Michael Beckel at The Center for Public Integrity just issued a report examining the role of Jason Priest’s dark money Montana Growth Network on the 2012 Supreme Court race in Montana.
The report makes clear just how transparently disingenuous organizations like the Montana Growth Network really are. During the primary, Priest’s organization spent $42,000 supporting their preferred candidate, Laurie McKinnon, disclosing spending because their activities were in support of a candidate.
The Montana Growth Network spent roughly $42,000 during the primary election — more than either Sheehy or McKinnon’s own campaigns.
Once Sheehy and McKinnnon advanced to the general election, though, the Montana Growth Network stopped reporting its spending, claiming that mailers attacking Ed Sheehy were simply issue ads:
Ahead of the November election, one direct mail piece from the Montana Growth Network argued that under Sheehy, justice would be “beholden to a political party,” based on Sheehy’s past financial support of Democratic candidates.
Additionally, both mail and radio advertisements said that Sheehy had an “activist agenda” for his defense of Tyler Michael Miller, the so-called “Christmas Day Killer” who murdered his girlfriend and her 15-year-old daughter “in cold blood” in 2010.
Even a member of the TEA Party can see through what the MGN is attempting to do—and what Montana law currently allows.
That’s the system Jason Priest worked so hard to protect during the last legislative session: a climate in which dark money organizations can spend unlimited, unreported funds simply by asserting that their actions are not directly in support of a candidate, no matter the evidence that’s not true.