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Montana Politics

Jason Priest Opposes Voter Turnout, Clean Elections

There are two common themes emanating from the bowels of the Montana Republican Party these days when it comes to elections and voters: that the state should reduce voter turnout and that anonymous “dark money” groups should be able to spend as much as they like to influence elections and suppress voter turnout.

Senator Jason Priest from Red Lodge articulated this reactionary Republican view as well as anyone has:

State Sen. Jason Priest of Red Lodge warned fellow Republicans that the measure won’t affect anonymous blogs, a venue he argued where Democrats hold an advantage. He said Democrats have an election model that relies on using groups to help register voters and motivate them to vote, which the bill won’t hamper.

“Their business model is exempt under this bill,” Priest said to Republicans. “Vote for this, and keep losing elections. Because that is what this is.”

I don’t think many Montanans would agree that helping transport elderly voters to the polls is as damaging to the political process as secret corporate donations.

One critical element of context missing in this story from the AP’s Matt Gouras is that Priest has more than an academic interest in dark money; he’s a practitioner, as his Montana Growth Network was one of the most obvious players in the 2012 elections:

What is the Montana Growth Network? It’s yet another of Jason Priest’s fantasy organizations, sharing the same phone number, web host, and physical address as his very prestigious and entirely illusory “Montana Senate Policy Committee.”  Just another title for an organization of one, designed to collect donations from out of state corporate interests and justify newspaper publication.

It should tell you all you need to know about the reactionary core running the Republican agenda at the Senate that they demonize voter turnout efforts while defending secret corporate influence in politics.

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.

About the author

Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba has been writing about Montana politics since 2005 and teaching high school English since 2000. He's a 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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  • Well, of course Priest favors “dark money,” first to oust Republicans who aren’t far enough to the right in primary elections and then Democrats in general elections. Fair elections aren’t a part of his (and the Wittach, Essmann, Walker, etc.’s) game plan.

  • So when is this site going to cover what has only been plastered all over the FRONT page of the IR twice now?

    Looks like a corrupt governor let his corrupt crony get a little too corrupt for the state employee’s liking. But what else could we expect from B.S.? It’s about damn time this came out.

  • Gimme a T!

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    Whadaya got!? JAIL TIME!! Whadaya got!? JAIL TIME!! Whadaya got!? JJJAAAIIILLL TTTIIIMMMEE!!!!!

    As Larry would say: Bwahahahahahahahhahhaaads;lkajfd;askjdf;askdlgja;gqp roituq3potv

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