Dark, Hidden, Secret OR Open and Transparent?
Posted by Bill Mac (+69) 5 years ago
How did or will your elected representative vote
Senate-endorsed campaign finance bill aimed at 'dark money'
HELENA — A bipartisan coalition in the Montana Senate voted Thursday to pass a major campaign finance overhaul aimed at requiring so-called “dark money” groups to disclose their donors and how they spend money.
Senators voted 28-22 in favor of Senate Bill 289, by Sen. Duane Ankney, R-Colstrip, on behalf of Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock. It faces a final Senate vote Friday before moving to the House.
All 21 Senate Democrats voted for the bill, joined by seven Republicans — Sens. Ankney, Taylor Brown of Huntley, Ed Buttrey of Great Falls, Pat Connell of Hamilton, Llew Jones of Conrad, Rick Ripley of Wolf Creek and Bruce Tutvedt of Kalispell. Some of them have been victims of dark-money attacks in campaigns.
The bill would fight “dark money” by requiring all political organizations to fully disclose who’s donating money to their groups and how they are spending it in campaigns. Dark money is campaign spending by groups that don’t publicly report their donors or their spending.
Senators said these dark-money groups have been attacking legislative candidates for the past four election cycles without disclosing who is providing their money and where they are spending it.
“Basically, what this bill does is it says if you’re going to contribute to a campaign, you’re going to report,” Ankney said. “You get a contribution from your friend and neighbor, he’s required to give you his name, his address and his occupation. So why would people from out-of-state or in the shadows be any different?”

Some Republicans said the bill would have chilling effects on citizens of Montana and require groups to which they belong to file campaign reports.
Sen. Dee Brown, R-Hungry Horse, called the bill “a direct assault on the right to privacy.”
She said groups like associations and unions would have to disclose the names of their members, although others said that was not the case.
“We are saying to the citizens of Montana you don’t have the right to contribute to the causes you believe in,” said Sen. Eric Moore, R-Miles City, adding: “This bill has very little benefit and disastrous consequences to liberty and privacy."


Republican Senator Jones said the bill has nothing to do with groups like the Montana Stockgrowers Association or similar trade associations being forced to disclose members’ names.
“This is about those that truly intend to hide in the cloak of darkness,” he said. “This is a night we should not go quietly into.”
Montana elections have changed in the past decade, Jones said, with voters buried in attack mailers and advertisements from groups, and “we can’t truly determine who is paying the freight.”
Senate Minority Leader Jon Sesso, D-Butte, supported the bill.
“The business of dark money is insidious in our political process,” Sesso said. “If you know your enemy, you have a fighting chance. But if you don’t know who you’re fighting, you don’t have a fighting chance.”
Ankney closed for his bill by suggesting some of the criticism of the bill was not accurate.
“This ain’t gong to cut down the mudslinger,” he said, but it would allow him to find out who’s slinging mud and who finances these groups.
In reference to some of the criticism of the bill, Ankney said, “I see the fox saying, ‘Oh, leave the chicken house door open, because I won’t come in.’ That doesn’t work.”
Gazette opinion: A bipartisan push for Montana campaign transparency
When the U.S. Supreme Court opened the floodgates to virtually unlimited political spending, the court indicated that big money could talk all it wants because voters would still know who was doing the talking.
That’s not how elections are going.
The amount of money spent to influence Montana elections has outstripped citizens’ ability to learn who is contributing to the spending.
Gov. Steve Bullock and Sen. Duane Ankney, R-Colstrip, have teamed up to help Montanans shed more light on the campaign finance deluge.
The Montana Disclose Act, Senate Bill 289, aims to close loopholes that some groups have used in attempts to spend large amounts of money to influence Montana elections without revealing the identity of their donors. This dark money almost always funds attack ads and other negative campaigning.
It isn’t surprising that the Democratic governor teamed up with the Republican senator to promote campaign transparency. Both Democrats and Republicans have been targeted by out-of-state groups and by Montana affiliates who don’t want to tell the public who they really represent.
Ankney, Bullock and many other Montanans seeking public office, have been targeted by groups that don’t want to reveal their funding sources. Ankney was blasted with a direct-mail smear campaign before the 2014 primary, an attack that he says his primary opponent had no part in. However, Ankney was forced to spend thousands of dollars on mailings to rebut the anonymous mudslinging.
SB289 would require virtually any group that spends money to support or oppose a candidate or ballot issue to report their donors and expenditures. Corporations and unions would all be held accountable.
“It calls these groups out and sheds some light on ’em,” Ankney explained. “I think Montanans want good elections. I don’t think they want out-of-state money in our elections.”
However SB289 won’t limit the money; instead, it will attempt to ensure disclosure so voters can make better informed decisions as they hear messages about candidates and ballot issues.
Ankney’s bill would require campaign finance reports for “electioneering communications” made within 60 days of when voting begins in any election. All groups that spend money to influence elections would be required to file reports, regardless of their federal tax status.
Ankney’s bill also has two other common-sense proposals that Legislative committee members already rejected once this session:
Authorizing the commissioner of political practices to require state district candidates (including legislative candidates) to file campaign finance reports electronically, as statewide candidates already are required to do.
Requiring all candidates to file campaign finance reports 35 days before an election because mail ballots go out 30 days before elections.
Electronic filing is a no-brainer. The electronic information is immediately available to the public online. Reports filed on paper forms must be scanned in page by page. Last year, it took about seven days to get paper reports online, Montana Commissioner of Political Practices Jonathan Motl said.
The idea of campaign report filing before mail ballots go out recognizes that more Montanans are choosing to use mail ballots and early voting. Those early voters deserve to have access to updated campaign spending information before they cast their ballots.
We call on all Montana lawmakers who want to preserve the integrity of Montana elections to vote for the Montana Disclose Act. Transparency is ever more vital as more dark, independent and out-of-state money pours into our elections.
Sure, another report is another task for the candidate or spending group. But campaign finance law’s purpose is to serve the public, not the candidates or the spenders. Electronic filing and reporting before ballots go out are definitely steps in the public’s interest.
Bullock, who has spent four years grappling with the Citizens United decision as attorney general and governor, said “Montana will be blazing the trail” if the Legislature approves the Disclose Act. It’s time hit the trail to have transparency in the 2016 elections.
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Posted by David Schott (+14981) 5 years ago
“We are saying to the citizens of Montana you don’t have the right to contribute to the causes you believe in,” said Sen. Eric Moore, R-Miles City, adding: “This bill has very little benefit and disastrous consequences to liberty and privacy."

Really?
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Posted by Joe Whalen (+619) 5 years ago
The senator is blowing smoke. I've read SB289 and nowhere does it prevent a Montana citizen from making a political contribution.

http://leg.mt.gov/bills/2...SB0289.pdf

More importantly, when he argues for "liberty and privacy" absolute, he is tone deaf to the history of corruption and abuse of political freedoms in Montana that gave rise to Article II, Section 8 of the Montana Constitution, aka the Right of Participation, which reads:

The public has the right to expect governmental agencies to afford
such reasonable opportunity to citizen participation in the
operation of the agencies prior to the final decision as may be
provided by law.


Only one other state constitution provides a similar safeguard. Even more to the point, Montana is one of three states adopting a unique "Right to Know" provision, which states:

No person shall be deprived of the right to examine documents or
to observe the deliberations of all public bodies or agencies of state
government and its subdivisions, except in cases in which the
demand of individual privacy clearly exceeds the merits of public
disclosure.


Now, ask yourself if you think that the individual privacy of two of the wealthiest men on the planet buying Montana's parliament of whores clearly exceeds the merits of the public disclosure of their contributions. Finally, let's not forget that SB289 was introduced by one of Eric's fellow Republicans in the Senate.
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Posted by Oddjob (+184) 5 years ago
Looks to me like SB 289 is going after 527 groups by trying to incorporate a description of what they do. The problem with this is, by legal interpretation it will cast a wide net over everything that isn't a 527. For example, formation of a "political committee" could require the entity to file a "disclosure".

SB 289 states

"(d) A political committee is not formed when a combination of two or more individuals or a person other

2 than an individual makes an election communication, an electioneering communication, or an independent

3 expenditure of $100 or less..."


Does this mean if I write a check to a candidate or qualified cause on a joint account for $101.00, my wife and I will have formed a "political committee"? Are we required to file reports?

It would appear so...

"25 election communication, an electioneering communication, or an independent expenditure shall file reports"

"Shall" file

State and Federal requirements will be in conflict..

"26 NEW SECTION Section 16. Reports to be filed regardless of tax status.
A person that makes an election communication, an electioneering
communication, or an independent expenditure shall file reports
required by this chapter regardless of the person's tax status under state or federal law."


Federal law does not require disclosure for qualified 527s, so after the State wastes endless $$$$ defending endless lawsuits on this mess, Federal law will probably trump State law again.

Definitions

"(47) "Support or oppose", including any variations of the term, means:

13 (a) using express words, including but not limited to"vote", "oppose", "support"
, "elect", "defeat", or

14 "reject", that call for the nomination, election, or defeat of one or more
clearly identified candidates, the election

15 or defeat of one or more political parties, or the passage or
defeat of one or more ballot issues submitted to voters

16 in an election;..."


After having become a "political committee" by my $101.00 contribution, would I be in wordspeak violation if I wrote a letter or made a speech "Supporting or opposing" (or using any variation of the terms) a candidate or qualified cause?

There's a lot of worms in this can, so Sen. Moore might have it nailed.

Oh, and one more thing. The largest contributor to 527s is George Soros and the biggest benefactor is the Democrat Party so I suspect SB 289 is nothing more than political posturing promoted by Bullock. When the evil Republicans vote it down, he will be able to blame them.
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Posted by Richard Bonine, Jr. (+14231) 5 years ago
"Oh, and one more thing. The largest contributor to 527s is George Soros and the biggest benefactor is the Democrat Party so I suspect SB 289 is nothing more than political posturing promoted by Bullock."

Care to provide a reference for that claim? George Soros is funding 527's in MT or the 527s he's funding affect MT politics?
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Posted by Bill Mac (+69) 5 years ago
ODDJOB WROTE:
SB 289 states

"(d) A political committee is not formed when a combination of two or more individuals or a person other

2 than an individual makes an election communication, an electioneering communication, or an independent

3 expenditure of $100 or less..."

Does this mean if I write a check to a candidate or qualified cause on a joint account for $101.00, my wife and I will have formed a "political committee"? Are we required to file reports?

[b}LISTEN TO THE DEBATE. THE ANSWER IS "NO". THE SAME ANSWER THAT WAS GIVEN AND VERIFIED DURING THE DEBATE ON THIS LEGISLATION[/b]....

ODDJOB WROTE: Federal law does not require disclosure for qualified 527s, so after the State wastes endless $$$$ defending endless lawsuits on this mess, Federal law will probably trump State law again.

INTERESTING THAT WHEN FAR RIGHT DEEMs THAT FEDERAL LAW APPEARS TO CONFLICT WITH STATE LAW THAT DOESN'T SUPPORT THEIR POINT OF VIEW THEY'RE ALL OUTSPOKEN CHAMPIONS OF STATE'S RIGHTS AND EITHER IGNORING OR OVER RULING FEDERAL LAW/RULE


ODDJOB WROTE: After having become a "political committee" by my $101.00 contribution, would I be in wordspeak violation if I wrote a letter or made a speech "Supporting or opposing" (or using any variation of the terms) a candidate or qualified cause?

AGAIN IF YOU DO MORE THAN CHERRY PICK THE LEGISLATION AND READ THE LOGS OR LISTEN TO THE DEBATE YOU'LL SEE THAT THIS LINE OF REASONING WAS SHOWN TO HAVE NO MERIT

ODDJOB WROTE: Oh, and one more thing. The largest contributor to 527s is George Soros and the biggest benefactor is the Democrat Party so I suspect SB 289 is nothing more than political posturing promoted by Bullock. When the evil Republicans vote it down, he will be able to blame them.

THAT'S THE WHOLE POINT OF THE LEGISLATION. IT'S NOT PARTISAN. IT'S ABOUT DIMINISHING THE HORRIBLE IMPACTS OF THE CITIZENS UNITED DECISION AND PROVIDING AT LEAST SOME LEVEL OF OPEN TRANSPARENCY BY INSURING THAT THOSE WHO USE THE FOX NEWS OR MSNBC METHODS OF PRESENTING FACTS "TRUTH" CAN'T HIDE IN A HOLE AND SPEW MISINFORMATION, HALF TRUTHS AND INNUENDO. NO MATTER WHICH POLITICAL CANDIDATES / IDEOLOGY THEY SUPPORT.
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Posted by Richard Bonine, Jr. (+14231) 5 years ago
Odds, job is cherry picking. And according to the International Brotherhood Of Remedial Endosperm Detatchers (iBORED), he has achieved Grand Wizard status.
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Posted by Oddjob (+184) 5 years ago
No, Bill. I didn't listen to the debate because I have no interest in getting my panties in a bunch over SB 289. The Bill is political posturing and I predict it will go nowhere. Politicians of all stripes will protect their donors anonymity, and 527s do that.

But, Mr. Mac, because I was bored (and up at 3:30AM), I did read the bill and it is full of the ambiguity that will meet it's design as a Lawyer Relief Act. If it does pass, it will just be more of your hard-earned tax $$$$ down a litigation rat hole.

Oh, by the way, your CAPSLOCK is stuck.

Richard

I'm sure there are other sources for this information on Soros, but here is one.

http://www.opensecrets.or...-brothers/

With the litany of Left wing groups he funds, I doubt that Montana has escaped his reach and his "dark money".

For as much hate-spewing as is done on the Koch brothers, I figured their donations to 527s would be much higher.
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Posted by Joe Whalen (+619) 5 years ago
Right site, wrong data. Even though 527s aren't specifically the target of the legislation as suggested, the article you posted is dated from three elections ago. Among 527 individual contributors, George Soros doesn't even break the top 25.

http://www.opensecrets.or...indivs.php
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Posted by Bob Netherton III (+2761) 5 years ago
I'll make it simple. Oddjob wants "Dark, Hidden, Secret".
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Posted by Bill Mac (+69) 5 years ago
Thanks OddJob.... used my dust off and got that cap lock problem all cleared up........
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Posted by Oddjob (+184) 5 years ago
Joe Whalen wrote:
Right site, wrong data. Even though 527s aren't specifically the target of the legislation as suggested, the article you posted is dated from three elections ago. Among 527 individual contributors, George Soros doesn't even break the top 25.

http://www.opensecrets.or...indivs.php


No, Joe, 527's are not specifically named in SB 289 but if you missed the point of it's intention, you need a lesson in reading comprehension. It's all about eliminating the language that protects the status of 527s.

As for Soros; why waste the money if you got what you wanted? In any case, I doubt that Soros has reformed. He continues to donate millions to 501s like Media Matters, MoveOn and Tides Foundation that do his dirty work directly and through their own favorite 527s.

Bob,

Look at the list Joe provided, then enlighten me on how the Democrats avoid the moral taint of using dark money 527s. Looks like pot, meet kettle.
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Posted by Bob Netherton III (+2761) 5 years ago
Read my post again, Oddjob. Where did I mention either party?

I'm reacting to the fact that you, apparently, think dark money is swell.

I'm also guessing you are a fan of Citizen's United.
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Posted by Oddjob (+184) 5 years ago
I think legislation like this is nothing more than an attempt to limit free speech and apparently the SCOTUS does as well. The only ones muzzled by this crap are the people with no money.
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Posted by Joe Whalen (+619) 5 years ago
I suppose it's no coincidence you wear the hat of a medicine show pitchman since you're trying to sell snake oil to people from the only state whose legislature once sold a seat on the U.S. Senate to a Butte miner. It didn't work then, it won't work now.

The key difference between William Clark and the Koch Bros., though, is that the Kochs' fund their efforts in part with U.S. Government subsidies, as our past governor explains:

"Recently, AFP (Americans For Prosperity) conducted a sham public meeting in Dillon to condemn extending health care coverage to people in Montana who make less than $16,000. AFP is bankrolled by the Koch brothers. The money spent to provide this health care would come 100 percent from the federal government, not the Montana state treasury.

The Koch brothers and some GOP allies here in Montana say that the federal government spends too much money. I agree. But they don’t want to start saving in the massive military budget, not the perks to Washington politicians, not to highway contractors or foreign governments or even subsidies to agriculture millionaires. The Koch brothers didn’t question health care provided to seniors, veterans or to Medicaid in other states representing two-thirds of the U.S. population.

Nope, the Koch brothers have decided that the No. 1 place to start saving money is right here in Montana with the health of our poorest people.
The two Koch brothers are worth $88 billion -- even more than Bill Gates or Warren Buffet according to Forbes Magazine. I have nothing against great wealth and I still hope to get there. The Koch brothers inherited a great fortune and grew it through the years with hard work, old-fashion smarts and government subsidies -- in part, ironically, near Dillon.

They have owned the more than 200,000-acre Matador Ranch near Dillon for more than 50 years. Well, not really owned the ranch, because about one-third of the ranch is owned by the state of Montana while the federal government owns around another third. The brothers rent the land from the state and the feds to graze their 2,000 head of cattle.

I am a rancher, so I crunched the numbers. The current rate charged for a cow unit on private land in Montana is about $25 per month. The Koch brothers have historically paid $6.50 per month on state of Montana land and $1.50 on federal land. So let’s add up the subsidy:

Assume one-third of the cattle stay on Koch land and two-thirds on government land. Cattle only graze nine months of the year, and eat hay the other three months. That’s a pretty normal Montana cattle operation.

Let’s look at it closer:
* First, the Montana subsidy -- 666 cattle multiplied by nine months, with a subsidy of $18.50 per month (a $25 private lease minus the state rate of $6.50), for a whopping Montana subsidy of $110,889 per year, times the 50 years of ownership, for a grand total of $5,544,450.
* Now, for the federal subsidy -- 666 cattle multiplied by nine months, with a subsidy of $23.50 per month (a $25 private lease minus the Federal rate of $1.50), for a federal subsidy of $140,859 per year, times 50 years -- a very generous $7,042,950.

Yup, the Koch brothers got some $12.5 million in government subsidies to pay 11 AFP staffers to intimidate and hoodwink the Montana Legislature into rejecting hundreds of millions of federal dollars annually for the health care of 70,000 Montana citizens, which would create thousands of Montana jobs, many at rural hospitals in areas represented by responsible Republican legislators.
The Affordable Care Act did some good things, like covering people with pre-existing conditions and mental illness, not allowing women to be charged more than men for health care and covering all Americans so that those of us who pay for insurance aren’t stuck paying higher fees because of cost shift from those who do not. The law was a give-away to big insurance companies and pharmaceutical companies who continue to charge three to ten times in the U.S.A. what they do in the rest of the world. Responsible Republicans have made the point, this law is not perfect and Congress should fix the law’s problems and save the good features.

Meanwhile responsible Republicans in the tradition of Lincoln, Ted Roosevelt, Reagan and Bohlinger should stand up to the far right, stand with Montana and use the federal Medicaid health dollars in Montana in the same way they support federal dollars for Medicare, highway contractors, farmers, ranchers (including Koch brothers), veterans, the National Guard, Malmstrom and our universities. We pay federal income tax like folks in the other 49 states. Why allow our share to go to health care in other states?"
-Brian Schweitzer, 2/19/2015, Billings Gazette
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Posted by Oddjob (+184) 5 years ago
Such a subtle reference.. "666" cattle....

And here I thought only Harry Reid has "Koch brothers derangement syndrome."

He forgets the other thing he has in common with the Koch brothers, besides cattle is his own "dark money" problem.
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Posted by Jeri Dalbec (+2979) 5 years ago
An Update by Brian Schweitzer:

Brian Schweitzer
Ever since I wrote the opinion piece on the Koch brothers and Americans for Prosperity that recently appeared in several Montana newspapers (for example, the February 19 Billings Gazette: http://bit.ly/1EvmQ7e), I’ve heard from a lot of friends and acquaintances in Montana and other states. Folks were as astonished as I was at the amount of government subsidies the Koch brothers receive from one ranch in one state while they hired 11 staffers to keep healthcare from people in Montana. And others have pointed out that the former state director of AFP, former state Senator Joe Balyeat, happily received generous government-paid healthcare.

I do need to correct one error in my opinion piece. My calculations on the state and federal grazing subsidies enjoyed by the Koch brothers in Montana were wrong. They were too low. I based the number of cattle on the assumption that during the driest year since 1960, the Koch ranch would have reduced cattle numbers down that year. I gave them the extreme benefit of the doubt, but they actually have 6,500 head, not 2,000 head.

That means the Koch brothers government subsidies, on just one ranch in one state, are actually 225% greater than I had calculated, meaning the government aid to run the Koch ranch in Montana is not 12.5 million bucks, but actually $28 million. My bad.

These government subsidies help pay for the AFP’s “political attack on the moderate wing of House Republicans,” – an attack reported on by Troy Carter of the Bozeman Daily Chronicle (http://bit.ly/18Xk2Ev). Carter says Americans for Prosperity is spending thousands of dollars on radio and TV ads to attack Republican legislators like Representatives “Geraldine Custer of Forsyth, Doc Moore of Missoula, Christy Clark of Choteau, Frank Garner of Kalispell, Jeff Wellborn of Dillon and Tom Berry of Roundup.”

These are good and honest legislators – some of whom I’ve disagreed with quite a bit in the past – but they are independent Montanans who are being pressured by one of the wealthiest families in the world to deny healthcare to Montanans.

This is the same AFP the Koch brothers announced will spend a “staggering” $889 million on the 2016 elections (National Public Radio, http://n.pr/1KxXvP6) – more than any political party has ever spent during a presidential election year. This secretive fortune will be spent to ensure that you and I pay for the Koch brothers’ government subsidies while the elderly, students, poor people and working families get little-to-squat. In essence, according to a political scientist quoted in the NPR report linked above, the Koch brothers have bought and paid for a new political party run by the ultra-wealthy for the ultra-wealthy.

When the Koch brothers attacked labor unions, some people stood back because they weren’t in a union. When they attacked the poor, some looked the other way because they were middle class. When they attacked the Democrats, some stood aside because they weren’t a Democrat. Now, they are even attacking Republicans in Montana. Montana, let’s stand together and send the Kochs' money and message back to Kansas, where they belong!
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