How Montana Dems Are Hoping to Win By Propping Up Libertarian
Montana Democrats and their dark money organizations have apparently abandoned efforts to promote Democrat candidate Monica Tranel in the Western Congressional district in Montana. Instead, they're hoping to prop up the open borders, pro-sanctuary city Libertarian candidate. It's all part of an effort to try and steal votes from Republican candidate Ryan Zinke (R-MT).
The great Dave Skinner has followed the money once again for us. Here's his latest investigative report looking at the money flowing into Montana elections.
The Baby Zombies
by Dave Skinner
Some Montanans saw a mysterious new flyer in their mail boxes literally days before the elections, a card sporting the Montana Republican logo calling on conservatives to vote for Libertarian congressional candidate John Lamb because Republican candidate Ryan Zinke is a “Republican in Name Only” or RINO.
Back in 2012, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) protected his power by overseeing a similar mailing, sent from an anonymous post-office box in Las Vegas. Those cards supported Dan Cox, who won enough votes (most from people who would never, ever vote Democrat) to cover Democrat incumbent Jon Tester’s margin of victory in the US Senate race over Dennis Rehberg. Whether those cards had an effect is not known, but Democrat operatives apparently think those cards made a significant difference, enough to try the same gambit in this election.
Out of the woodwork comes “Montanans Against Corruption in Congress,” or MACC. Who dat?
Well, MACC has the exact same street address, uses the exact same bank, has the exact same Email (no phone), uses the exact same “records custodian” and is managed by the exact same treasurer as Montanans for a Better Congress (MBC). the federal super PAC that helped Monica Tranel’s primary campaign against Cora Neumann.
Just nine rich Montana residents (not necessarily actual Montanans), all Democrats, gave MBC every dime it received. One of those givers is, yep, Monica Tranel’s husband. But MBC reported $59,000 left over when it shut down after the primary.
Where might the money have gone? I’d suggest asking the treasurer of both MBC and MACC, Timothy Bechtold, who signs the checks for both.
Mr. Bechtold is a well-known environmentalist attorney in Missoula, fronting litigation for many Montana and national environmental groups such as Earthjustice since the late 1990s. Before he was a lawyer, however, he was a full-blown environmental radical, a member of Earth First! during its most extreme days. In 1993, he told a Canadian researcher his general philosophy: “American culture is something to get rid of.”
Nobody who believes that should be telling anyone how to vote, should they? How is this possible? Well, the details are (link here).
How Baby Zombies Get Born
Monica Tranel, the Democratic candidate competing with Republican candidate Ryan Zinke for Montana’s new second U.S. House seat, has some very clever people helping her.
Federal campaign laws restrict individual donors to a limit of $5,400 total every federal “campaign cycle,” $2,700 each primary and general election. But there’s a way around these limits, the “independent Super PAC.” To super PACs, contributions are totally unlimited. The only limit seems to be that independent super PACs can not directly “coordinate” with the candidate or candidate staff for a period of time prior to both primary and general Election Day.
But plans can be made, and followed. Monica Tranel and her network made quite a plan.
During the 2022 primary season, a federal super PAC calling itself Montanans for a Better Congress popped up with TV ads attacking Cora Neumann, Monica Tranel’s most-viable primary opponent for the Democratic nomination to Congress. Sleazy? Deceptive? Maybe, but under federal campaign law, which is imbecilic at best because Congress voted that way, objectively a smart move.
Montanans for a Better Congress (ID number C00811224) filed its Federal Elections Commission Form 1 on April 1, 2022, over the signature of Timothy Bechtold, a Missoula environmental attorney. The custodian of records is Abbey Lee Cook. While Cook resides in Helena, she’s former campaign manager for New York Democratic politician Max Rose, a former Congressman now running to regain his seat in Congress after losing in 2020 when Cook was running his campaign.
Montanans for a Better Congress (MBC for short) raised $175,600 from just nine people. The top two givers were:
Albert Borgman, $100,000: Borgman is a retired University of Montana professor who specialized in the philosophy of technology – writing many books (i.e., University of Chicago Press) and essays about the impact of technology on not only ethics but nature. One example, a student lecture in 1983 covering “The impact of technology on the character of major social institutions.”
Susan MacGrath, $50,000: Mrs. MacGrath is married to mountaineer and guide Martin Zabaleta, noted as the first Basque to climb Mount Everest in 1980. A 1999 graduate of Lewis and Clark Law School, she is a “parent and non-practicing attorney.” Nonetheless, she ranked nationally as America’s 1,281st largest “hard money” political giver according to campaign finance tracking site Open Secrets.org: $245,000 to Democrats, none to Republicans.
Combined, professor Borgman and housewife MacGrath gave $150,000 of the $176,000 raised by Montanans for a Better Congress.
The rest came from:
James R. Scott of Billings, $10,000: Other FEC records show a “not employed” Mr. Scott giving $5,800 in earmarked money to Monica Tranel through ActBlue in 2022; and 2021 FEC filing show First Interstate Bank director James R. Scott giving $17,500 to the Montana Democratic Party.
Dan Weinberg (and wife Michelle) of Whitefish: $7,000. Weinberg was a state senator for one term 2004-2008 representing Whitefish. He was defeated in the 2008 election by none other than Ryan Zinke.
Gregar Lind of Missoula, $5,000: Dr. Lind (he’s an MD) is not only Monica Tranel’s husband, but he served alongside fellow liberal Democrat Dan Weinberg in the Montana Senate.
Timothy Bechtold, Missoula, $2,500: As noted above, Mr. Bechtold (an attorney), is already MBC’s treasurer. He’s noted for groundbreaking litigation on behalf of environmental groups. He’s also noted as being a bona-fide member of Earth First! during EF!’s most radical and violet era, the same timeframe as current Bureau of Land Management Director Tracy Stone Manning involvement with the group, roughly 1988 to 1995. In 1993, Bechtold revealed his outlook on life, telling Canadian sociology researcher Richard James Burton “American culture is something to get rid of.”
Fast forward to today, and Mr. Bechtold is among the elite in terms of Montana law practice, and mixes with the elite of Montana’s Democratic establishment, involved with the most rarefied aspects of national campaign finance regulation (and how to avoid violating same).
But even the most rarefied campaign finance schemes can be amazingly crude. Let’s switch gears just a little.
In the third week of October, another super PAC made its presence known through a mass mailing of post cards marked with the Montana GOP logo (without permission, of course), calling on conservatives to vote for Libertarian John Lamb instead of “RINO” Ryan Zinke. Back in 2012, a federal super PAC controlled by Harry Reid did a similar mailing out of a Las Vegas post office box, calling on conservatives to vote Libertarian. The 6.5 percent of Montana voters who chose Dan Cox (L) that year more than covered Jon Tester’s 4.1 percent margin over Rehberg in 2012.
The super PAC: Montanans Against Corruption in Congress (MACC), FEC ID number C00820589, first filed with the FEC in mid-July of 2022. MACC is located at the exact same street address as MBC, 317 East Spruce Street in Missoula. MACC’s custodian of records is Abbey Lee Cook, again – and even the treasurer is the same, Earth First! alumnus and lawyer Timothy Bechtold.
No, we couldn’t make this garbage up if we tried. Yes, it’s all perfectly legal. At time of writing, November 3, FEC records show MACC hasn’t raised or spent a dime. But it’s a safe bet that AFTER the election is over, the records of both MBC and MACC will show that the $59,070.01 left over when Montanans for a Better Congress shut down didn’t even need to find a new home, just a new bank account run by the same person.
They say America is a nation of laws – and the machinations documented here make it clear there are some contemptibly bad laws on the books, exploited by bad actors who don’t want voters to have even the tiniest chance of voting wisely. That’s one way to get rid of America.