I just don’t get it.
This past week, national media outlets broke yet another story about the shady financing of Matt Rosendale’s 2018 bid for the Senate. In a story we highlighted on Tuesday, ABC News reported that Rosendale was the beneficiary of another round of illegal campaign coordination in his race to unseat Jon Tester. As ABC reported:
According to the complaint, America First Action, during the 2018 cycle, spent nearly $6.6 million on an ad blitz supporting former Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Texas, Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., and Montana Senate candidate Matt Rosendale, using multiple vendors linked to a political consulting firm called OnMessage, while the candidates were, at the same time, placing ads using a firm named National Media. The firms were disguised as separate entities in campaign disclosure reports and the super PAC’s spending was reported as independent expenditures.
The scheme is a big damn deal. Rosendale is no stranger to campaign finance violations. In 2018, he was recorded admitting that his campaign had coordinated campaign spending with the NRA and he operated a funding workaround that campaign finance reform groups likened to “money laundering.”
So, while news of Rosendale’s involvement in yet another piece of shady campaign fundraising certainly wasn’t surprising, it certainly is newsworthy—something the voters of Montana should be made aware of before they decide to vote against Rosendale in yet another campaign for Congress.
That Rosendale has been repeatedly linked to shady campaign finance is all the more reason for the press to come down on this latest story, or we’ll be reading in the national press in 2021 how he broke the law in 2020.
While the Montana press has certainly critical stories about Rosendale, this omission is part of a pattern of ignoring his misdeeds and missteps, even when they are more newsworthy than critical pieces about a gun club shooting pumpkins or the endless parade of human misery in crime reports.
Here’s just a sampling of stories about Rosendale that haven’t been covered in the state’s newspapers:
- his failure to go to work at the State Auditor’s office while he was running his campaign for Senate.
- his vote against a measure to combat human trafficking in Montana.
- his connection to a series of bigots across the state of Montana.
- his connection to a right-wing pastor who has called 9/11 a Zionist hoax and who argued that the Jews were responsible for the Holocaust.
- his decision to hire a campaign spokesman who was the same person Greg Gianforte sent out to lie to the press about his assault.
- his opposition to Pell Grants and other federal college aid.
- His decision to give press credentials to a militia news outlet at a campaign event.
- his support for Alabama’s Judge Roy Moore after allegations about his abuse of young women was uncovered
- His endorsement of a white supremacist candidate for the Legislature as “an ideal candidate.”
- ongoing frustration about inappropriate relationships and unfair discipline at the State Auditor’s office.
I get that the press in Montana is understaffed and under-resourced, but some of these damn stories practically write themselves, and, collectively, they paint the picture of someone who is not only unqualified for his current job but incredibly unqualified to be a member of the House of Representatives.
If Matt Rosendale is to win in November 2020, he needs us to forget who he really is, but it’s not too late for the press to dig into these stories and press for answers about his job performance as Auditor, his penchant for associating with bigots and anti-government zealots, and his inability to conduct a campaign in accordance with the law.
It’s not too late. In his fourth statewide race in the past handful of years, isn’t it time the media asked Matt Rosendale to defend who he really is?