HELENA – A dark money political organization that spent hundreds of thousands of dollars during the 2012 election to support conservative candidates for office has settled a lawsuit accusing it of violating Montana’s campaign finance laws. The Montana Growth Network, headed by former Red Lodge Republican state Sen. Jason Priest, agreed to pay a $30,000 fine to the state Commissioner of Political Practices under the terms of the settlement.
According to a report by the non-partisan campaign finance watchdog group National Institute for Money in State Politics, Texas fracking billionaire brothers Dan and Farris Wilks and their spouses gave a collective total of $51,040 to more than 70 GOP legislative candidates in 2012. According to the report, in most instances they gave the maximum amount.
While rummaging around in the archives at the Montana Historical Society yesterday I came across a Nov. 1978 headline in the Great Falls Tribune that caught my attention: The 1978 headline juxtaposed with what I watched last night on Montana PBS was a stark reminder of money’s dramatic influence our politics today .
In case you haven’t seen it yet, this ProPublica/Frontline report investigating the shadowy “dark money” group American Tradition Partnership is causing quite a stir in Big Sky Country this morning (emphases mine): The boxes landed in the office of Montana investigators in March 2011. Found in a meth house in Colorado, they were somewhat of a mystery, holding files on 23 conservative candidates in state races in Montana.
Editor’s note: For those who are interested in reading more about this case I included the complete text from today’s story in the Great Falls Tribune with links to relevant source material. Is Montana Attorney General Steve Bullock ignoring the best possible challenge to the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling?
Ari Berman, of The Nation, just published a scathing 3,700-word analysis on the role Montana’s own Jim Messina plays in driving President Barack Obama’s political agenda and reelection campaign. Messina, of course, was Sen. Max Baucus’ chief of staff until he left to help run Obama’s successful 2008 presidential campaign.