Montana Politics

Montana Policy Institute’s Creepy Database of Libruls!

The Montana Policy Institute, a conservative front group located here in Montana, has put together a database of Montana progressives and progressive organizations that is as misleading as it is creepy. Ominously called Montana Legacy Takers, the site purports to expose the connections between liberal individual organizations and individuals in Montana:

Legacy Takers maps out established connections between left-wing activists, donors, politicians, and interest groups in an attempt to give the viewer a broad look at Montana’s progressive movement.

The misleading element of the page is the contention that liberal groups spent far more money influencing Montana elections than conservatives in 2012.

Notably missing from their list are organizations like the Montana Policy Institute, the Franklin Center’s Montana Watchdog, and American Tradition Partnership. There’s no mention of the whole coterie of right-wing smear groups that darkened Montana’s elections in 2012.

What their “analysis” fails to acknowledge is that public data about election spending is only useful for organizations that follow the law, not shell front-groups who receive money from right-wing funders and pretend not to be engaged in electioneering.

The primary purpose of the site, though, is this impressive looking, but meaningless web of connections between liberal groups and individuals working for and with them.

It’s certainly creepy, but utterly meaningless. It reveals the remarkable secret that people involved in progressive politics often work for and donate to liberal causes and candidates.

To understand just how meaningless this connection is, let’s look at the Montana Policy Institute itself, which mysteriously went dark shortly after the 2012 election.

The site, devoted as it is to showing the shadowy connections of liberal groups, has an interesting pedigree. It’s the work of the Montana Policy Institute, but is maintained by the Sutherland Institute’s Center for Self-Government in the West, which is a subsidiary group of the Sutherland Institute.  According to Sourcewatch, the Sutherland Institute is also a member of the State Policy Network and ALEC, and supports the right-wing fake journalists at the The Franklin Center. Funding for the Sutherland Institute comes from the right-wing Sam Adams Alliance, the Charles Lamb Foundation, the CATO Institute, and of course, the Koch Brothers.

At the root of it all is a group called Donors Trust, which hasDonors_Trust_Infographic been described as a “murky maze” of corporate money for organizations like these.

The Sutherland Institute’s Chairman of the Board is one Stanford Swim, who is, of course, associated with the SPN-affiliated GFC Foundation, a right-wing think tank in Utah. Its President, Paul Mero, worked for Republican members of Congress for ten years, worked for the Howard Center for Families, Religion, and Society, and  has written for the Family Research Council, and who is possessed of deeply troubling views about equality under the law.

Even a cursory look at the Board of Directors for the Montana Policy Institute  reveals a web of connections to conservative groups across the country, from the National Rifle Association to the American Conservative Union. They’ve even added self-professed water boarder Neil Livingstone to their board.

In the end, this deeply creepy database is nothing more than an effort to divert attention from the fact that secretive conservative organizations, with deep-pocketed corporate funders, are using every means possible to subvert elections in Montana. That a group of individuals and organizations on the left are following the law and reporting contributions would only be news to an organization entirely unwilling to do the same.

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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    • I agree, James. There are so many names of people to the right of me that are included in the database. I was extremely disappointed not to have made the list. It would be a badge of honor.

      How can we believe any of this organization’s reporting when it missed so many truly progressive activists? What a joke.

    • I’m Not on it either? Well, I guess that means I am allowed to raise more “Liberal Heck” on Social sites!

      Actually I think this kind of creepy website, is in all actuality, against a progressive group of people and like minded Individuals in Montana–who have bravely pointed out MPI as just a animated corpse of Extreme GOP Buffoonery and corporate doctored research it has long printed?

      Yeah that about sums it up!

  • I did see a genuine progressive group or two on the list. Hurts to be lumped with Montana Wilderness and all the other false front groups that have, like Invasion of the Body Snatchers, taken over the bodies and carried on as if they were the former occupants.

    In a country that has no left, right wingers get to be lefties too! Oh, hi Don. How’s tricks?

      • Nah, you’re on your own. You do this, demand that others supply your missing curiosity function. What you need to know you do not want to know. It is all right in front of your nose but you are not curious, and so arrogantly demand you that someone gofer for you. I got no time for that.

        I will tell you generally how it works. It takes money. Most grassroots groups are starving, have to make the most with very little. Their organizers burn out, wanting simple things like cars that run and maybe even paid vacation, The other side has the money, and they come in with their foundations and trusts and offer to help groups like MWA and Trout Unlimited, for example, and it is a siren song. Before you know it, the good people have left, and the collaborators have taken over, the program is I compromised. They still claim to be chasing the original ideal, but they are not. They’ve been body snatched. Then they join up with your bought Democrats like Tester and pretend they are the real deal. They are impostors.

        This endeth the lesson. There seems and bottomless well here for need of lessons.

  • Don’t forget the ‘tenacles’ of ALEC and it’s contributors and Koch funded fronts out there, far dwarfing the progressive non-profits
    figuring out how to pay office rents and keep phones going while
    Koch, ALEC puppets splashing out deceiving ads telling our kids
    they don’t need healthcare, etc.

  • Clearly any source purporting there is more funding for liberal views than right wing mud raking is delusional at best, but far more likely deliberately deceptive.
    Please note and correct the incomplete sentence in the third paragraph.
    “Notably missing from their list are organizations like the Montana Policy Institute, the Franklin Center’s Montana Watchdog, and American Tradition Partnership. There’s no mention of the”

    • There is plenty of money for liberal groups from outfits like Pew and Ford and some others. But it’s a Faustian bargain at best. As with MWA, if these groups accept money, they lose their fight, their spirit, and their goal and their good people. They begin to live well and prosper and collaborate, and cease to be useful. Then Jon Tester and the like come a-knockin’, and they work with him to achieve the right wing agenda, which by means of a body snatch has become the “liberal” agenda with a new name. (FJRA, Tester calls it.)

  • Ha! I’ve been organizing on the “left” in Montana for 6+ years. (More if you count my only time ever doing partisan work back in college) and I did not make this list. It’s like I am in high school all over again watching my friends get invited to parties and I’m just invisible. Although this time it is a party I definitely don’t want to attend. Win!

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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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