, is important.  Tim Ravndal is running for County Commissioner in Broadwater County, which is frightening.  Another race to watch for those seeking to take the TEA Party’s pulse is the Gallatin County Commission race, where Don Seifert faces TEA Partier Barb Blum (backed by Roger Koopman).

Let me know if you agree or disagree and what other races you’re watching in the comments.

House   
HD 17 Rep. Christi Clark of Choteau vs. TEA Parter Jim Anderson. Anderson is the TEA Partier who hijacked the Teton County Republican Party’s annual shrimp peel fundraiser for the TEA Party. Local Republicans are not pleased. Prediction: ClarkScreen shot 2014-06-03 at 6.05.58 AM
HD 18 Rep. Rob Cook of Conrad vs. endorsed TEA Partier Ann MorrenPrediction: CookScreen shot 2014-06-03 at 6.05.58 AM
HD 19 Rep. Roger Hagan of Great Falls vs. TEA Partier Randy Pinocci, who is backed by Gary Marbut. Prediction: HaganScreen shot 2014-06-03 at 6.05.58 AM
HD 27 Rep. Roy Hollandsworth of Brady vs. right winger Darrold HutchinsonPrediction: HollandsworthScreen shot 2014-06-03 at 6.05.58 AM
HD 30 Rep. Ryan Osmundson of Buffalo/vs. Right-winger and 86-year-old Jim PaughPrediction: OsmundsonScreen shot 2014-06-03 at 6.05.58 AM
HD 40 Rep. Tom Berry vs. TEA Party winger Ray Gorman. Prediction: BerryScreen shot 2014-06-03 at 6.05.58 AM
HD 53 TEA Party wingut Rep. Sarah Laszloffy, age 20 of Laurel, who attended a school which teaches you how to bring people back from the dead.  No Joke.  TEApublican Rep. Sarah Laszloffy is an alum of the Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry. (She’s also the daughter of MT Family Foundation wackjob Jeff Laszloffy) vs. former long-time legislator Mark Noennig, well respected by the business community. Prediction: Toss-up.  Noennig can win this and voters would be much better represented by him, but papa bear Laszloffy is likely to pull out all the stops to keep his pawn daughter in office.Screen shot 2014-06-03 at 6.05.58 AM
HD 71 In Madison County, Rep. Ray Shaw vs. Birther Bob Wagner, a former Representative infamous for losing economic development for his district and making an ass of himself on national television. Voters already ousted Wagner in favor of Shaw once. Prediction: ShawScreen shot 2014-06-03 at 6.05.58 AM
HD 72 Rep. Jeff Wellborn of Dillan vs. TEA Party college Republican Brooke ErbPrediction: WellbornScreen shot 2014-06-03 at 6.05.58 AM
HD 80 Rep. Mike Miller vs. Patrick Johnson/Ron Vandevendor. Prediction: Miller, since not enough Montanans will have heard of his political practices shennanigans.  Miller is being challenged from the left by Patrick Johnson. If Miller is elected, the primary election won’t actually decided the final outcome, because Miller faces being thrown off the ballot for political practices violations. So does Art Wittich, and so do others.Screen shot 2014-06-03 at 6.05.58 AM
HD 92 David “Doc” Moore of Missoula vs. Larry Dunham Prediction: MooreScreen shot 2014-06-03 at 6.05.58 AM
HD 93 Rep. Dan Salomon of Ronan vs. challenger Frank Delgado. Frank Delgado is a responsible Main Street republican challenging GOPer Salomon from the left in a seat the dems will likely take back in November. Prediction: SalomonScreen shot 2014-06-03 at 6.05.58 AM
HD 99 Rep. Ed Greef of Stevensville faces pro-business, pro-economic development non-nutjob Russ Vogel.  Prediction: GreefScreen shot 2014-06-03 at 6.05.58 AM

 

Senate  
SD 4 Former Kalispell Mayor Tammy Fisher vs. Rep.  Mark Blasdel of Kalispell. The race is hotly contested. Prediction:  Blasdel is an inferior pick and a right-winger and Fisher is a pro-business Republican, but the power of incumbency is strong. Blasdel has raised more money. This is an open seat.  However, Blasdel was an extreme right legislative leader in the house last session, and faces a primary from the more rational wing of the party. Would love to be wrong on this one.Screen shot 2014-06-03 at 6.05.58 AM
SD 9 Sen. Llew Jones/vs. TEA Party tax dodger Joe Large in Toole, Pondera and Glacier Counties. Prediction: JonesScreen shot 2014-06-03 at 6.05.58 AM
SD 14 Anti-education lobbyist Rep. Kris Hansen of Havre is now running for Senate against Carl Mattson of Chester.   Mattson is the superior candidate.  He doesn’t favor using your tax dollars to subsidize private sectarian schools.  Hansen has been paid to promote that terrible idea. Prediction:  HansenScreen shot 2014-06-03 at 6.05.58 AM
SD 20 Rep. Duane Ankney (east of Billings) vs. TEA Party booster clubber Barry Usher  of Colstrip Prediction: AnkneyScreen shot 2014-06-03 at 6.05.58 AM
SD 29 Right-winger birther Rep. Joanne Blyton of Red Lodge vs. Ultra nutjob and imbecile extraordinaire Rep. David Howard. Howard is a man who has, somewhat obsessively, devoted his Facebook page to criticizing gay sex. So of course, the GOP picked to lead the Children and Families legislative committee last session. Howard will face off against Red Lodge Republican Joanne Blyton. Blyton is a birther who actually voted for Birther Bob’s birther bill. (You can see a pdf of HB 205, the birther bill, vote here.) Yes, that’s the same bill that later made the Montana Legislature famous on CNN.   Prediction: Tossup.  This is also an open seat, but is included here because both Blyton and Howard served in the House.Screen shot 2014-06-03 at 6.05.58 AM
SD 34 Rep. Gordon Vance vs. Rep. Ted Washburn both of Bozeman. One of the most bloody GOP primary battles of the year.  Gordon Vance is the TEA Party nutjob who vote to conduct all state business in gold.  Vance and is trying to brutally attack paint Washburn as a liberal and RINO.  Problem is, Washburn is anything but. Washburn is under investigation for having been caught up in the Meth House Scandal, in which documents found at a meth house in Colorado were found to implicate certain GOP lawmakers for illegally coordinating with a dark money group, the American Tradition Partnership.  Washburn also is the author of the famous bill to legalize hunting with silencers.  It made the venerated2011 Montana Nutjob Bills list first published at Cowgirl Blog, and Washburn brought back the bill in 2013.   Washburn has also called for what is essentially a poll tax, a bill that would allow only taxpayers to vote (poor people often don’t have a taxable income, nor, for that matter, do many farmers and ranchers).  And he has often been the lead sponsor of bills that would make it more difficult for people to register to vote, especially if those people are likely to be democrats. Prediction: TossupScreen shot 2014-06-03 at 6.05.58 AM
SD 43 Sen. Scott Boulanger of Darby (appointed, not elected)  vs. Rep. Pat Connell.Sen. Scott Boulanger R-Darby loves being pictured with the  infamous bullet-ridden Obama outhouse.  He’s running in a GOP primary against Rep. Pat Connell. Boulanger was one of ten Republicans who actually voted to take freedoms away from Montanans by keeping being gay an imprisonable offense in Montana.     Voters in the area have already picked Pat Connell over Boulanger once before, when Boulanger ran for house in 2012. Boulanger lost, and the only reason he’s in office now is because he was appointed by the Ravalli County Republican Central Committee after another legislator was elected to the Public Service Commission. Prediction: ConnellScreen shot 2014-06-03 at 6.05.58 AM
 SD 27  Another open seat where a right winger from the House faces a pro-business wing challenger.  TEA Partier Cary Smith of Billings faces former legislator and dentist Don Roberts.  Prediction: TossupScreen shot 2014-06-03 at 6.05.58 AM

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

Off Message?

Ever since the Montana Republican Party’s ideology went so far askew it caused several of its own members to start voting independently during the 2013 legislative session, the Montana GOP has been busy trying to put some spin on the problem.

Former GOP Speaker of the House Mike Millburn is the latest to do so with a guest opinion in the Great Falls Tribune, saying that the GOP must “stay the course” on its hard-right ideology.   Milburn says the real problem is that the GOP’s message “just needs to be refined.”

It’s easy to see why the “message” theory is so appealing to Republicans.  It allows them to tell themselves that they need not be concerned that most people disagree with their ideology.    It allows them to believe that if they just had better polls and slicker advertising all of their problems would be solved.

But while Republicans think their problem is one of message rather than bad policies, a look at recent polls shows the public does not share that view.

By 47 percent to 22 percent, Americans say they disagree with the GOP’s approach to social and cultural issues,  according to a NBC/WSJ poll.  Polls also show that people think the GOP’s policies are indeed too extreme:

a majority of Americans (53 percent) say the Republicans’ problem is that they are overly conservative and unconcerned “with the welfare of the people, particularly those in the lower and middle income levels.”

Americans say Democrats are doing a better job than Republicans. They say health care is important and that cost is a barrier to getting it.

So if the GOP wants to stop losing votes and voters, the answer isn’t that yet another round of road show tours in which they repeat the phrase “jobs for Montana” ad nauseam when they voted to block 14,000 Montana jobs just last session.   They should listen to voters instead of right-wing think tanks.   They should start funding public school classrooms and improving wages and health care for working people instead of focusing on corporate welfare and conspiracy theories.

Milburn also advises Republicans to stop the debilitating race to the bottom that the party has seen recently, with every conservative candidate and officeholder trying to prove how conservative they are, and trying to prove that they are more conservative than their colleagues.  Milburn says the GOP is “a big tent” open to all Republicans.  He might be hopeful that the GOP could be such a tent, but his viewpoint is a minority one.   The right-wing has lately been dictating the course of the GOP, and there is no sign of anything changing.

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.

 

Since the Dawn of Time

The Helena City Commission  has voted unanimously to give its preliminary approval to a non-discrimination ordinance they’ve been considering for some time.  In case you missed the hearing, there were some really bizarre statements made in opposition to the idea.

To give you the flavor of who’s against ending discrimination, check out the opposition’s website.  The main argument appears to be that “our values have not changed since the dawn of time” and so we should not be changing a Helena city ordinance either.

It’s hard to calculate the myriad of ways in which this premise is flawed. There are many traditional beliefs have gone by the wayside “since the dawn of time”–and many more have been added.  For example, 14th century dwellers valued burning cats, believing they were Satan’s minions.  With all the cat burning, rats ran rampant– spreading the bubonic plague which killed 200 million people. So that value’s out.

The use of toilet paper wasn’t even around at “the dawn of time” to be valued, yet our beliefs have evolved so that TP it is now widely supported–though perhaps not by everybody if the website’s creator is to be believed.  And slavery, much used in biblical times, is now thankfully illegal. Many kinds of discrimination are now illegal too — though there is still more work to be done.

As to who is behind the opposition site, this man is already taking credit for it, as you can see from this screenshot:

The author, who calls himself only “Jim,” says he’s from Tennessee and is a teacher at an unaccredited local religious school. This is probably Helena Christian School or Last Chance Academy.  In his spare time, he hunts with Rep. Mike Miller (R-HD 84).

Jim says he attended a theological seminary but appears to have dropped out saying he “found that it wasn’t “theological” enough.”   Among the problems Jim found with the the theological school was that it had an Office of Women’s Concerns:

“as if the Bible doesn’t say enough against the role of women’s general LEADERSHIP over the local church.”

He believes that environmentalists are “evil” and that environmentalism is “a religion of human sacrifice.”  As proof of this, Jim explains that the ban on the carcinogenic chemical pesticide DDT was a government conspiracy to “exterminate” more people with malaria than Mao, Stalin, and Hitler killed combined.

If you live in Helena,  and do not want these views incorporated into your city government, do not dispair. Send an email in support of the ordinance and against a bizarre amendment (more on that later) to the city commission at publiccomments@helenamt.gov   The idea will have its next hearing on December 17th.

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.