These reports cover the month of April 2018.
You can find the Democrats’ report here, while the GOP report is here.
Let’s follow the money.
The Montana Republicans April 2018 Finances
It’s a shorter report – just 33 pages.
In it we find that the Montana GOP had over $89,000 cash on hand as April began. They raised nearly $64,000 and spent $33,000, leaving them with $120,000 cash on hand as May began.
When we break donations down further, we find that $3,600 came from individuals, while another $35,000 was transferred from other party committees.
While the Montana Democrats rely on ActBlue for their online donations, the Montana GOP seems to rely on both Anedot and eDonation.com.
When it comes to individual and PAC contributors, here are some names that stood out to me:
- The Gianforte Victory Fund gave $19,798
- The RNC gave $15,535
- Dean Swank gave $500
- Nancy Balance gave $199
Besides a New York donation, one from Florida, and a couple from Texas, the rest of the Montana GOP’s individual donations came from Montanans.
Here are some things that stood out to me when it comes to GOP spending for April:
- $2,500 was given to Virginia’s Advantage Direct Communications for data consulting.
- Over $3,000 was given to Kansas’ Southwest Publishing & Mailing Corporation for fundraising direct mail. Um…a Montana firm couldn’t have done that?!?
- Nearly $1,500 was given to Boston’s Red Curve Solutions for compliance consulting.
- $1,000 was spent renting out the Billings Hotel and Convention Center on April 17.
- $750 was given to Florida’s Steve Brown Direct Marketing for fundraising direct mail.
In addition to those disbursements, we see that the Montana GOP has the following debts:
- $10,100 to Minnesota’s Strategic Fundraising for fundraising and voter ID tests.
- $1,761 to Helena’s James Brown Law Office for legal fees.
- $450 was given to Maryland’s Clockwork Systems for data management services.
When it comes to the employee picture, it breaks down like so:
- Patrick Webb: $4,104.74 in salary for April
- Wyatt Bertsch: $2,668.22
- John Durnal: $2,271.68
- John Branham: $279.18
It cost the Montana Republican Party $9,323 to pay its 4 employees each month.
In addition, it costs another $3,349 to pay payroll taxes on those staffers, and another $797 for their health insurance.
The Montana GOP didn’t spend any money eating out or traveling for April.
The Montana Democrats April 2018 Finances
They had over $529,000 cash on hand as April began, and they raised another $351,000 while spending $204,000.
As May began, the Montana Democratic Party had over $676,000 cash on hand.
Individuals gave $58,000 to the Dems in April, while PACs gave them $56,000. Another $234,000 was transferred in from affiliated party committees.
The finance rules on these “transfers from affiliated/other party committees” is allowed by the FEC, with them stating that “a party committee may receive unlimited transfers of permissible funds from other party committees and party organizations.”
The key word there is “unlimited.”
Yes, the curse of money in politics continues to plague us.
There’s about 40 pages of individual contributions in the Democrat report.
Here are some names that stood out to me:
- Matt Bell
- Bryce Bennett
- Garrett Lankford
- Jill Lombardi
- Mary Sexton
- Katie Sullivan
- Tim Warner
- Patrick Weasel Head
While many individual donations came from Montanans, I was alarmed to see so many coming from Vermont and Illinois and such places.
How is the Montana Democratic Party benefiting those donors, I wonder?
- One that I especially liked was Andrew Markoff giving $105 to the Party. His employer is Kathleen Williams for Montana, and he lives in New York.
- The largest donation was nearly $18,000 from the DSCC on April 5, with another $9,000 coming from them eight days later.
- The DSCC gave an additional $5,000 on April 23, as well as an extra $170,000 the next day. Two days after that they gave another $4,500, bringing their April total above $200,000.
It’s clear from that money trail alone that national Dems are very worried that Tester will lose.
- The second largest donation was $15,000 from the DNC on April 23. They gave another $3,000 a week later.
- One that alarmed me was the $10,000 donation from the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community. This tribe is based out of Minnesota.
- Another $10,000 donation came from D.C.’s Democratic Grassroots Victory Fund.
- Another one that I took note of was the $5,000 the D.C.-based Air Line Pilots Association PAC gave to the MT Dems.
- Yet another one is the $5,000 the Country Roads PAC – based out of West Virginia – gave to the Party.
- The Dakota Prairie PAC – based not in the Dakotas, but in D.C. – also gave $5,000, as did Virginia’s Forward Together PAC.
- Minnesota’s Follow the North Star Fund gave the Party $2,500, as did the D.C.-based National Air Traffic Controllers Association PAC. Pfizer’s PAC only gave $1,000.
Here are some more PACs that gave the Montana Democrats $5,000:
- D.C.’s Great Lakes PAC
- Indiana’s Hoosiers First PAC
- Boston’s Liberty Mutual Insurance Company PAC
- D.C.’s Moderate Democrats PAC
- D.C.’s Oceans PAC
As you can see, we have $280,000 in PAC and political committee transfers.
Compare that to the $58,000 given by individuals (half of whom come from out-of-state).
Which group do you think Montana Democratic leaders are going to work harder for…regular people, or the big money outfits that keep them in the high life?
In their report, the Montana Democrats figure that 74% of their costs were directed at federal election efforts, while 26% went to nonfederal.
Most of the first 10 pages of disbursements shows us payments to Act Blue for donation processing fees, and payments to City National Bank and Direct Connect for credit card processing fees.
Here are some other things that stood out to me:
- D.C.’s Maxfield Strategic Communications Resea was given nearly $18,000 for polling.
- Helena’s Fairgrounds got $6,408 from the Dems so they could rent out a site there.
- On April 23, the Dems paid $6,254 to rent out the Colonial for an event.
- Missoula’s Campaign Compliance was given $3,538 for accounting work.
- D.C.’s New Blue Interactive was given $3,500 for donor development.
- California legal firm Gordon & Schwenkmeyer got over $1,000 from the MT Dems last month.
- Missoula’s Logjam Presents gave over $1,000 in food and meals to the Party via the Montana Conservation Voters.
- Missoula’s MontPIRG was given $500, though it’s not clear why.
- Montana Democrats gave $505 to Helena’s Big Sky Web.com for web services/email, but also gave Chicago’s Blue State Digital $950 for the same thing, and Dallas’s Lexis Nexis was given $668 for the same thing and North Carolina’s New Media Campaigns was given $414 for the same thing! So much for in-state-jobs being important, eh?
- In a similar example, California’s NewEgg Computers was given $967 for computers…even though a Montana company could have supplied the exact same thing.
- On April 13, the Montana Democratic Party paid the $15 filing fee for one of their candidates.
- On April 13, the Dems spent $942 with Amazon for event supplies…though I’m sure a Helena company probably had most of what they’re looking for. I say this because that same day, the Dems spent almost $380 on event supplies at Helena’s Dollar Tree. Interestingly, that same day the Dems actually went to Hobby Lobby and spent $61 for event supplies.
Staffing, Eating Out, and Healthcare
When it comes to staff, you can tell that the Montana Democratic Party has replaced most of the old faces with new faces.
In fact, hardly anyone that was working there a year ago is still there! I’ll put those longer-term employees in bold. Here’s how it breaks down:
- Nancy Keenan: $6,175.62 in monthly salary
- Megan Simpson: $6,146.54
- Austin Lyle: $4,580.62
- Trent Bolger: $4,491.99
- Ted Dick: $4,437.6
- Julie Laliberte: $3,861.04
- Brooke Bainum: $3,708.86
- Roy Lowenstein: $3,328.42
- Justin Ailport: $3,198.69
- Nick Lockridge: $3,100.96
- Luke Siebert: $2,773.28
- Yetta Stein: $1,996.79
- Olivia Stilils: $1,689.21
- Paul Weborg: $1,689.21
- Dylan Wells: $1,225.77
- Jane Jacoby: $1,225.77
- Josiah Porcel: $1,225.77
- Nicholas Phalen: $1,225.77
- Blair Monson: $1,205.02
- Walker Conyngham: $1,205.02
- Brendan Koch: $1,203.29
- Gwendolyn Coon: $1,155.02
- Allison Dale-Riddle: $930.41
Those 23 staffers made $61,781 for the month of April…which is over $3,000 more than they actually brought in with individual donations.
You can tell why the Montana Democratic Party desperately needs their PAC money – they couldn’t keep living high on the hog without it.
In addition to those 23 salaries, we also had nearly $91,000 paid out to Virginia’s PayChex for payroll taxes and other accounting work for those employees, and another $5,438 for their health insurance.
Montana Democrats also ate out 25 times in April, for a total of $1,449. In addition to this, another $2,322 was spent on airline tickets and hotels during the month.
So it costs the Montana Democratic Party nearly $162,000 just to keep its 23 staffers, wine and dine ‘em, as well as look after their health.
I personally find this level of waste to be alarming, yet it’s been going on since I started telling you about these reports over a year ago.
And it’ll continue, unabated and unchallenged, for years to come.
Democrats have a lot more people on staff, and they cater to their ‘needs’ a lot more.
Despite that, most call Montana a red state.
- Trump won here by over 20 points, and we haven’t elected a Democrat to the U.S. House in 22 years.
- Democrats haven’t had both chambers of the legislature since 1991, and they haven’t had a single chamber since 2007.
- Jon Tester has never won with even 50% of the vote, and continually relies on (and funds) a Libertarian so he can 'win.'
One takeaway I get from these reports is that it’s not really about winning – it’s about protecting the entitled at the top.
For instance, the Executive Director of the Montana Democratic Party is making $74,000 a year in salary.
Doesn’t seem too populist or progressive to me, but I don’t think those ideologies have been the goal of Montana Democrats for some time.
The top employee for the Montana GOP makes just over $49,000 a year, for comparison’s sake.
In fact, Montana Dems spent a whopping $148,000 more on their employees than the Montana Republicans did!
Montana Republicans are lucky that the Montana Democrats are so incompetent with their money, and lack leadership to boot.
Most of all, I just find it a bit humorous that Democrats outspend and outraise Republicans by over a 2-to-1 margin, yet they still can’t win in this state.
But who knows? Perhaps a few more staffers and a few more lunches out will solve that for the Dems.