Hence the fewer posts than usual on this site.
After heading out with my son this morning I decided to do a different sort of fishing.
Fishing for facts about our Montana House race.
That’s easy to do when you know how to dig into the Federal Election Committee reports.
Yep, you get all of this information on the FEC’s website.
Boy, they don’t make it real easy to find, either!
I can see why lots of people (read Montana reporters) don’t bother to dig into this stuff.
Anyways, let’s get started.
Let’s get to the main players.
First off is the Republican National Committee, or RNC, followed by the National Republican Congressional Committee, or NRCC.
And then we have the CLF, which we should take a moment to fully understand.
The Congressional Leadership Fund (CLF) is a GOP super PAC that was started in October 2011.
Its goal was to counter the Democrats’ House Majority PAC, a super PAC that was started six months earlier, in April 2011.
In 2014 the CLF spent nearly $12 million electing 16 GOP candidates to the U.S. House and in 2016 they spent over $30 million to help 29 candidates win.
It appears that the super PAC is more like a holding company, however.
They’ve raised $104 million since 2011 but have only spent about $20 million on U.S. House races.
And they had just $2 million a year ago.
So where’s the money?
It’s a good question, and would probably make for a good story.
But let’s continue.
When we look at independent expenditures made in support of Rob Quist we see that the following has been spent:
- $25,000 by Planned Parenthood on May 5 for mailings
- $37,000 by Planned Parenthood on May 3 for mailings
- $32,000 by Planned Parenthood on May 3 for mailings
That’s $94,000 that Planned Parenthood is spending, and they’re about the only one throwing big money around so far.
It seems that the Progressive Turnout Project began covering a lot of the mundane costs of the Quist campaign beginning around the end of April.
- $8,500 for payroll
- $4,800 for computer services and supplies
- $4,100 for payroll taxes
- $2,000 for rent
- $1,600 for travel
- $750 for printing
All that stuff comes out to nearly $22,000.
So who is Progressive Turnout Project?
In 2016 the PAC took in $5.1 million and spent $4.7 million, according to Open Secrets.
Most of the money they raise (40%) goes to pay their own salaries, which cost $80,000 in 2016.
Besides that they spent $65,000 on fundraising (mostly for consulting), $25,000 on administrative expenses (mainly rent), $25,000 on unclassifiable expenses (mainly printing and shipping), and $5,000 on strategy and research.
The group they like to give money to the most is Mothership Strategies, whom they gave $768,000 to last year.
You’ll remember that Rob Quist gave Mothership Strategies $25,000 in March for digital media and advertising.
When it comes to Mothership Strategies, the company is based out of D.C. and has raised more than $200 million for the people that pay them.
The Montana Democratic Party gave them $3,000 on January 4 of this year.
Besides that, Progressive Turnout Project spent nearly $500,000 with the post office last year, as well as $300,000 with Left Action.
To me this organization seems like just another money launderer.
On their site they mention that 2014 turnout was just 36.7% nationally, the lowest in 70 years.
They also mention that “more than 44 million eligible voters of color did not vote and 66 million eligible voters earning less than $50,000 did not vote.”
Anyways, let’s move on to the money spent opposing Quist.
Here’s what’s been spent:
- $15,000 by the RNC on May 10 for a media buy
- $10,000 by the RNC on May 10 for a media buy
- $23,000 by the NRCC on May 5 for media
- $12,000 by the CLF on May 3 for media production
- $30,000 by the RNC on May 3 for a media buy
- $30,000 by the RNC on May 2 for a media buy
- $276,000 by the NRCC on May 2 for a media buy
- $8,500 by the CLF on May 2 for doorhangers
- $42,000 by the CLF on May 1 for ground game
- $42,000 by the RNC on April 28 for a media buy
- $37,000 by the CLF on April 27 for mailings
- $23,000 by the NRCC on April 27 for media
- $18,500 by the CLF on April 27 for mailings
- $100,000 by the CLF on April 26 for media placement
- $37,000 by the CLF on April 25 for mailings
- $275,000 by the NRCC on April 25 for media
- $64,000 by the CLF on April 24 for ground game
All that comes to $1.04 million, and all of it over a period of 12 days.
Remember, we saw some spending before that, but things really ramped up around April 24.
That was just a few days after Trump, Jr. came.
Here’s what’s been spent to oppose Greg Gianforte:
- $17,000 by Planned Parenthood on May 5 for mailings
- $340,000 by the DCCC on May 1 for a media buy
- $11,000 by Planned Parenthood on May 1 for mailings
That comes to $368,000. Add in the money Planned Parenthood spent on mailings and what Progressive Turnout Project spent and it comes to $484,000.
In regards to Gianforte supporters, I’d like to mention a few:
- One that stood out to me was the Safari Club International PAC spending $25,500 on direct mail and digital advertising on April 27 to support Greg Gianforte.
- I also noticed that the Great America PAC spent $3,300 on April 24 for ringless voicemails to support Gianforte.
- Greg is also relying on the Conservative Liberty Coalition for his content writing and email list work this time around, to the tune of $7,000 spent on April 5. So much for Ron Catlett’s services, eh?
On May 5 Bobby Calvan of the AP reported that the Montana congressional race draws cash from outside state.
He mentions the $400,000 the DCCC is spending, on top of the $200,000 they spent last month, and he also tells us about the $500,000 the CLF threw in.
On May 4 CBS News told us in a report called Everything you need to know about Montana’s special election that Republicans had already spent $2.2 million on ads.
On May 3 Mike Dennison told us that National party groups dump more cash into Montana’s U.S. House race, citing the additional $400,000 from the DCCC.
On May 2 MTPR told us that Officials Predict Low Turnout for Montana’s Special House Election.
“I think we’ll be lucky to get 60 percent,” the election administrator of Ravalli County said.
Here in Missoula we had just 25% turnout for our mail-in-only school election on May 2.
And now I hear a lot of social media chatter about the race tightening.
Why else would Trump, Jr. be coming back, as well as Vice President Pence for the first time?
And I can’t blame people for looking at those appearances and thinking that it’s getting close.
But I follow the money.
We’ve got $484,000 on the Dem side vs. $1.04 million on the GOP side, according to federal FEC filings.
When you look at it like that, who do you think’s gonna win?
I think it’ll be Gianforte 52% with Quist at 40% and Wicks drawing 7%, and another 1% various write-ins.
But we’ll see how it goes.
Just 19 days now.