Republicans Back At Their Dirty Tricks to Get the Green Party on the Ballot

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Montana Republican groups are so desperate to get the Green Party on the ballot here in Montana that they’re once again relying on an out-of-state outfit to scam Montana voters into believing they are signing grassroots petitions to give the party ballot access.

If you run into some signature collectors in Helena, Bozeman, Missoula or other towns where they have been reported to be working, be sure to ask them who is funding the effort. It’s not Montanans; it’s the Washington D.C. based right-wing Club for Growth, who filed their form to form a committee for minor party qualification at the Commissioner of Political Practices Office on February 6.

You might be familiar with the Club for Growth. The right-wing front group that stands for the destruction of unions, gutted environmental regulations, and privatization of public education has been the single biggest funder of Matt Rosendale’s campaign for higher office and announced in July that it had already raised $250,000 for his 2020 House bid.

Their effort to qualify the Green Party is little more than a cynical ploy to maximize the value of their dark money operation: qualifying Green Party candidates who might siphon off one or two percent in close races almost certainly is more affordable than running expensive ads trying to convince people that Matt Rosendale is actually a rancher or that Steve Daines won’t give himself another massive tax cut.

Signing a petition to get the Greens on the ballot isn’t demonstrating support for more voices in our political system; it’s empowering Republicans who want to gain the system the same way they tried to do in 2018 before they got caught breaking signature gathering laws.

Back then, Republicans broke almost every campaign reporting regulation imaginable in their effort to elevate the Greens and went as far as nominating a Republican to run in one of the primaries.

This time, they’re sure to be more careful, so we must remain vigilant. Let your friends know not to sign off on these petitions, which not only undermine Montana elections but the efforts of real grassroots efforts in the state to collect signatures.

You don’t have to take my word for it that these efforts are dishonest. The Montana Green Party posted the following on their Facebook page today:

We have been receiving notice that there are people falsely collecting information on behalf of the Green Party. As of this moment, we are still in legal battle with a lawsuit against the state of MT, and in such a state are not collecting, nor have we hired or asked for volunteers to collect information this 2020cycle.

Keep in mind that for the last few years there are individuals who seek nothing more than to smear our name and mission by using very rude and impractical methods, in these cases impersonation to degrade our cause. This is an ongoing effort led by plants from the mainstream parties who wish for nothing more than to end any resistance to the two party corporate duopoly that dares toe the line.

Any individual acting in rude or suspicious behavior claiming to be collecting information on our behalf is not affiliated with our name or mission. Please report to us any information or incidents that occur.

Friends don’t let friends sign sham petitions for the Green Party. Let’s not let Matt Rosendale’s friends from the D.C. swamp interfere in yet another Montana election.

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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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.

16 Comments

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  • Here’s another idea for your sleuthing efforts: Reliable sources close to have confirmed that Gianforte is directing money to at least one PAC that is supporting Whitney Williams. Clearly he knows she’s the weaker candidate in the general election.

  • Yup there is a strange woman downtown in the 400 block in Helena. collecting today. I signed and I’m going down tomorrow to unsigned….sad that no one is to be trusted.

  • MT already has a third party. Libertarian. So why push for the Green Party? For the ignorant Democrats who might vote for Green candidates thinking they were champion for the environmental movement and climate control?

    • The Green Party philosophy is very different from the Libertarian Party’s. While we have something in common with the Libertarian Party, which is that we are generally shut out of most debates, and off many state ballots, there is no reason why the number of parties should be limited.

      • Check the MT Constitution. There is NO requirement to declare one’s party affiliation. So why do any of us persist in playing their game of politics by complying ????

  • Another operative at the last chance P O today. I was going to get them in video but this guy looked formidable so I just chatted him up while I signed my bogus name and address. He said he worked for, was a member of and got a check from the Green Party. I complained inside the post office and they gave me this number to call the main office. The person answering told me it was illegal to collect signatures on Fed property and said the world send someone down. Phone is 443-3287, fraud chaps me!

  • The fake Green Party peeps still collecting signatures in for Helena…and I am still chatting with them about who is paying them. Most of them seem hardened to me, so I don’t argue as I sign a false signature. This week they are purporting to be “volunteers “ from Missoula. I can’t find a working phone number for GP to report them. Frustrating.

    • If you’ve actually followed the story, Jonah, it’s the far-right Club for Growth that is behind the signature gathering. The Greens have disavowed any attempt to get signatures in this election cycle. The “dirty tricks” you refer to are an attempt by certain Republican operatives to split the Democratic vote. They pulled this same stunt in the 2018 election cycle, or tried to, until a judge nixed the Green Party ballot line because of signature gathering irregularities.

      • It’s true that there are imposters collecting signatures. They have done that in past elections, not to actually turn in valid signatures but presenting their petitions in ways intended to make the Green Party look bad.

        It’s true that the Green Party is not collecting signatures in Montana this year. The reason is that the Democratic Party arranged to change the laws in 2018 to make it so hard to get on the ballot that it was probably impossible, and the Green Party is suing.

        So I don’t know whether the fake signature collectors are Democrat dirty tricks still trying to make the Greens look bad, or if they are somehow Republican dirty tricks intended to actually meet the signature requirements to get the Green Party on the ballot after all, when the Green Party thinks it can’t be done. Or perhaps it might be some unrelated scam, some group that just wants to collect names and addresses for their own purpose.

        But it’s in the context of the successful Democrat dirty tricks intended to keep the Greens off the ballot. Unless the court case gets resolved quickly enough, there will be no Greens on the ballot until at least 2022.

        • It’s simple, Jonah, Las Vegas based Advanced Micro Targeting, a political consulting firm which does work for Republican candidates and ballot initiatives, hired signature gatherers to qualify the Green Party for the 2020 election. The goal is to siphon votes away from Democratic candidates. The far-right Club for Growth hired Advanced Micro Targeting but the big question is why? Republican U.S. House candidate Matt Rosendale has close ties to Club for Growth, so there’s speculation he could be involved. Unfortunately, the Club for Growth isn’t exactly forthcoming on how it intends to influence Montana elections.

          • Thanks for the good info on this Pete. Reading Jonah’s opinion blaming dems gives me a negative opinion of the Green Party in this state. I continue to sign these petitions in Helena with a bogus identity, and asking the people who they work for , where they are from and who pays them. All of them present a hardness as I watch them lie. Then I go into the business and complain and someone runs them off. Many people dislike manipulation of our election system.

  • Why do do you say this? Montanapost has identified a dark money group paying signature gatherers… what connection to dems?

    • Democrats are the ones who have done dirty tricks to keep the Green Party off the ballot. To the point that the Green Party cannot get itself onto the ballot.

      In 2016 the Green Party managed to get a write-in campaign. The Libertarian candidate got 28,000 votes. The Green candidate got less than 8,000. That helped Trump win, although it didn’t really matter since he won by more than 100,000 votes.

      In 2020 the Libertarian party is in even better shape in Montana, and the Greens aren’t even running. They might decide to run if they win the lawsuit that might let them get onto the ballot. If they do run — late — they won’t nearly match the Libertarians.

      So if a bunch of rich Republicans can actually get the Green Party on the ballot in Montana, I can’t think of a better way for them to spend their money.

      Many places in the USA, the Greens have on average gotten 1/3 as many votes as Libertarians, when both are on the ballot. If the unfair advantage that the Libertarians give the Democrats is cut by 1/3, that’s no big harm to democracy and it’s very good for the Greens.

      And if the Democrats want to win against Trump, there’s an obvious solution. Just run a candidate who’s clearly better than Trump. In 2016 they ran one who was not obviously better, so the election was close enough for Republican unfair advantages to win. (But if the Libertarian votes had gone to the GOP and the Green votes had gone to the DP, Trump would have won easily.) Run a candidate that’s clearly better than Trump and there should be no problem.

      • Hell, both parties play games! Look at the “dark connections & money” behind the Daines/Tester/CSKT water bill S3019. Connections to Denny Rehberg, Mongolian govt, his son A.J and his company: Mongolia Forward, Mercury, etc. I wish you cover that, Pete. MT water is at stake!

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