Montana Politics

Corey Stapleton Goes Negative

The other day I wondered by Corey Stapleton would possible donate $90,000 to his own failed bid for governor. Today, the answer became more clear: because this fall he wants to help Democrats remind Montana voters just how unsuited for the governor’s chair Rick Hill is.


The ad, while incredibly awkwardly animated, isn’t really unfair. Everyone knows that Hill has other baggage he’d like voters to forget, so Stapleton is being more than fair to point out Hill’s policy failures. He did support a sales tax. He did turn Workers’ Comp into a mess. And he did make an obscene amount of amount with sweetheart real estate deals.

So thanks, Corey. You’re probably still not going to crack 10% in the primary, but we appreciate this ad.

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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  • Stapleton goes Swift Boat on Hill, and he still loses. He could have just burned $150,000 in cash in the parking lot and then carried on with his life, and then he would have had the bonus of not traveling for a year. Pretty pathetic, particularly given the fact that no one still knows what the little fella stands for.

    Lies about Hill won’t do the Dems any good. They will need to come up with something more effective to beat him in the fall, like actually listening to the voters of Montana.

    • For once, I mostly agree with you, Crazy. Corey can’t win the nomination unless the votes split JUST right and even then, it is highly unlikely. Moreover, you are not completely offbase in pointing out that Corey has given little away on where he actually stands on many of the issues that concern Montana voters.

      Where you spectacularly fail is when you say the ad won’t do any good. Besides reminding Conservative voters of the mounds of baggage Hill has (and you simply can’t lie that baggage away), it diverts Hill’s resources away from his Jobs, Jobs and more Jobs message and forces him to answer the baggage. Had this ad come from a Democrat, it would have been dismissed as “Pinko commy socialist propoganda” but coming from a fellow conservative, it carries more weight. Corey may not win, but he certainly put a harpoon into Hill and it remains to be seen just how much damage it will do to Hill’s campaign. It is certainly seeing a lot of press both in the blogs and in political circles.

  • (I forgot to add my email when I posted this so I will try again.)

    Don – first a comment. I have always enjoyed reading your site. While I disagree with many things you say, I find it civil and well written.

    Regarding Corey Stapleton investing $90,000 of his own money into his campaign, why are you certain it is his money? His own campaign reports show lots of cash coming in on pass the hats that far exceed any amounts any other politician has ever raised in one pass the hatevent. Even his own reported math on the number of people attending doesn’t always add up to the under $35 limits for cash contributions. There are further rumors that he is being “loaned” money by outside groups (medical marijuana?) that he is claiming for his own.

    Next, while Stapleton’s repeated attacks of “sweet heart deals” against Rick Hill may sound tantalizing to Hill’s opponents I don’t see anyone offering any real proof. Stapleton tries to point to the recent article regarding emails that set up a meeting to discuss lease contracts in the Phoenix Building over 10 years ago. But close reading fails to reveal any wrongdoing by Hill or his wife. The article is not well written but after only a few minutes on google shows Hill never had any financial interests in the building being discussed .

    More googleing points to Missoula attorney Milt Datsopoulos as the likely “active party leader” mentioned in Betti Hill’s emails that helped set up a meeting between the property owners and State officials. A simple records search show that the building’s owners were and are Bovey Restorations Inc. whose address is 201 West Main St, Suite 201, Missoula, Mt. This is also the address for Datsopoulos McDonald & Lind, a law firm with close ties to the Democratic party. The principals of that firm are listed among Bovey Restorations officers.

    Milt Datsopoulos, is a prominent Democrat who is a strong supporter of Schweitzer and Steve Bullock and a key player in Democratic politics. Every Democratic politician with any common sense calls on Milt when he/she first announces a run for a state wide office. Datsopoulos recently held a large fundraiser for Bullock in his Missoula home. He has held similar fundraisers for Schweitzer and many other prominent Democrats.

    Since the DEQ did not renew its lease on that property and moved out a few years later and relocated to the old vacant National Guard Armory I am not certain how anyone can claim a “sweet heart deal” was granted to anyone.

    I was in Helena during this time period and there were a lot of vacant private and government buildings. I think even Governor Schweitzer would have objected to putting up a multi-million dollar new building to house the DEQ when there was plenty of vacant buildings up for grabs.

    When Corey began his campaign last year, I listened to him assure people he was going to take the high road and not go negative. Every poll I have seen over the past 6 months has shown him in single digits. His decision to go negative with mostly unsupported and truth stretching attacks is the sign of a campaign that is circling the drain in desperation mode. He has expended a lot of political capital on this negative campaign that will not help him win and will severely hurt him among GOP party faithful in future races.

    If Bullock wants use this as a political attack against Hill and claim that the meeting set up by the Martz administration between Milt Datsopoulos’s firm and the DEQ representatives resulted in a sweet heart deal, then he had better be prepared to denounce a prominent Democrat’s support and turn back all the money Datsopoulos raised for him this year. The attack might be a good sound bite, but it is one that also creats a mind field for Bullock.

  • I have heard rumors that Stapleton’s latest surplus of funds came from the dope smoking crowd that is upset with Hill’s position on stronger government regulations for the pot growers in the great state of Montana. Very interesting! So Corey, tell us where this money came from, you dishonest politician!

    • “I have heard rumors that Stapleton’s latest surplus of funds came from the dope smoking crowd that is upset with Hill’s position on stronger government regulations for the pot growers in the great state of Montana. ”

      How is that dishonest? Unless the pot growers have growing pot as their primary occupation, and then lied about it when they donated, there is nothing dishonest about business people donating to a candidate to try to improve the conditions of their business.

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Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba is an eighteen-year teacher of English, former debate coach, and loyal, if often sad, fan of the San Diego Padres and Portland Timbers. He spends far too many hours of his life working at school and on his small business, Big Sky Debate.
His work has appeared in Politico and Rewire.
In the past few years, travel has become a priority, whether it's a road trip to some little town in Montana or a museum of culture in Ísafjörður, Iceland.

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