Follow the money.
You can follow the money if you visit the Montana 2018 candidate FEC page.
The FEC reports only go from July 1 to December 31, 2017.
Most of the Montana media agencies have reported on the totals. What they haven’t reported on, however, are what exactly the candidates are spending their money on.
Today we’ll dig into that, focusing on all the out-of-state spending that could have been done in-state.
This is a big deal, and let me tell you why:
These candidates get tons of free, no-strings-attached money from individuals – both in-state and out-of-state – as well as PACs.
Sadly, many times these candidates – while saying they care about Montana – choose to spend that money with out-of-state firms.
- That does nothing to create jobs in Montana.
- It does nothing to help Montanans with healthcare or retirement.
- It does nothing to make our state better.
So we’ll follow the money, hoping against hope that reports like this hold these people accountable, and get them to change their tune.
We’re both smart enough to know that won’t happen, however.
These people don’t really care about Montana, they don’t really care about you. They care about themselves. The spending makes that clear.
Heenan raised $381,000, loaned himself $200,000 more, and he spent $206,000 over the last six months of 2017.
Lots of things in Heenan’s report are good – like the…
- $1,600 he gave to Bozeman’s 45North for graphic design
- $4,500 he gave to Billings’ Aces for printing
- $10,800 given to the Billings Times for printing
- $11,000 given to Missoula’s Campaign Compliance for accounting fees
That’s nearly $28,000 in in-state-spending.
That’s money that Montanans gave in small donations, and which Heenana then used in-state.
This is what our politicians should be doing.
Here’s the out-of-state spending, however, and it alarms me:
- $12,700 given to D.C.’s Berger Hirschberg Strategies for consulting, printing, phones, and software
- $1,700 given to Florida’s Create Studios, Inc. for website design
- $6,300 given to Portland’s Hayley Rumback Political Consultant, LLC for research
- $25,000 given to D.C.’s Middle Seat Consulting LLC for media consulting
- $7,000 given to D.C.’s New Blue Interactive, LLC for media consulting
- $5,900 given to Pittsburgh’s NGP Van Inc. for computer software
- $2,500 given to D.C.’s Sandler Reiff Lamb Rosenstein for legal fees
The total out-of-state spending comes to over $61,000. When you look at it like that, Heenan cares about Montana 1/3 of the time; he cares about out-of-staters 2/3 of the time.
Here’s the employee salary picture:
- Derek Ketner: $3,547 salary (he lives in California)
- Emily Harris: $1,996 salary
- Ben Darrow: $1,953 salary (he’s been paid $16,183 so far)
- Jodi Medlar: $1,611 salary
- Brieanna Ripley: $1,383 salary
- Suzanne Tarpey: $1,366 salary
- Tully Olson: $1,323 salary (she’s been paid $9,261 so far)
- Patrick Miron: $1,293 salary
- Blake Thompson: $1,293 salary
That’s nearly $16,000 in salary each month.
Additionally, $59,039 was given to Virginia’s Paychex for payroll taxes and payroll expenses.
When you look at it like that, about $100,000 of the money that Heenan raised – or 30% - goes just to keep 9 people on staff.
I have to say, I’m also alarmed that the Heenan campaign paid $5,000 in rent in 2017 to Heenan Properties LLC, based out of Billings. Is this ethical?
Kier raised $441,000 over the last six months of 2017 and he spent $133,000. Here’s how that breaks down for in-state spending.
- $14,000 to Missoula’s Campaign Compliance for accounting fees
- $3,500 to Nick and Robin Checota to hold an event at the Bonner Amphitheater
- $4,700 to East Helena’s Element L Design for graphic design and printing
- $2,800 to Dallas’ Health Insurance Service Corporation for health insurance
- $1,400 to Helena’s Placer Plaza, Inc. for rent
The in-state-spending I just listed comes to over $26,000.
Here’s the out-of-state spending:
- $400 to Chicago’s Apollo Artistry for website maintenance
- $2,800 to Chicago’s Blue State Digital for digital media consulting
- $28,000 to D.C.’s Break Something LLC for fundraising consulting
The out-of-state spending comes to over $31,000. When you look at it like that, Kier cares about Montana about half the time and out-of-staters about half the time.
Here’s the employee salary picture:
- Derek McDonald: $1,539 salary, though he’s made $13,506 from the campaign so far
- Jacob Brown: $1,800 salary, though he’s made $14,569 from the campaign so far
- Meaghan Baily: $1,316 salary
Additionally, $40,691 was paid to Virginia’s Paychex for payroll taxes and payroll expenses
As you can see, Kier has his payroll situation a lot more under control than Heenan does. He’s spending about $4,600 a month, or around $12,000 less than Heenan. Despite that, his payroll expenses were only $18,000 less than Heenan’s over the same period.
If you’ve read this site for awhile, you’re probably recognizing a lot of names.
For instance, Apollo Artistry got $6,500 from Rob Quist this time last year to design his website. Grant Kier has chosen to use the same firm, despite Quist losing.
Just about every major Democrat in the state uses East Helena’s Element L Design, same with Missoula’s Campaign Compliance.
I am saddened to see that Heenan has hired Emily Harris for his campaign. Denise Juneau paid her $1,414 ever two weeks. Harris won, Juneau lost.
For some reason, Rob Quist thought it’d be a good idea to get Harris on staff, and he began paying her $2,544 a month. Harris won, Quist lost.
Now Heenan is paying her $1,966 a month. You just can’t fix stupid.
Mostly, you can’t fix the Democratic mindset in Montana.
The two leading U.S. House campaigns are currently using the same tired old marketing and consulting firms, still wasting too much money on payroll, and they’re paying the same kinds of ‘professional’ political operatives that have worked on failed U.S. House campaigns in the past.
Money talks and bullshit walks and I think you can see quite clearly that Dems have learned nothing from their losses over the past two cycles.
I doubt they’ll have learned anything new by 2020, when yet another gaggle of Dems puts their name in to try and get rid of the Republican.