I suspect election returns will look quite similar to this fundraising graph from Open Secrets:
We’re going to talk about that money a bit today, mainly focusing on how much the PACs are giving.
So without further ado, let’s begin following the money.
A Summary of Political Money in Montana in 2018 (So Far)
I fully suspect that someone will declare for governor by October.
Until then…let’s ask a simple question: where do these political hopefuls get their dough?
Mostly from PACs and from individuals.
The largest PACs in the 2018 cycle in Montana are as follows:
- Treasure State PAC: $245,000
- Washington Corp: $128,000
- Big Sky Opportunity PAC: $71,000
- Pioneer Medical Center: $65,000
- JC Billion Inc.: $54,000
The top industries that are giving to politicians in Montana in 2018 are as follows:
- Retired People: $1.5 million
- Lawyers: $366,000
- Leadership PACs: $322,000
- Homemakers/Non-income earners: $305,000
- Health Professionals: $269,000
The top locations for 2018 political donations in Montana are as follows:
- Billings: $1.5 million
- Missoula: $1.2 million
- Bozeman: $738,000
- Helena: $391,000
- Great Falls: $334,000
- Whitefish: $250,000
We know that $4.9 million in donations have come from Montanans this cycle so far. But the top locations for 2018 political donations outside Montana are as follows:
- California: $1.5 million
- New York: $1 million
- Texas: $600,000
- Illinois: $450,000
- Florida: $375,000
Next up is Matt Rosendale, with $1 million.
Yeah…I know – California Troy and Maryland Matt. God, what has happened to this state!?!
Anyways, Troy’s FEC reports are here, and we have to rely on the first 3 months of this year for our information (the next reports won’t be out until mid-July (I know…federal campaign finance reporting laws do a greater disservice to citizen oversight than state campaign finance reporting laws)).
Troy has taken a page from Tester’s book – do the report on paper, scan it, and then fax it to the FEC.
This way common citizens like us aren’t able to use the Ctrl-F keyboard search function to pinpoint exact details quickly, like the word “PAC.”
Troy’s quarterly report is 90 pages, so it takes a lot longer going through it, often leading to the kind of frustration that makes you say, To hell with it, I’m closing this damn thing down and doing something else!
Politicians love it when this happens.
And another huge frustration from our citizen perspective is that PACs can spend money on the candidate’s behalf, and candidates often don’t have to put this in their own reports.
We see this quite clearly with Matt Rosendale, who we’ll look at in a moment.
Troy only shows $5,500 in PAC donations for the first three months of this year.
I’m not going to go through his report, and Open Secrets doesn’t have a detailed candidate page for him.
When we learn the winner of the primary, this stuff will become more important.
I hope staffers on the Dem winners’ campaign will print out these reports, go through them, and find winning points that will resonate with voters via Facebook, and possibly even radio and TV, ads.
Let’s move on to Maryland Matt…
We learned in April that an Illinois billionaire was giving $1.2 million to fund radio and TV ads supporting Matt Rosendale through his Restoration PAC.
At least $518,000 of that money was used to make ads criticizing Tester.
Another PAC funded by the same billionaire is Americas PAC, and they’ve spent $700,000 over the past six months to promote Rosendale and tear-down Tester.
The guy behind these PACs is named Richard Uihlein, and he owns a shipping-and-packaging materials company in Wisconsin.
And Montana is lucky – the guy has spent $20 million so far this cycle, with just a thin stream reaching us.
Most of Restoration PAC’s money goes to a company called Strategic Media Services. The PAC really loves Wisconsin’s Kevin Nicholson, who’s gotten $2.5 million worth of ads in his favor. The PAC hates that state’s Tammy Baldwin, whose seen $541,000 spent against her (West Virginia’s Joe Manchin has only had $18,000 spent against him).
Most of Americas PAC’s money goes to Milwaukee Radio Group, $542,000. Next up is Townsquare Media here in Montana, which has received $455,000. So far this PAC has spent $695,000 on pro-Rosendale ads.
You can find Rosendale’s FEC reports here. His report was also done by hand and faxed.
Again, I hate this and I feel it’s done so slimy politicians can hide things. Mostly, they don’t want people like you or I looking into what they’re doing.
Rosendale took $24,000 from PACs during the first three months of this year.
Some PACs that stood out to me as I scanned a few pages were:
- Club For Growth PAC $6,000
- Senate Conservatives Fund: $5,000
The Club For Growth PAC has already spent $6.9 million in 2018 races.
Matt Rosendale is the #4 recipient of this PAC’s money.
Then in February 2018, Roll Call reported that Gianforte was in fact taking PAC money as he sought to keep that seat.
Turns out he took nearly $20,000 worth of the stuff as 2017 ended.
It “came from coal companies, a private prison company, BNSF Railway, Lowe’s, Home Depot, UPS, a timberland company and Koch Industries.”
I’m sure there’s a lot more PAC money, but we won’t know until Gianforte’s next report is out.
So what about Gianforte’s numerous Democratic opponents, many of whom will be whittled away in 10 days?
The top two are Heenan and Kier, and I’m not sure if they’re taking any PAC money.
Of course, if they are, it’ll only be the good PACs that they’re taking from…right?
We’re lucky in that Heenan’s pre-primary finance report was published today. It’s 156 pages.
Heenan’s FEC report tells us that he’s taken $5,300 from PACs and/or committees so far this cycle, with about $111 coming over the past month or so.
We know from Grant Kier’s 334-page April Quarterly report that he took $6,300 from PACs and/or committees since his campaign started.
Montana Democratic PAC Money
In it we find that Tester took over $3 million from PACs in just the first three months of this year.
More than all the other Montana Democratic and Republican House and Senate candidates combined.
And here I thought it was the GOP that loved the PAC money.
I guess we can put that fallacy to rest.
And let’s not forget that Bullock’s PAC – the Big Sky Values PAC – raised $464,000 in 2017…with 84% of it coming from out-of-state.
Here’s a list of the donors and industries giving to Bullock’s PAC.
His largest expenditure this cycle has been $120,000…on fundraising.
In effect, he’s raising money so he can raise more money. Talk about a vicious cycle.
Dems love their PAC money, more so than Republicans, at least in this state.
In fact, when I dug into MT Dem and GOP finances yesterday, we found that more PACs are giving more money to Dems than to Republicans.
When we look further, we see that transfers from national parties and federally registered party committees are like so:
Democrats get 77% of that money while Republicans get 23%.
And it’s a lot of money being transferred around: $588,000 so far this cycle.
One that I find particularly humorous is the $5,000 the Montana Democratic Party took from the Oceans PAC.
Um…isn’t Montana about 800 miles from the nearest ocean?
We’re a landlocked state – what the hell is an ‘oceans’ PAC giving us money for?
Well, when you follow the money you find this PAC isn’t really about oceans at all. In fact, its website tells you nothing…just has a donate form below an image of a lighthouse.
It’s a small PAC: it took in $349,000 this year and has spent $316,000 of that.
Most of their money comes from lawyers, $41,000 so far this cycle.
Next is securities & investment firms, then Big Pharma, followed by electronics manufacturing, building trade unions, and telecoms.
Yes, the rich and entitled.
Those are the primary donors to ‘our’ politicians here in Montana: rich and entitled folks, most of whom aren’t even living here.
That’s Democracy in action today.