Over 81 percent of Senator Jon Tester’s campaign money comes from outside of Montana

KTVQ – At least 81 percent of Sen. Tester’s campaign money from outside MT

U.S. Sen. Jon Tester, bracing for another tough election battle in 2018, has received at least 81 percent of his nearly $8 million campaign war chest from sources outside Montana, an MTN analysis shows.

Tester, one of several Democratic incumbent senators up for election in states won handily by President Trump last year, has culled funds from across the nation, with donors from every state.

And while he’s garnered plenty of money from Montanans since winning re-election in 2012 – at least $663,000 – he’s also raised considerable sums from Californians, New Yorkers and donors from the Washington, D.C. area.

Tester’s campaign says he’s received 13,300 separate contributions from Montanans for the 2018 race, most of them less than $100 each.

“We are proud of the widespread, grassroots support our campaign has received here in Montana,” says campaign manager Christie Roberts. “Montanans know that every day, Jon is going to fight for them, relentlessly defending Montana from the outside interests trying to buy our elections, take our public lands and chip away at our personal freedoms.”

Yet the vast majority of his campaign money is from out-of-state sources, including political action committees.

He’s also not alone when it comes to relying on campaign funds not from the pocket of individual Montanans.

Some of his potential Republican competitors – at least six men have said they intend to run in the GOP U.S. Senate primary next year – also have accepted plenty of money from non-Montanans.

For example, less than 5 percent of Big Sky businessman Troy Downing’s campaign fund has come from Montana donors.

Tester’s last race in 2012 set the record for campaign spending in Montana, with more than $50 million spent by outside groups, Tester, and his Republican opponent, then-U.S. Rep. Denny Rehberg.

David Parker, a political scientist at Montana State University, says the 2018 Tester race could be of the same financial magnitude – or, maybe not, depending on who the Republican nominee is and how competitive the race becomes.

“I do think, relatively to 2012, though, that race is not quite as competitive yet,” he says. “Whether or not it’s going to be a $50-$60 million race like it was in 2012, I’m not too confident yet that that’s going to be the case.”

Tester and his campaign say they’re taking nothing for granted, and that they need a big bank account to fight back against an expected onslaught of money from outside groups, trying to defeat him.

“We know what they’re going to do,” Tester told MTN News in a recent interview. “They’re going to try to make me into something I’m not and then run against that person. They tried to do that in 2006, they tried to do that in 2012.”

MTN News examined the source of Tester’s donations, dating back to January 2013. Some of the findings:

At least 81 percent, or $6.3 million, came from individuals and political-action committees (PACs) from outside Montana. The total amount of money from sources outside the state is certainly a bit higher, however:
Another $800,000 of Tester’s money came from “non-itemized” individuals, whose names or addresses aren’t required to be listed because they gave less than $200. Many of these individuals are likely from Montana – but many are not. Any amount from this group that comes from non-Montanans should be added to the 81 percent of identifiable out-of-state funds for the Tester campaign.
Individuals who give more than $200 must be listed on campaign reports, with names, addresses and occupations. Of the $4.5 million that Tester received from these individuals, about $663,000 came from Montanans – or 8.5 percent of his total contributions.
Donors from New York gave at least $813,000, or 10 percent of his total; donors from California $708,000 (9 percent); donors from Washington, D.C., Virginia and Maryland clocked in at $661,000, or 8.5 percent.
PACs, which represent businesses, labor unions and various ideological causes, have contributed $2.4 million to Tester’s campaign, or 31 percent of his total. Almost all PACs are based outside Montana.

MTN News also examined the latest available campaign-finance reports of Republicans in the race, filed last month and reflecting fundraising and spending through Sept. 30:

State Auditor Matt Rosendale: Of the $434,000 raised by Rosendale, at least 63 percent came from out-of-state sources. He raised about a third of his money from Montanans, including $132,000 from individuals who gave more than $200 each.

He received considerable amounts from Texans ($48,000), Floridians ($46,000) and Californians ($42,000).

Big Sky businessman Troy Downing: About 70 percent of his campaign funds has come from his own pocket, in the form of $350,000 of personal loans. He reported receiving about $20,000 from Montanans, or just over 4 percent of his total campaign funds of $492,000.

State Sen. Al Olszewski of Kalispell: About 60 percent of Olszewski’s $168,000 in campaign funds has come from his own pocket. He’s raised $65,000, mostly from individuals, and at least $42,400 of that money has come from Montanans.

Olszewski said he recently sent a fundraising mailer to 51,000 Montana households, and that it’s bringing in a lot of small donations. “My goal is to have the most personal donations,” he said.

Russell Fagg, former state district judge from Billings: Fagg hasn’t revealed any of his donors or spending because he used an “exploratory committee” to raise money before declaring his candidacy last month. He says he’ll list his donors and spending in his first required report in January.

Business owner Ron Murray of Belgrade and financial adviser James Dean of Havre haven’t filed any reports, presumably because they had less than the $5,000 threshold for reporting to the Federal Election Commission. Source KTVQ

Bitter Montana School Administrators Won’t Penalize Students for Political Walkout?

NBCMontana.com – Kalispell Public Schools will not penalize students for March 14 walkouts.

“At schools nationwide student walkouts are being planned for March 14 under the #Enough movement. The walkouts follow last month’s Florida school shooting that claimed the lives of 17 people.

Some students in the Flathead are planning to join.

“I think it’s important to not ignore the voice of our students,” said Kalispell Public Schools Superintendent Mark Flatau.

The district will not penalize students who participate.

“These young people are, in some cases, literally months away from entering the world — the real world of public dialogue, of discussion on both local and national issues,” he said.

Last week school administrators at both Glacier High School and Flathead High School sent emails to parents to be transparent about the students’ plans.

Glacier High School will have a brief and voluntary walkout for a memorial commemorating the lives that were lost. Regular school attendance rules will apply after the 17-minute walkout.

At Flathead High School, Principal Michele Paine wrote the following in an email to parents:

“We have been monitoring student interest and concern over the recent school shooting in Florida on February 14. Although our student body has expressed deep sadness over this tragedy, no one has stepped forward to rally around any type of protest activity on March 14.”

Currently the plan at Flathead High School is to show a video commemorating the students in Parkland, Florida.

School administrators say any further student activity will happen outside of school hours.

Flatau says school administrators have held meetings with the student body and have not had any indication that they plan to advocate for gun control. However, he added he has no control over what their message ends up being.

“Can I predict what any student is going to do? No, I can’t, that’s the challenge of educating and managing nearly 5,900 students every day in Kalispell,” he said.”

Two School Walkouts/Women’s Marches Planned So Far For Montana To Protest Guns [Video]

KTVQ HELENA – “A website tracking planned school walkouts shows just two planned for Montana. The first of those announced was at Carroll College, the second is planned in Missoula, at the Missoula International School. The planned march at Carroll College is detailed on the Women’s March website. According to the website, the event is part of the national school walkout on March 14th. The event is one month from the day 17 students were killed in the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting. Organizers are calling students, teachers and administrators to meet on the St. Charles steps at 10 a.m. for 17 minutes, one minute for each of the victims in the Parkland, Florida shooting. The goal of the national school walkout is to demand congress pass tougher legislation to prevent gun violence at schools and neighborhoods. Attendees will sign letters to lawmakers urging them to take action. The Carroll march was organized by Emily Larson. MTN News reached out Emily Larson and Carroll administrators, both declined comment at this time.” Watch the video, react, share and comment below.

Should Billings ban sexual activity at massage parlors? Council considers ordinance.

About half of online ads for commercial sex in Montana are posted by massage parlors, an FBI agent said. Read more, like, share and comment below.

Should Billings ban sexual activity at massage parlors? Council considers ordinance

An upcoming proposed ordinance that will specifically prohibit sexual activity at Billings massage parlors took up the lion’s share of the Billings City Council’s work session Monday. Brandon Walter, a Billings-based special agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, told the council there were nearly 20,000 ads posted online between October 2016 and October 2017 regarding the availability of commercial sex in Billings.

“An upcoming proposed ordinance that will specifically prohibit sexual activity at Billings massage parlors took up the lion’s share of the Billings City Council’s work session Monday.

Brandon Walter, a Billings-based special agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, told the council there were nearly 20,000 ads posted online between October 2016 and October 2017 regarding the availability of commercial sex in Billings. Bozeman and Missoula had about one-fourth that number or less, he said.

“Go to those websites,” he suggested. “You will see that they are not selling massage.”

“I’m a little leery of going to those websites,” Mayor Tom Hanel replied.

Walter, who has also been working on human trafficking issues around Montana, said about half of those online ads were posted by Billings massage parlors.

He suggested a two-pronged approach involving both stepped-up enforcement and passage of an ordinance regulating behavior at massage parlors.

“There are legitimate massage parlors in town,” said Councilman Ryan Sullivan. “But at others, you think things are going on that are wrong there, and they are.”

Sullivan and Councilman Mike Yakawich have been working with city staff on developing an ordinance for council consideration. Sullivan said he has a draft ordinance that he will distribute to council members.

Police Chief Rich St. John said the ultimate goal is to “get offenders into the federal system, because they leave a mark when there is a conviction.”

He said police have made two prostitution arrests in 2017. Both were misdemeanors.

Tiffiny Russell, a licensed massage therapist and the co-owner of the Mossmain College of Massage, said that male clients have propositioned her on numerous occasions “because of the proliferation of these massage parlors. There is this understanding that’s what massage therapists do.”

“This is a safety issue for massage therapists,” she told council members, urging them to pass the ordinance when it comes before them. With more than 300 licensed massage therapists in Billings providing legitimate care for their clients, “we hope you do indeed pass an ordinance to keep us safe.”

“People believe prostitution is a victimless crime,” she said, “but when they use (massage therapy) to cloak activities, that puts legitimate massage therapists at risk, too.”
Police at Billings Clinic

St. John said that under an agreement still being developed, Billings Clinic will pay for at least two officers initially — and as many as seven eventually — to work solely on the hospital’s campus.

The developing agreement will be similar to those the department has with School District 2 for school resource officers and the Downtown Billings Alliance for its downtown resource officers.

Billings Clinic “wants a 24/7 operation eventually,” St. John told the council. “I suggest we start with two to get the program going and moving forward.”

New officers would have to be hired, he said, with officers already with the department available to work on the Billings Clinic campus. St. John said there are a handful of candidates already certified who can be hired quickly, rather than waiting for new officers to complete their training at the Montana Law Enforcement Academy.

Currently, officers work on some of their days off in the emergency department and other areas. Billings Clinic pays for these services.

“They are looking for more coverage,” St. John said. “We expect them to be quintessential police officers. It’s a big campus with a big footprint downtown, and it’s pretty much ground zero for our transient population.”

He said he wants Billings Clinic officers “out there being seen, helping people get to their vehicles at night and making sure staff is safe.”

St. John said St. Vincent Healthcare has not asked the department about a similar service for its Billings campus.” Source: Billings Gazette

GOP Senate candidate says Montana FWP part of liberal ‘deep state’

“The campaign of Troy Downing, a Republican seeking his party’s U.S. Senate nomination, issued a release Wednesday calling the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks “deep state” and claiming the agency conducted a “witch hunt” against him.” Read more, react, share and comment below.

GOP Senate candidate says Montana FWP part of liberal ‘deep state’

The campaign of Troy Downing, a Republican seeking his party’s U.S. Senate nomination, issued a release Wednesday calling the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks “deep state” and claiming the agency conducted a “witch hunt” against him.

“Deep state is a term that became popular on conservative websites such as Breitbart during the 2016 presidential race to refer to career employees secretly working within government to manipulate policy and undermine political enemies.

“It’s unfortunate the liberal Montana FWP deep state is on a witch hunt,” The Downing campaign said.

The release came in response to a story from the Bozeman Daily Chronicle last week detailing records from an FWP investigation into Downing’s alleged hunting violations.

The Chronicle has reported that Downing, who is hoping to unseat Sen. Jon Tester, a Democrat, was charged with seven misdemeanor violations for buying or applying for resident hunting licenses as a non-resident. He was also cited twice for transferring a license and assisting an unqualified applicant.

The records were ordered unsealed by Gallatin County District Court Judge John Brown in October. Downing’s next date in court is Nov. 15 for an omnibus hearing, the Chronicle reported.

Downing’s statement, sent by campaign manager Kevin Gardner, also criticized Brown, calling him a “Democrat” even though judicial positions are nonpartisan.

“It’s no surprise that a Democrat judge, appointed by Democrat Gov. Schweitzer would release details of this case before Troy is afforded due process in the court of law,” the release said.

The release of the records was requested by the Gallatin County Attorney’s Office.

Brown was appointed by a Democratic governor to fill a vacancy on the bench. He has since run for retention in a nonpartisan election.

Downing called the judge’s actions “politically motivated tactics.”

“This is nothing more than an orchestrated attack on a combat veteran by Senator Tester’s allies who are desperate to stay in power,” Downing’s campaign said. “These moves are obviously politically motivated and makes a mockery of the judicial process.”

The Chronicle reported the investigation was started by the Montana Department of Revenue, which was asked by FWP to see if Downing qualified as a resident for hunting licenses. According to the documents, Downing filed income taxes as a non-resident in 2013 and 2014 but changed to a full-time resident by 2015.

Downing allegedly bought licenses illegally in 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016, according to the Chronicle.

The release said that Downing’s time in the Air Force after 9/11 meant he traveled and did not live in Montana full-time until he was honorably discharged in 2009. In the release, Downing said he bought land in Montana in 2000 and in a radio interview Wednesday morning said over the last decade he’s had businesses in 35 states and “been on the road a lot.”

“Troy spends tens of thousands of dollars to support our wounded warriors in fishing trips in Montana, and, he overpays by tens of thousands of dollars to fish and hunt to support other charities here in Montana. It makes no sense that he would try to skirt a small difference in a resident vs non-resident license in Montana,” the release read.

Downing’s statement also praised Republican President Donald Trump, who Downing had criticized before the president won Montana by 20 percent a year ago.

Before the election, Downing said on Twitter the then-candidate wasn’t electable and that Trump “cracks me up.” He also used the hashtag #NeverTrumpNeverHillary and at one point called Trump “either a liar or an idiot,” according to The Hill. Downing’s personal Twitter account has since been made private.

Last week, Downing tweeted from his campaign account a photo of him with Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump, the president’s sons who were visiting Montana.

In the photo, Downing wore a red Make America Great Again hat, a trademark of the Trump campaign, while Trump’s sons wore Downing campaign hats.

Matt Rosendale, one of several Republicans running in the Senate primary, also recently touted his ties to the administration, saying he had been endorsed by Steve Bannon, a former top adviser to Trump who was forced out of the administration earlier this year and is now running Breitbart.

Other candidates include former Billings judge Russ Fagg, state senator and doctor Albert Olszewski, Ron Murray of Belgrade and James Dean of Havre, whose wife is running against Tester in the Democratic primary.” Source: Missoulian