Most of the public will ignore these, while some will read the newspaper reports that will come out sometime this week, as well as the TV news coverage.
But most will ignore them. I don’t blame them - this is boring stuff.
I know from past years that the newspapers and the TV reporters will miss a lot.
So that’s why I dig into it, to give you the specifics that hide below the generalities...the names that rise above the rest.
This gives us a better idea of who’s-backing-who, as well as whom the moderates and hardliners are backing.
I'll put up the last 4 reports tomorrow.
Correction: It wasn't until Mike Dennison put out his report today that I realized I made a mistake with Morigeau, listing $12,000 for him in cash still. In reality, he has $1,200 for the primary and about $800 for the general.
Mikey Cooney doesn’t have his report up yet.
Reilly Neill doesn’t have a report yet.
Casey Schreiner raised $15,000 for the period, spent $19,000 and has around $20,000 left in the bank.
Schreiner is paying Monica Cloud $750 every two weeks in salary. Monica Robinson was also paid $1,000 in salary for work in September, as was Helen Smith...though she got $2,000.
Schreiner likes to use out-of-state companies for his internet stuff. He gave St. Louis’ Human Agency about $3,000 for email services and D.C.’s Moore Campaign’s $240 for social media graphic design. Like Bennett, Schreiner also likes to use California’s Phone Burner for his phone and email spam. Another $200 was spent with D.C.’s Grassroots Analytics for donor research.
Schreiner has around $4,500 in debt.
Whitney Williams raised nearly $440,000 this period, spent $186,000 and has $253,000 left in the bank.
She’s taken $710 from both the Adam PAC and Emily’s List.
There are dozens and dozens of pages of individual donors to Whitney. Going through these to determine how many donors are from Montana and how many are out-of-state is incredibly difficult and time-consuming.
I went through several pages, all the way up to the last name ‘C.’ Here’s what I found for where those 119 donations of people with ‘A’ and ‘B’ last names are coming from:
- Montana: 54
- California: 23
- Washington: 15
- Minnesota: 6
- New York: 3
- Texas: 3
- D.C.: 3
- Virginia: 2
One donor each came from Florida, Michigan, Colorado, Nevada, Louisiana, Connecticut, Oregon, and Pennsylvania.
And when we say Washington, we may as well say Seattle, as that’s where all the donations are coming from. For Montana, most are coming from Missoula.
Whitney has some interesting donors. For instance, Pearl Jam bassist Jeff Ament gave her $1,420. Director Ben Affleck gave her $1,420 as well. Tester’s former communications director, Marnee Banks, gave her $250.
It’s virtually impossible to keyword search her reports as many donors are listed twice, so just searching “MT” won’t cut it. You have to go through each entry, page-by-page. Huge pain in the ass.
We know that Whitney has five people on staff. Anna Newman is paid $1,963 every two weeks in salary. Brian Lenzmeier gets $3,499 in salary every two weeks. Dayna Swanson gets $3,780 in salary, despite living in Seattle. Emma Larsen gets $2,173 in salary. Michael Toppen is paid $1,550. As with all employees, you’re not just paying the salary but thousands of dollars in employer taxes and payroll expenses, which is what Whitney did this period.
Whitney chose to do most of her fundraising consulting and digital advertising with a firm in D.C. called Authentic Campaigns. She gave them over $53,000 this period. Lots of Montana jobs could have been created with that money, but Montana jobs aren’t important to Whitney - Whitney is.
Some woman in D.C. named Kimberly Ross was given $2,300 for fundraising consulting while MBPR Corp in Maryland was given around $15,000 for research consulting.
Not all spending is out-of-state. Missoula’s Campaign Compliance is making bank doing bookkeeping while Helena’s Element Design is given some of the scraps leftover from the big accounts going to the east coast firms.
Tim Fox has raised $104,000 this period and has spent $141,000. He now has $197,000 left in the bank.
Pfizer PAC gave him $640.
Fox gave $34,000 to a firm located 2,100 miles to the east of us, in Richmond, Virginia. This is Creative Direct LLC, and Fox decided that’s where he wants to get his fundraising letters printed and mailed from.
Fox could have done that with a Montana company, but creating jobs in Montana isn’t important for him.
Over $10,000 has gone to Polson’s Gulledge Consulting for campaign strategy. UM hired this former Lee publisher for $60,000 earlier this year, something that had the liberal blogs in a tizzy.
A company called Imge got about $15,000 for various social media and internet ads. The company is located in Virginia.
Nearly $11,000 was given to another Virginia firm for consulting work, this time the Jackson-Alvarez Group.
We all know how much those living in the D.C. Beltway know about our lives here in Montana, don’t we?
Greg Gianforte raised $346,000 for the period, spent $190,000 and has $780,000 left in the bank.
PACs giving to Gianforte include:
- Koch Industries PAC: $1,420
- Land of Opportunity PAC: $1,400
- Conservative Promises PAC: $1,300
- Andy Barr for Congress PAC: $1,000
- Midnight Sun PAC: $1,000
- Boots PAC: $710
- Merck PAC: $500
Hundreds of individual donors gave to Gianforte this cycle. If I was on one of the Dem campaigns, I’d figure out where that money is coming from. A quick scan tells me that most is from in-state.
Let’s get to some spending highlights.
Nearly $14,000 was sent to Silver Springs in Maryland, a place that’s 2,000 miles to the east of us. Gianforte is paying people that far away because they know what Montanans need in the way of campaign strategy and communications.
Montanans often need people from the east coast telling us what to do, and Gianforte knows this.
Around $2,500 was spent to cater three separate events at the posh Capitol Hill Club in D.C., perhaps to wine and dine some of the people from Silver Springs, to congratulate them on bamboozling those hicks out west.
$40 was spent on “volunteer appreciation” here in Montana, specifically to buy them flowers from a shop in Hamilton. Oh, to be so lucky!
Gianforte had four staffers this period, though I believe just three are still with him. Casey Collins is paid $999 every two weeks to work for Gianforte doing something. Dan Duffey gets $1,919 every two weeks, while Devin Morrison got $604 just once for wages. Victoria Thomas gets paid $1,185 each paycheck.
Gianforte keeps his printing here in Montana, using Billings’ the Political Company. He gave them around $45,000 this period.
Al Olszewski’s report is not ready yet.
Ron Vandeveder doesn’t have a report yet. His last report showed $400 raised.
Kim Dudik raised $30,000 for the period, spent $45,000 and has $43,000 left in the bank.
Dudik took $340 from the Health Care Service Corporation Employees’ PAC.
Her campaign has around $30,000 in debts right now, most being loans from the candidate to her campaign. This makes reading her report incredibly difficult. To be honest, it’s a mess.
Some things I can discern is that she’s paying Taryn Kovak $548 every two weeks to serve as her campaign office manager. Sophie Moon is paid $1,118 every two weeks to serve as the campaign’s finance director.
Missoula’s Mill Creek Accounting keeps track of the books for her, which cost around $400 this period (I never understood why a staffer couldn’t just do this).
$6,000 was spent with a firm located 1,200 miles from us in Wisconsin called Run the World Digital. She paid them that much money for fundraising emails so she could raise more money. Yes, Montana firms probably could have done that...but raising money for the campaign is more important than spending money in-state.
Besides that, it’s a lot of car trips and plane flights to attend various dinners and fundraisers and whatever else will get your name out there.
Raph Graybill raised $25,000 for the period, spent $10,000 and has $152,000 left in the bank.
So far Graybill has spent around $3,000 on Facebook ads and another $400 or so for Google ads.
Graybill is taking a different approach than other candidates, in that he’s using fundraising software instead of hiring some politico for fundraising consultations. This has saved him a lot of money. While many of our candidates spent thousands or even ten thousand or more on fundraising consults, Graybill has only spent $1,050 for software from a company called Numero.
The only other major expenditure was $2,000 spent with the Billings Times for printing.
Jon Bennion raised $33,000 for the period, spent $5,000 and has $142,000 left in the bank.
PACs giving to Bennion include the Good Government PAC ($360) and the Montana Coal Council PAC ($360).
The only major expenditures this period for Bennion include around $1,300 for bookkeeping from Helena’s Special Projects, as well as a few hundred dollars in fees to Anedot (the GOP’s version of Act Blue).
And yes, it is possible to have a Montana company design and host and maintain your website. Bennion chose to do that with Helena’s Western Consulting for $163.
In fact, the only out-of-state spending that Bennion engaged in this period was to spend $297 to attend a GOP Attorney Generals Association meeting in New York.
I wish more Montana politicians would keep their money in Montana, but they don’t. Bennion is the rare exception.
Austin Knudsen raised $25,000 for the period, spent $8,000 and has $95,000 left in the bank.
Knudsen took $380 from the Montana Beer and Wine Distributors PAC.
Greg Gianforte and Rick Hill both donated to his campaign.
There isn’t much to report on spending. All is in-state except for $250 spent with a Salt Lake firm for some design work. The largest expenditure was $5,000 to Billings’ the Political Company for fundraising letters, event invites and Christmas cards.
Bryce Bennett raised just $210 for the period and spent $14,000. He now has $74,000 in the bank.
Bennett lists thousands of miles of travel in his report, which few other candidates do. It’s a good strategy.
It was interesting to see Kathleen Williams’ campaign manager - Jeff Allen - donate $75 to Bennett’s campaign. Trent Bolger - campaign manager for Wilmot Collins - also donated, but just $50. Missoula Mayor John Engen also donated $50. Mike Cooney staffer - Emily Harris - donated $45, with two jobs listed for those donations. Interesting.
Of course, Whitney Williams’ campaign has been the most friendly to Bennett. Brian Lenzmeier, a staffer for Whitney, donated $100. Michael Toppen, also with the Whitney campaign, donated $20. Whitney herself gave $360.
All of those donors are big red flags for conservatives, and those that want to keep Montana free of a sales tax.
Most of Bennett’s money is going to a Helena outfit called What’s Next Strategies. He’s given them around $8,000 this period for several hundred hours of campaign consulting.
Another outfit getting a lot of Bennett’s money is called Phone Burner, located in sunny Laguna Beach in the liberal bastion of California. For just $149 a month, Phone Burner will spam countless unsuspecting individuals with robocalls, unwanted emails, and voicemail messages.
Just what every voter wanted.
When it comes to the GOP, we have four different candidates. This early in their cycle, we’re not going to dive too deeply into the reports.
Bowen Greenwood has raised about $11,500 and has spent about $2,000. Greenwood is confident he’ll win the primary, as he’s already raising for the general. He has over $9,000 left in the bank.
Shelby DeMars is giving him money. Greenwood will likely have the support of the Montana Group. The Missoula Deschamps are giving to him, too. The Galts are also backing Greenwood.
Christi Jacobsen raised $113,000 for the period, spent $20,000 and has $92,000 left in the bank.
$60,000 of that money is a loan she made to herself. I’m also surprised by the number of donors coming from Colorado. Perhaps she has some connection to the state.
Jacobsen likes to send her money to the Strip. Yes, it’s companies in Las Vegas that are getting nearly $14,000 for campaign consulting and website work, not companies in Montana. That’s how much Jacobsen gave to McShane. This outfit worked on Marsy’s Law a few years back, trying to get it passed in quite a few western states. That law was a disaster and was overturned. The fact that Jacobsen is choosing this outfit should raise red flags.
Forrest Mandeville has raised $19,000 and has spent $15,000. He has around $10,000 left in the bank.
$15,000 of his money came from a loan to himself.
None of Mandeville’s donors stand out to me.
Mandeville has decided to send most of his money out-of-state...1,500 miles to the east of us, to be specific. Yes, the good people of Indianapolis will benefit from the $11,500 that Mandeville has sent their Prosper Group for online ads.
Forrest could have spent that money here in Montana, but creating jobs in Montana isn’t important for him - creating jobs in Indiana is.
He’ll carry that vision into the Capitol building if elected this fall.
Scott Sales is leading the pack, with about $52,000 raised this period. He’s spent $7,000, leaving him with over $100,000 in the bank.
Ed Buttrey is backing this horse, as is Tim Fox. Llew Jones, Jason Priest, and the Town Pump family are other big names.
Sales is relying on Sage Strategies out of Helena to do his social media and online legwork. He’s given them $1,300, his largest expenditure this period.
Melissa Romano has had a lot of bad press lately.
Her latest report shows that she raised a little over $12,000 during this latest period, and she spent $1,800. She has $34,000 in the bank.
The vast majority of those giving to Romano are teachers or others working in the Montana school districts.
Most of her spending is with Act Blue for donation processing fees. Her largest single expenditure was $587 for 1,000 fundraising invites and envelopes.
Like most candidates, Romano is focusing on raising money via mailers. Her spending reflects that.
All but $765 of her money is going toward the primary. This is a reporting convenience more than any indication that she expects a primary opponent.
Elsie Arntzen raised about $10,500 for the period and spent $4,500. She has around $8,500 left in the bank.
Charter PAC gave $340 to Arntzen.
Arntzen’s husband heads up the gaming association here in Montana, so lots of gambling outfits are donating to his wife in hopes of currying favor.
Greg and Susan Gianforte have donated to Arntzen, something that will surely elicit a scathing blog post from the liberals, which in turn will drive up more donations for Arntzen. It’s nice when the opposition helps raise funds for you.
Arntzen has several large expenditures in her latest report, but most of her money is going 540 miles to the south of us. Yes, the 1.2 million people living in the greater Salt Lake City region are benefiting more from Arntzen’s campaign than Montanans are.
That’s how I view it when you spend $983 with a Utah firm to keep your campaign website up and running...when a Montana firm could have done the same job...while creating jobs here in the Treasure State.
But creating Montana jobs isn’t important to Arntzen. Creating jobs in Salt Lake is.
That said, the other major expenditures are happening in Helena for bookkeeping and internet fundraising consults.
Shane Morigeau has raised $12,000 this period and has spent $16,000. He now has $2,000 left in the bank.
Pfizer PAC gave $340 to Morigeau.
Most of Morigeau’s money is being spent with Missoula printers, and he’s also paying John Fauerbach about $1,200 a month to be his campaign manager. That one staffer is where most of Morigeau’s money is going.
Troy Downing has raised $21,000 this period, has spent $18,000 and has $60,000 left in the bank.
Russ Fagg is a donor, as is Greg Hertz and Krisen Juras.
Most of Downing’s money is being spent in Montana, but his largest expenditure this period is going to a firm 1,600 miles to the southeast of us - Strategic Impact in Kentucky.
If you want an idea of how Downing will oversee your money as auditor, well...he thought it was a good idea to give that out-of-state firm $3,300 to design a logo for him.
Nelly Nicol raised $90,000 for the period, spent $15,000 and has $56,000 left in the bank.
Much of that money comes from loans to herself, around $60,000 of it.
There’s not a lot to report for spending. Most is in-state. The largest expenditures were to Yellowstone Solutions for campaign strategy consultations, around $12,000.
As you can see, Gianforte continues to be the elephant in the room. No one can come close to the money he can raise, either through individual donations, PAC contributions, or personal loans.
But we all knew that long before this race even started.
Whitney has some impressive fundraising totals, though I wonder if she can keep up that pace. It’ll be interesting to see what Cooney throws up when his report comes out. He’s the only serious primary competitor she has.
Fox is not going to win the money game. He’s not going to win by going negative, either. I honestly don’t know what he can do, other than hope Gianforte screws up. He has just $64,000 of primary money left. Gianforte has $367,000 for the primary. It's not even a contest. Now it just comes down to ideology.
The battle between Scott Sales and Christi Jacobsen is going to get ugly before June. One of them is going to get the nod, if you go by the money. Sales has $83,000 to spend in the primary still, while Jacobsen has $76,000. It's gonna be close. Bennett has some serious problems. The GOP candidates have $211,000 in the bank between themselves, compared to the $74,000 he has. When the primary is over, Bennett will likely be outraised and outspent.
Graybill is leading the pack when it comes to money in the AG race. But he's just $10,000 ahead of the nearest Republican, Jon Bennion. I don't feel that Kim Dudik is a challenge for Graybill at all. He's outraising her 3-to-1 and doesn't have the debt problem that she does. Still, the GOP has $247,000 in the bank compared to the $195,000 the Dems have. I don't think the Dems will ever outraise the GOP in this race this year. For the primary, Graybill has $109,000 to throw around between now and June, but Dudik only has $33,000. For the GOP, Bennion has $106,000 to spend before June while Knudsen has just $74,000.
Romano is winning the money game, but losing the public relations campaign. I wonder if that’ll turn around over the next six months for her. Arntzen needs to step back and figure out why she has such problems with fundraising.
When you look at the money, it’s pretty clear Morigeau can’t beat the two GOP candidates. He only has $1,200 for the primary and $800 for the general. Those on the sidelines that have been waiting for these reports to come out will likely get into the race now. I suspect John Morrison will be one of them.