There are a total of 66 people that are registered to lobby the 2019 Montana Legislature for 169 different groups.
I know this because I visited COPP.
Let me give you a quick run-through of how the website for the Montana Commissioner of Political Practices (COPP) actually works when it comes to lobbying.
First, you need to visit COPP’s lobbying page.
After that you need to scroll down a bit until you find the section on “Lobbying Information,” and in there will be a link to both digital and hard copy reports for the years 2009-2019.
Some lobbyists work for several different outfits. David Galt is a fine example of this.
Although this man’s lobbying license was never completely filed, he still manages to work for:
- The Association of Montana Retired Public Employees
- Calumet Montana Refining LLC
- BNSF Railway Company
- Montana Contractors Association
- Presby Environmental, Inc.
We can click on the link to each of those groups, and if we do so for Calumet we find that besides Galt, the group also has Brian Thompson lobbying for them.
In addition to Calumet, Thompson also works for:
- The Montana Contractors Compensation Fund
- BNSF Railway Company
- Montana Collectors Association
- Montana Contractors Association
- Association of Montana Retired Public Employees
Some lobbyist names stood out to me, and I decided to dig into what they’re doing.
Clayton Elliott: Political watchers will remember the role this man played in Amanda Curtis’s 2014 Senate run. He’s now lobbying for Montana Trout Unlimited and is being paid $4,656 by the group to do that. There are around 30 to 40 bills he’s either supporting or opposing or monitoring or seeking to modify. You can see a list of those bills here, though they have no descriptive titles.
Steve Gibson: This man lobbies for Montanans Against Tax Hikes. So far he’s listed no expenses in his lobbying report. He’s currently in charge of $925,000 for Altria Client Services to lobby against any kind of tobacco tax increases or new regulations.
Aimee Grmoljez: This woman has lobbied for 24 different groups over the past two sessions. You can see those groups here. Interestingly, I don’t see her working at all this year.
Dennis Iverson: Political watchers will know that this man works for the Montana Group. He’s currently authorized to lobby for Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) as well as Northern Montana Oil & Gas Association. Big Pharma is paying him $3,333 in salary so he can monitor any kind of pharmaceutical issues that might come up. As of now, no money has been earmarked to lobby on those issues. The group plans to spend $40,000 this session. I see no money listed for the second group he lobbies for. Also, if you dig into his lobbying applications you’ll see he applied for a lot of other lobbyists to work.
Jeff Mangan: The head of COPP is also authorized to lobby, and he’s already been paid $2,300 to do that. He’s supporting LC325, LC350, HB181, SB105, SB109, SB150, and SB154.
Lawrence Noonan: This man is lobbying for the Montana Beer & Wine Wholesalers Association. Sadly, their latest reports is from 2005. When you change the name to Montana Beer & Wine Distributors Assoc. Association, however, you learn that the group has spent $6,347 to lobby the legislature, and that includes $318 on printing, $100 on other office expenses, and $82 on entertainment. Noonan will be seeking to modify HB84 on winery reports; monitor HB261 on veterans events; monitor HB277 on special spirits; monitor HB182 on subdividing distilleries; support SB65 DUI bill; and oppose both HB250 the winery bill and HB185 the expanded brewery bill. When it comes to the $82 spent on entertainment we know that Representatives Zach Brown, Tom Woods, Derek Harvey and Senator Nate McConnell all had $20.62 spent on their behalf at Friendly’s so they’ll see this man’s way.
Brian Ohs: Even though our laws say you have to file your lobbying report by February 15, this man chose not to do so.
Now let’s explore some of the 160+ groups that are authorized to lobby the 150 legislators we have up in the Capitol.
Many of these groups are based in Montana - the “M” listing has the most groups - but many are national.
For instance, we have the following working to affect our laws and our way of life here:
- Americans for Prosperity
- Bristol-myers Squibb
- Everytown for Gun Safety
- Exxon Mobil
- Juul Labs
- National Rifle Association
- Phillips 66
- Strategies 360
Let’s get into a few of these groups to see what they’re doing:
AARP: This senior citizen group has paid $9,800 to lobby the legislature so far. They’re hoping to see 12 different issues/bills pass. The group has three lobbyists working for them and so far they’ve spent $500 entertaining legislators...though the specifics of this are not listed.
Altria: This pro-tobacco group lists over $77,000 spent so far to lobby the legislature. We know that Altria had Hawaii’s Ocean Golf Course pay $42.55 to Scott Sales. Why? I don’t know.
Everytown for Gun Safety: This group has spent $12,000 so far to lobby. They oppose HB145, HB325, HB357, LC1515, and LC1516.
Exxon Mobil: This group has spent $3,433 so far lobbying against SB141 Waters Edge Repeal; HB193 Carbon Tax; and SB189 Carbon Tax.
Facebook: The social media giant has spent nearly $2,700 to lobby, though no bills are listed that they either support or oppose.
Juuls Labs: This hook-em-on-nicotine-while-they’re-young company is spending $1,540 to lobby the legislature. They support HB184. They oppose SB96, SB122, HB121, HB266, and HB312.
Monsanto: The largest poisoner of our foods is spending $1,500 to lobby, though no specific bills are listed.
The NRA: Brian Judy is the principle lobbyist for this gun group, which is spending $5,800 to lobby this year. They support HB145; HB 226 shooting range tax exemption; and HB325 & HB 357 preemption. They oppose SB 95 domestic violence. The big expenditure this session was $2,452 on the Colonial Hotel for a function that all legislators were invited to.
Pfizer: This drug group is spending over $3,000 to lobby, though no bills are listed.
That’s all I’m going to dig into today.
I really wish our newspapers and our TV station reporters would dig into this, but they choose not to...despite COPP telling us for weeks that February 15 was the day these reports would come out.
I don’t know why they do that. It makes me sad for the future of our state.
Posts like this are a big reason I’m read by people all over Montana. Our paid media-types shouldn’t allow this, but they choose not to cover these issues.
Someone has to.
Thanks for reading.