Jon Tester Montana Politics

Sen. Tester tries to limit third-party advertising in 2012

Today Sen. Jon Tester sent a letter to Congressman Rehberg (and his chief advisers) asking Rehberg to sign a “Third-Party Advertising Agreement.”  You can read the entire letter and agreement on Sen. Tester’s campaign website (it’s worth the read).  The agreement’s key provisions boil down to this:

  • Both candidates will “… publicly reject and work to prevent the broadcast of all third-party radio and TV ads from date of signature through… Election Day.”
  • “If a third-party organization that funds or broadcasts any TV or radio advertisement that specifically mentions or references either candidate, through narration, text or images, then the opposite candidate must pay a one-time penalty equal to the cost of the ad buy to the Montana charity or charities of the penalized candidate’s choice. The penalty shall not be greater than $250,000 and must come from a candidate’s campaign coffers.”

I think it’s not only a brilliant move by Sen. Tester, but that it’s also an honest attempt at keeping this campaign as unaffected by third party groups as possible.

Sen. Tester has already signed the agreement.  Your turn, Denny.

Update (DAP): I really liked this part of Senator Tester’s letter. I think it captures the reasons why this is an excellent idea. I’d like to believe that Representative Rehberg will give it real consideration:

Montanans take great pride in our state’s century-old law banning corporate control over our elections.  They passed our law after wealthy corporations literally bought Montana’s elections and power and influence in Washington.  You and I should do everything possible to prevent that from happening ever again.

That’s why I’m offering an unprecedented agreement between you and me for this historic election year: Let’s reject and work to keep all third-party radio and TV ads about you and me out of Montana.  Let’s reject efforts by outside groups to undermine Montana’s tradition of elections decided by people—not corporations.

I’ve enclosed an agreement that puts some real skin in the game, to give all third-party organizations—those that support you and those that support me—a powerful incentive to keep their advertising away from Montana airwaves.I’ve already signed it, and I look forward to you joining me.

Let’s let only you and me—and our campaigns—do the work of illuminating the issues and the differences that separate us.  Such an agreement will give Montanans a clear choice on November 6 without the influence of third-parties willing to secretly spend millions of dollars trying to influence voters.

If you appreciate an independent voice holding Montana politicians accountable and informing voters, and you can throw a few dollars a month our way, we would certainly appreciate it.


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      • And ken, you sound like you recieved your B.S. degree from Reader’s Digest. HEY, good on you! Tyring to improve your mind one crap at a time is better’n nuthin’, right dude? I’ll bet you got a whole library on the back of your crapper. And your degree comes on a roll!

  • I deleted a few comments here.

    Please try to stay on topic. You can question the premise of a post, argue its merits, or contend that it’s false. A post, however, is not a platform from which you can write anything. Have something interesting to say that’s not related to the post/topic? Get your own blog. They’re free.

    • I have. He's actually accomplished a great deal of good for Montana. Care to enlighten us about what Representative Rehberg has accomplished in ten years?

  • After that initial Chamber of Commerce blitz, it's no surprise Tester might be looking for something to minimize the damage — anything. The part about — wink, wink — corporate power is priceless. Pot calling the kettle black much? These two proxies will have much to say in the next few months that won't mean much of anything. The votes are in. Both have records they'd like us to forget. Both will use ungodly amounts of out-of-state money from the 1% to make us forget.

    • Given your obvious belief that you would do a much better job of resisting the influence of corporate cash, how would you address it differently than Senator Tester has?

      Given the current state of the law, this seems like a reasonable attempt to limit third party spending from the wealthy. Instead of yet another in a series of seemingly endless criticisms of Senator Tester, why not enlighten us all about what plan he should have suggested? I'm waiting eagerly to hear how you would address the issue of third party campaign spending.

  • You don't seem to realize, Don, that this is not "Tester" we are dealing with now, but "Campaign Tester," a creature that comes out of meetings held behind closed doors and used for marketing purposes. The whole of advertising, which is all this is, is geared toward the group, which is why researchers go to such lengths to identify "soccer moms" and "NASCAR dads." Once a group is identified, a marketing campaign can be crafted and targeted at it, and the campaign achieves cost efficiency. You''re part of several groups that Tester's advertising staff have ID'd – last week when you praised him for his comments on women's issues (a targeted group), and now as an advocate for overturning Citizens United, another useful group. In the same manner, and using the same advertising techniques, Rehberg's campaign identified Christian fundamentalists as a group they wanted to move, and so he came out with statements regarding a Jesus statue somewhere. It's all calculated for effect.

    None of this has any relation to how Tester will actually behave during his next term, if elected. It is all manipulation of target groups to maximize voter turnout.

    • Tester will surely be a better Senator for protecting women's rights. He will surely be a better Senator for protecting the environment. He will surely be a better Senator for protecting labor rights. He will surely be a better Senator for protecting the safety net. He will surely be a better Senator for protecting access to education.

      There's no question about any of those things. That you cannot or will not see it doesn't change the facts. Perhaps you can afford the impacts of six years of Republican rule, but people who depend on access to healthcare, education, equal protection under the law, and so much more cannot.

      Your simplistic, smug assessments of the Senator don't change any of that.

      • You simply cannot know that! I see nothing in the actions of Real Tester that give an indication that what you say is true. Campaign Tester is all over it, however.

  • These political ads from these 501 C4 “educational groups” (that don’t need to identify their donors) are bad news, whether they are supporting Dems or Republicans. This secret, anonymous money in politics stinks either way.

    If Sen Tester has already signed the agreement, I assume that we then wouldn't be seeing anymore ads like these ( which star people who are part of Sen Tester's Sportmen's Caucus advisory group…or their spouses. As you can see from the article snipped below, the quarter million dollar ad buy was paid for by donors that the front groups refuses to identify.



    A Montana hunting-and-angling group with Democratic ties has made a large TV ad buy rapping Republican U.S. Rep. Denny Rehberg for his support of a bill that gives the U.S. Border Patrol access to all federal lands for border-security purposes.

    Calling the bill a “federal land grab of the highest order,” Montana Hunters and Anglers Action bought ads in the Missoula and Billings television markets that urged viewers to call Rehberg and ask him to oppose the bill.

    The ads, airing on network and cable TV stations, began Monday and will continue for three weeks, said Land Tawney of Missoula, president of the newly formed group.

    Tawney, a senior manager for the National Wildlife Federation, wouldn’t reveal the cost of the buy, but sources told the Lee Newspapers State Bureau that it’s between $200,000 and $250,000….

    The group registered with the Montana secretary of state’s office on Oct. 6 as a nonprofit group.

    In addition to Tawney, its officers include Democratic state Sen. Kendall Van Dyk of Billings; Barrett Kaiser, a Billings communications consultant and former aide to U.S. Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont.; and George Cooper, a senior vice president for a Washington, D.C., lobbying firm and former news producer for CNN.

    As a 501(c) (4) “educational” group, Montana Hunters and Anglers Action is not required to reveal its financial donors. Tawney said the donors have asked not to be identified, but that they include individuals and organizations.

  • Protect: To shield from injury. I have a dog that can speak, sit, lie down and roll over that would be "better at protecting" your list of dog-whistle issues than either one of these clowns. Narrowly defining the problem of (1%) special-interest money dominating American politics renders the primary issue meaningless to most average citizens. That is the point of this line or reasoning isn't it? Everybody knows the problem is the quantity of money, where the money comes from, and ultimately the loss of public trust and commonwealth exchanged for campaign cash without our knowledge or consent. Like everything else, elections have been deregulated and privatized. Until there is some equitable public campaign finance system in place, a high percentage of congressional seats will continue to go to the candidate with the largest warchest. It's a spectator sport for a majority already, and only getting worse. Democracy is a small object in our rearview mirror as the pedal hits the metal.

    A publicly-finded system is as Baucus is so fond of saying: "Not on the table." Tester's letter helps those in denial, I suppose.

    • Great, but how do you propose Senator Tester makes this happen?

      I guarantee if he came out with a proposal calling for exactly what you want, you'd denounce it as theater.

      • Now that response to Ladybug has a religious feel about it. I was raised Catholic, and taught to disbelieve anything ever said against Catholics,. The mental implant they did on me was that since my beliefs were correct, any counter-beliefs were the result of bad motives. In those days, that was called The Devil. Maybe still is.

        I think this is the substance behind the impasse, why bad feelings result from these exchanges – that we who criticize Tester must suffer from bad motives.

        But ask yourself this – a thought experiment: What if our motives are good? What if we have high purpose and intelligence? What if we have ideals that transcend party politics? Can you deal with us on that level? Or, is it always going to be some evil motive in me and others that makes us want to bring down your giant?

        I am not evil, I am not an agent of the devil. I do not think that Tester is a bad person ( nor is Rehberg). But there is a larger force at work here, one so powerful that it causes good (but weak) people to lie, deceive, and descend into the bottomless pit of politics. On the other side is the need to feel some power. I continually put at your feet a bouquet of flowers with a note that says you have no power and are being deceived.

        I can see why it irritates you, why you get tired of it.

        • I think that might be one of the differences. I don't really care about motives. I lack the ability some to have to discern motives and agendas behind every action.

          I look at results–and as I have said roughly 2,438 times, the results from Senator Tester, imperfect though they may be, are better than the alternative. I'm not suggesting that he is the "lesser of two evils," either. I believe that he does important work for people and values I care about.

          • If you don't care about motives, why on earth do you dwell in politics? ( Better said: If you do not judge motives, you should not come within ten miles of a politician.)

  • So this is how the game is played?

    1. Haul in tons of cash early from out of state sources.
    2. Evaluate your competitors balance, seeing it smaller than yours.
    3. Sanctimoniously call for limits before you opponent catches up.
    4. Insult the intelligence of informed Montanans.

  • Results? Are the results positive, or is another empty promise after six years of bait-and-switch games enough for you? Many are content with low, or no, standards. Tester's labels his critics "extremists." He, like Baucus, is extremely authoritarian. Results are generally negative. Less bad than the alternative, but sliding backwards. Check your compass, this is a directional problem, not how many miles we've walked together with our fearless leader. We are indeed all stuck in a lesser of evils world unless sombody demands nothing less than positive results and will work toward worthy goals. Tester has outlined no clear vision and sets no goals. Sub par on a good day. And his pretentious pride in being better than Dennis Rehberg has become embarassing. Like I said before, I have a dog that can jump that high.

    • Do you really think you have much credibility when you argue that Senator Tester is "extremely authoritarian"?

      It's not about pride about being better than Mr. Rehberg. It's about the real people who will lose essential services.

      You need to confront your privilege if you can live in a world with reduced access to higher education, reduced eligibility for free and reduced lunch, a decreased minimum wage, and the whole host of other policies a Republican Senate will try to impose. The people I know who are barely getting by can't afford to have those things happen.

      As for me, I'm happy to support someone who will protect those economic rights, along with a woman's right to choose, sane foreign policy, and protection of our civil liberties.

  • And I'm happy for you. But you cannot be serious. You feel qualified to judge my credibility, and say you can "guarantee" what I will do in the future, and what I "need to confront," but won't lay a glove on Tester even when he's wrong (I won't list the votes). I know I will never fit into your make-believe world. That's okay. But I do remember his promises of 2006, and what happened in the MT Legislature before that. His authoritarian actions (ends justify the means) undermine the underlying values that govern our society (DREAM; NDAA). Protecting funding for government programs does not begin to restore lost values, which I see as our urgent task at hand. Tester lacks the essential elements needed to turn things around. He treats critics, even constructive ones, badly, lacks courage and seems to have lost (maybe never had one) a moral compass. Reelection is all that matters.

    • Look up the word "authoritarian" sometime. You're no better that the Glenn Beck crowd who bleat about socialism every time President Obama speaks.

      Authoritarian? How about making arguments about substance instead of throwing out wild, hyperbolic nonsense? You might disagree with Senator Tester. Hell, I disagree with Senator Tester on issues including the DREAM Act. But to call him authoritarian is just absurd.

    • I don't really know what you are talking about. I haven't moderated anything in well over a week and nothing is caught in the spam filter. What's been deleted?

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