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.

Montana Doesn’t Need Florida to Tell Us What We Need

Sandy Welch Facebook Profile HeadshotGOP candidate for state superintendent is touting an unfortunate endorsement today on the TEA Party conspiracy blog PolyMontana.

Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush says he ran Florida schools “using some of the same ideas that Sandy is proposing.”  With a vote for Welch, says Jeb, Montana can be “just like Florida.”

Problem is, these ideas ran Florida schools into the toilet.

Montana  eighth-graders have the highest science and reading scores in the nation, while Florida eighth-graders ranked 30th and 31st.   In math, Montana eighth-graders have the second highest scores in the nation.  Florida ranks 37th.

Perhaps if Welch can get the TEA Partiers to take down the blog post soon some of the damage can be mitigated.

GOP Candidate Appears in Saucy Devil Costume on Newscast

Sandy Welch Official Facebook Profile PicThe devil is in the details, as the old saying goes.

GOP candidate for State School Superintendent Sandy Welch has adopted a creative new strategy to come across as more friendly, hip, and fun.

A new photo depicts the candidate in a what looks like a saucy devil costume, complete with horns and a lacy top.  The photo first appeared on the candidates Facebook page (left) and has since made an appearance in the television coverage of a recent education debate.


Here’s the video:


Until now, the Welch campaign has faced an uphill battle in many respects. First, the candidate is relatively unknown, having never held elective office. Second, Welch has come across as a little bit angry and negative in the past after dumping on Montana public school classrooms because she thought it would help her politically.

Those days are over. Image, as they say, is everything.

At this time, it is not clear with the saucy devil is a is a permanent addition to the campaign image or a special Halloween themed release.  Kudos to Welch are in order for her creativity and willingness to think outside the box.

Education Debate Recap

Sandy Welch Official Facebook Profile PicTonight, the candidates for Montana’s chief state school official debated in Helena. The debate, which was broadcast live on the Northern Broadcasting Network, was a clear win for Denise Juneau.

The candidates differed on many issues: notably, using your tax dollars to subsidize private schools.  Juneau opposes it, as do most Montanans. Welch supports it.

Juneau ran on her record of Montana’s kids scoring among the top ten states in the nation for reading, math, and science.  Welch said she thought some changes to “process” were in order, but didn’t offer specifics.

The candidates also differ vastly in experience.  Juneau has a post-secondary degree from Harvard in education and a law degree from U of M, and has worked in education in Montana and as a teacher her entire life.

On the other hand, Welch is a transplant from California who lacks familiarity and experience with local education concerns.  When asked what qualifications she had to advocate for education in Montana, Welch cited—I kid you not—her work as a legislative staffer in the infamous Bat Crap secession session of 2011.  Not something I would admit in public–even if I were one of the 18-year-old college Republicans who typically fill these positions.

The AP has a recap of the debate online here.

Next Debate Tuesday in Helena

Montana’s superintendent of public instruction Denise Juneau (D) and challenger Sandy Welch (R-TEA) will debate here in Helena on Tuesday Sept. 25 at 6:30 p.m. at the Gateway Center.

Welch has been aptly called “the Derek Skees of education” (the comparison extends to spelling errors) and has even been compared to Skees by the infamous TEA Partier Tim Ravndal.

To be sure, there is one difference between Skees and Welch.  Welch is a transplant from California while Skees hails from Florida.  Most recently Ravndal linked the two in a bizarre post about the supposed need to break the collaboration between Montana PBS and public radio stations. Must be a conspiracy in there somewhere. Ravndal is one of Welch’s biggest fans.

Juneau meanwhile has launched an innovative series of reforms to increase Montana’s high school graduation rate that is popular with parents, unions, and the business community alike–no small feat. So this will be a very interesting debate.

Juneau/Welch Debate
6:30 p.m.
Tuesday, September 25
Gateway Center in Helena (map)

Judy Martz Says the War on Women is “Made Up”

The GOP’s War on Women is “something fictitious and made up,” former Governor Judy Martz told a group of Havre Republicans yesterday.  The Havre Daily News has the story on the latest  ludicrous statement from the former Republican governor.

Martz is infamous for diminishing the dangers of domestic violence and belittling the women who are its victims. In a January, 2001 speech to an audience of 650 people in Butte, Martz said:

“My husband has never battered me, but then again, I’ve never given him a reason to.”

Besides Martz, the dream team that Republicans assembed to convince us that there is no War on Women included: TEA Party legislators Rep. Wendy Warburton and Kris Hansen of Havre, candidate for state school superintendent Sandy Welch, and Ronalee Skees. Ronalee is the wife of TEA Party poster boy Rep. Derek Skees, who is running for state auditor.

I can’t think of a worse group of women to make the claim that women’s rights aren’t under attack.  These GOPers exemplify the efforts to restrict women’s rights.  Each  has either introduced anti-women legislation or championed the War on Women through work with right-wing causes.

Definitely do not miss reading this entire article.  The Martz quotes alone are mind-bogglingly stupid. There’s even a reference to something Martz calls “meanness ears.”

But Martz’s loony, oddly-worded statements are only the beginning.  Superintendent of Public Instruction candidate Sandy Welch, who is a transplant from California, told the Havre Republicans of her belief that there is no glass ceiling. Rather, says Welch, women just “weren’t going into positions that would advance them to leadership” by choice.  Even Welch’s idol Sarah Palin talked about the importance of breaking the glass ceiling. Perhaps Welch doesn’t read the paper.

And let’s not forget Wendy Warburton’s explanation for the lack of GOP women candidates. Warburton said a couple of years back, “the biggest reason that more women who are Republicans don’t get into politics is because we are the pro-family party” and are home raising kids like the women of the pro-family party should be.

Martz and crew would have us believe that the GOP isn’t really pushing bills to take away women’s rights–well, maybe just a little:

“The issues that … they are beating us up on are just plain not coming up, ” she said. “When you go to (legislative) session there will be some bills that will speak to it, but very, very few. ”

In reality, Montana Republicans pushed a record number of anti-woman bills during  the last session that would have decimated women’s reproductive rights, blocked women’s health care access, and legalized discrimination against women in insurance pricing–all of which were vetoed by Governor Schweitzer.  A recent report even found that the 2011 Legislative Session “brought the most antichoice bills introduced in the twenty-four years NARAL Pro-Choice Montana has been tracking choice-related votes at the Capitol.”

Martz plans to tour the state with this message on behalf of her fellow Republicans.