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There’s a proposal to turn our state highways into the Las Vegas Strip.

As if regular billboards aren’t ugly enough, electronic billboards could grace (although that seems like bad choice of verbs) our scenic Montana roads.

The Montana Transportation Commission, a five-member board that advises the Montana Department of Transportation, may recommend that LED signs be allowed on highways and interstates.

It’s not just about abusing our scenic views, there’s a safety factor. From Bob Giordano, an alternative transportation advocate:

Studies show increased distraction of drivers with electronic billboards. Taking driver’s eyes off the road for extra time greatly increases risk of a crash.  Many groups in Montana, including the Department of Transportation, are working towards Vision Zero — a goal to do away with injuries and fatalities on Montana roads.  Allowing more distractions seems counter to this adopted policy.

So far, the advertising industry has dominated the conversation. Now it’s your turn. Here’s the link to the commissioners. Please fire off an email to the commissioner in your district and let them know this is a very bad idea.

Dark money advocate and Bozeman attorney Matthew Monforton is challenging Montana’s new campaign disclosure laws. Monforton represents the National Association for Gun Rights which wants to send out campaign mailers on where candidates stand on gun laws. He’s afraid that under the new rules, the association will have to declare where its money comes from.

I’m not sure which is more distasteful, the challenge to our dark money campaign laws or the negative campaign pieces showing up in mailboxes. The only good news is that Monforton won’t be seeking re-election to the Montana House because, he told the Bozeman Chronicle:

The Montana Republican Party will always be a charade until we stop Democrat activists from infiltrating our primaries and electing phony ‘Republicans’ like Ryan Zinke and Walt Sales (who filed for Monforton’s seat in the Republican primary). I will therefore not seek re-election to House District 69 and instead focus on our pending suit challenging Montana’s antiquated and corrupt primary system.

Apparently, I’ve been wrong about Zinke. Who would have guessed he’s really a Democrat?

Margot Kidder, a Paradise Valley resident, political activist and Lois Lane in the Superman movies takes the Montana Democratic Party to task. She’s obviously a Bernie supporter and isn’t happy with the dealmaking the state party did with the Hillary Clinton Victory Fund. She writes in Counterpunch — a source I seldom quote — that by exploiting the 2014 Supreme Court ruling in McCutcheon v. FEC, donors can skirt campaign contribution ceilings. Individuals donate to the Montana Democratic Party and the donations are split between the state party, the DNC and the Clinton fund. Kidder writes:

In other words, a single donor, by giving 10,000 dollars a year to each signatory state could legally give an extra $330,000 a year for two years to the Hillary Victory Fund. For each donor, this raised their individual legal cap on the Presidential campaign to $660,000 if given in both 2015 and 2016. And to one million, three hundred and 20 thousand dollars if an equal amount were also donated in their spouse’s name.

Beyond skirting campaign finance laws, Kidder wonders if these donations might compromise the votes of the states’ superdelegates. That seems like a reasonable question to ask.

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About the author

Pete Talbot

'Papa’ Pete Talbot is first and foremost a grandfather to five wonderful grandchildren. Like many Montanans, he has held numerous jobs over the years: film and video producer, a partner in a marketing and advertising firm, a builder and a property manager. He’s served on local and statewide Democratic Party boards. Pete has also been blogging at various sites for over a decade. Ping-pong and skiing are his favorite diversions. He enjoys bourbon.

1 Comment

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  • Thanks for writing about and adding your thoughts on Margot Kidder’s piece n Counterpunch.

    Along with your questions as to the appearance and PR effect on the party, and on the effect of the money on our super delegates I’d also like to know how this was passed. What’s the cut for the state party? Is there a cut for the county parties? Does Hillary have access to spend that money in the primaries as well as the general? Doesn’t that throw neutrality out the window if they are helping her raise money she can spend in the primary?

    I’d also question whether this was a good decision for the state party as a whole to enter into and why so many know so little about the arraignment?

    Of course without more information we can only guess. I’m hoping some answers come out at the Dem State Eboard meeting this Saturday.

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