Additionally, it appears that the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation paid for the mailers using at least some of a $250,000 grant that had some matching funds with Stanford.
I expect there will be a lot more digging on this as the day turns to night. Stay tuned to Montana’s major blogs…Montana Cowgirl, Flathead Memo, and Big Sky Words.
Were any laws broken? That’s what it comes down to and we’ll have to dig into the Montana Code Annotated a bit, a real headache…and perhaps why there’s been no news.
This is what I found, starting with prohibitions concerning mailings:
13-35-603. Prohibitions concerning mailings. A third-party registrar may not mail a voter registration or absentee ballot application in the same envelope as campaign literature if the envelope is marked to resemble a mailing from an election office.
In that same Act, campaign literature is defined as:
13-35-602. Definitions. As used in this part, the following definitions apply:
(1) "Campaign literature" means material that advocates the success or defeat of a candidate, political party, or ballot issue.
(2) "Third-party registrar" means a person, other than an election official, who is supporting an organized effort to register voters or to assist voters in applying for absentee ballots.
In that regard, they need to be registered as advocating on that candidates behalf…but which candidate? With the mailer in question, it’d have to be the Republican-supported candidates, and I think we know which ones those are.
Remember, I’m not saying their hands are dirty, it’s just that they sure don’t seem to mind this benefit, and even seem to bask in it. The Montana Republican Party has already tried to spin this into an ‘informative’ mailer for voters, which they claim benefits them.
Does it benefit the voter, or the candidate? Was something illegal?
See, I doubt there’s been any official misconduct by the campaigns:
13-35-204. Official misconduct. A person charged with performance of any duty under the provisions of the election laws of this state is guilty of official misconduct and is punishable as provided in 45-7-401 whenever the person:
(1) knowingly neglects or refuses to perform that duty; or
(2) knowingly and fraudulently acts, in the person's official capacity, in contravention or violation of any provision of the election laws.
Deceptive election practices might get more at what ails us here in Montana with these mailers…but again, that just gets to candidates, not those damn PACs, which were probably responsible for this.
How about deceiving an elector? No, that’s more to do with something else. Illegal influence of voters might be something that could work, however…but again, I’m not sure. I’d imagine this list has been bandied about this morning in the Capitol, huh?
There’s one last one, and that has to do with fraud & swindles and goes with sending things in the federal mail. I’m not sure there’s anything there.
For if there was, why would it take so long? Could it be that we need to know who to charge? And if that’s the case, we need to know who paid for that mailer.
So who paid for the damn thing? Great question, few answers…and as of now, I’m still not sure any laws were broken.
We’ve reached a standstill, and hopefully something else will develop before the day is through...or any other jokers get it in their heads to try 'breaking the law.'