Tag Archives: Sandy Welch

The Shoe Falls

A complaint was filed by a government watchdog organization against James Bopp, the architect of Citizens United  yesterday.  Citizens for Ethics and Responsibility in Washington filed a whistleblowers complaint against Bopp and his organization, the “James Madison Center for Free Speech.” The complaint alleges he diverted nearly all of the funds from the non-profit to his own law firm in violation of prohibitions against using charitable organizations for private inurement and private benefit.  

As the Wall Street Journal reports,

 As a result, JMCFS and the Bopp Law Firm now owe the IRS more than $6.2 million in back taxes. Further, by repeatedly signing and submitting to the IRS inaccurate tax forms, Mr. Bopp may have made false statements in violation of federal criminal law.

James Bopp was one of the original lawyers for Citizens United, the legal challenge led to the landmark 2010 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that said corporations are people and can spend money to influence elections.

Besides deregulating the nation’s campaign finances, Bopp has been up to no good in Montana too.

In 2010, the Helena IR reported that the Bopp’s firm filed the lawsuit on behalf of Jennifer Olsen and the Billings “Montana Shrugged” TEA Party faction is suing the state to invalidate Montana transparency laws and political reporting requirements. Olson was the Chair the Billings GOP Republican Party who was caught posting a photo of a device designed to trap president Obama by luring him with a watermelon in February. She did not seek re-election after the post became public.

And in 2012, the Billings Gazette reported, Bopp and his firm were listed as lead counsel for the failed recount effort of Republican Office of Public Instruction candidate Sandy Welch.

 

If at First You Don’t Succeed

If at first you don’t succeed, claim the rules don’t apply to you.

That’s what the Montana Republican Party tried to do this week.  The party which formerly claimed to stand for fiscal responsibility had hoped to force taxpayers to cough up the cash for a recount in the state superintendent race.  In spite of the fact that their candidate had lost by too great a margin to qualify for a taxpayer funded recount, they went to court.

Sandy Welch, the GOP candidate, asked a judge to grant her an exception to the rules.  She thought fancy out-of-state lawyers could convince a judge that there were special circumstances which would justify making you and me pay for her increasingly futile pursuit her own political ambitions.

Republicans also probably wanted the recount it in the news while they try to pass new laws that restrict voting rights, like same day registration, early voting, mail voting, etc. They were hoping they could use your money to create a climate for passing voter suppression laws in Montana.

Brief grinch meme plagued Welch campaignWelch had tried to force the recount to be conducted right before the Christmas holiday–much to the dismay of county officials and their employees.  The grinch-like demand wasn’t lost on internet pranksters, prompting a brief grinch mini-meme of sorts with pics like this making the rounds.

Thankfully, the GOP failed on both accounts.  A judge said they had to live by the same rules as everyone else and must pay for the recount.

But when it came time to put up the money, Welch said she didn’t actually have it–revealing some inconsistencies with her previous statements.

First, Welch had said that the national republican party would pay for the recount, but when it came time to pay the money wasn’t there.  The national Republicans refused to comment.

The GOP wouldn’t say how much they had raised, if anything.  And instead of accepting the fact that the voters decided against the right-wing education policies the GOP was peddling, they tried to blame the Secretary of State for Welch’s loss.

There were other inconsistencies in Welch’s statements.  As the Billings Gazette reported. “Welch said [Citizens United attorney James Bopp] is the lawyer hired by the Republican National Committee to work on the case, but another attorney from his firm, Anita Woudenberg, delivered arguments Friday.”

Perhaps all this talk of national money and famous lawyers was Welch was trying to color her race with some kind of national importance.  Whatever the reason, somebody wasn’t telling the truth. Either that or intelligent life is just not found on this particular planet.

Sandy Welch, and the Ruse

The GOP is asking for a recount in the state superintendent’s race, for what appears to be part of a high-intensity push to create a climate for passing voter suppression laws in Montana.

The Associated Press reported this week that the national Republican Party gave Sandy Welch (who ran against popular dem Denise Juneau) $100,000 to pay for the recount and another $100,000 to hire GOP lawyer behind Citizens United, James Bopp to sue for a recount (one she can’t win).

Bopp is an infamous national GOP lawyer who has been called “Public enemy No. 1 for fair elections,” and has worked for dozens of extreme-right groups.  He appeared on the recent Frontline expose of dark money groups in Montana, saying he is working to eliminate or significantly loosen campaign spending limits and to eliminate donor-name-reporting requirements.

Here’s what’s odd: Welch can get a recount without her costly lawsuit, for a $100,000.  She is allowed by law to buy a recount, in essence.   But she admitted yesterday that she’s now invested $200,000, half on the fancy lawyer and lawsuit, and half on the recount cost.   In the lawsuit, she is asking to get her recount cost refunded if she wins. But that still leaves a grand total investment of $100,000.  So why the lawsuit?

Because the GOP wants it in the air, while they try to pass new laws that restrict voting rights, like same day registration, early voting, mail voting, etc

The GOP’s future, given the trends, is looking bleak.  Not just a more liberal electorate, but a wild gang of libertarian voters defecting at a rate of anywhere from 4 to 7 percent in statewide elections.   The Rs are now seeing that they must find a way to balance the scale.  So they will try to minimize votes from elderly, Indians, poor, young and other voting blocks.

To do that, they’ll need to convince the legislature that there were “irregularities.”  Part of this will involve deceiving the press and the public that the last election was fraught with problems and “fraud.” Hence the $100,000 lawyer.

As the Billings Gazette reports, Welch already alleges

numerous examples of alleged vote-counting errors across the state on Nov. 6, including ballots jamming in electronic counting machines, re-marking of ballots that were run through the machines multiple times, failure to give voters new ballots to replace spoiled ballots, and ballots that weren’t officially stamped.

The recount will allow the GOP to paw through every single ballot cast, to find examples of what they’ll call “fraud.”

Perhaps the Montana GOP is taking a cue from Florida Republicans, who admitted last week that the voting restrictions they passed after the 2008 elections were specifically designed to keep Democratic turnout low:

Wayne Bertsch, who handles local and legislative races for Republicans, said he knew targeting Democrats was the goal[....]

Another GOP consultant, who did not want to be named, also confirmed that influential consultants to the Republican Party of Florida were intent on beating back Democratic turnout in early voting after 2008.

[...]A GOP consultant who asked to remain anonymous out of fear of retribution said black voters were a concern. “I know that the cutting out of the Sunday before Election Day was one of their targets only because that’s a big day when the black churches organize themselves,” he said.

 

Recount Charade

The Billings Gazette is reporting today that Montana GOP will put up $115,000 dollars to recount a race it has no chance of winning.

Word on the street is that the recount is a ruse to allow the GOP to continue to “investigate” the supposed problem of too many people voting in Yellowstone County.   Voter suppression will be a first order of business for the new legislature. So, the GOP will use the recount as an occasion to rant in the press about how too many people voting caused long lines and delays in vote counts in certain major cities–to argue that liberalized voting rules have caused the problem.

GOP-er Sandy Welch is down over 2,000 votes, so Sandy Welch’s chances of overturning Denise Juneau’s victory are zero to none. To my knowledge, a recount has never overturned the results of a statewide race–even when the results were much closer than the Juneau/Welch contest.

The last time a statewide races was recounted was the 2000 democratic secretary of state primary.  Linda McCulloch.  As the Missoulian reported:

McCulloch nipped fellow challenger Gail Gray, 31,634 to 31,573 in the statewide recount. Although Gray picked up 65 misplaced votes in the recount, McCulloch gained 62. McCulloch’s final tally was 61 votes ahead of Gray, down from 64 votes in the original count. The third Democratic contestant, Mike Schwinden, saw his total rise 26 votes to 28,765.

The most recent recount before this was in 1980.

It involved Initiative 84, a measure to control disposal of uranium ore tailings. The original count showed 172,796 in favor to 172,173 against. The recount put the total at 172,909 to 172,493, preserving the initiative’s passage.
 And so, you can see that a recount will not overturn the results of this race.  But overturning the result is not the reason for the recount.

Too stupid to know how to organize a get-out-the-vote effort like Democrats with technology, sophistication and smarts, Republicans in Montana (and nationally) are now complaining about the fact that “too many people were voting.” They’re calling for an end to election day registration and a shrinking of early vote options.

For a preview of how this charade will play out in Montana,  look how the Republicans are using the Allen West recount in Florida to peddle the voter fraud myth. The GOP thinks that if it’s harder to vote, they will gain an advantage.  They will use this recount charade to try to get support for rolling back early voting, same day registration, etc.

And of course American Traditions Partnership will be all for this.  ATP attorney Jim Brown is in on the ruse.  He told Sandy Welch’s campaign manager that he liked their chances of winning the recount.

People in Montana are voting in some of the highest numbers in the state’s history.  They are engaged, and the GOP doesn’t like that.  Republicans did better when more voters were apathetic, and so they want to return to those glory days.

Early voting must remain; vote by mail must increase; and same day registration must remain, because it is an important way of allowing people to vote when they have moved addresses but there’s a glitch in the system, for whatever reason, that hasn’t recorded it properly. In the past, these folks have been turned away.  Now with same day registration, they can vote.

Truth is, Republicans lost the big statewide races for three basic reasons, which are 1) they had inferior statewide candidates, 2) the Republican brand is in the toilet, thanks in large part to the Tea Party, and 3) in two races they gave away an average of 5 points to the libertarian candidate.

Had there been a third party candidate in the Juneau race, Welch would have already faded from view.  The contest is the only statewide race in which the democratic candidate, Denise Juneau, received more than 50% of the vote against a real opponent.

Something Fishy

Why is Republican legislative candidate Liz Bangerter is using her campaign account to make donations in her husbands name?

Don Pogreba at Intelligent Discontent recently took a look into Bangerter’s campaign finace report and found some irregularities.  Bangerter’s report shows her campaign giving $620 to Republican Sandy Welch for State Superintendent, but there is no donation of $620 from the Bangerter campaign listed on Welch’s report:

 Instead, there are two individual donations from the Bangerter family, one for $310 from Elizabeth Bangerter and another for $310 from Carl Bangerter.

The contribution limit for this race is $310, not $620.  So it looks like one of these two campaigns has tried to disguise Bangerter’s campaign’s donation as two donations from Bangerter and her husband to make it appear to be within the legal limits.