We’ll start with the Republicans first and then get to the Democrats.
The Montana Republican Party’s January finance report with the FEC is just 21 pages and you can read it here.
For January the Republicans raised over $20,000 and spent over $18,000.
As February began the GOP had almost $150,000 cash on hand, as they started January with $147,000 leftover from 2018.
None of those giving money to the party really stood out to me, aside from the fact that there were more donors from Missoula than I would have expected.
I think the Missoula City Council is pushing many independent voters more to the right.
I did notice that the Gianforte-Rosendale Fund based out of McLean, Virginia, gave the party $351.
When it comes to spending, there’s not much to report on.
I was troubled that the Montana GOP decided to spent $7,000 with a Kansas publishing and mailing firm, even though we have many in Montana that could do the same thing.
It’s hard to call the GOP out on this, however, as the Montana Democrats also spend a lot of money with out-of-state firms when Montana firms would work just fine.
Creating jobs in Montana really is just a campaign talking point; neither party puts their money where their mouth is when it comes to that.
Another $2,600 was spent with a Florida direct marketing firm. That money would have benefited a Montana business nicely.
When it comes to employees, the Montana Republican Party has three and pays them $3,514 a month. These include:
- $2,330 for Emma Sticht
- $672 for John Harter
- $512 for Quinn O’Connor
In addition to that, the GOP paid $1,175 in payroll taxes to keep those people on staff.
The Montana GOP didn’t spend anything on health insurance for their employees, nor did they allow any money to be spent eating out.
I don’t know much about Emma Sticht, though she started as the GOP’s office manager in August.
I do believe her parents were part of a lawsuit against the Helena School District in 2011 over human sexuality courses being taught.
The Montana Democrat’s latest finance report is 117 pages and you can read it here.
The Montana Democrats raised just $31,000 in January while they spent $116,000.
As February began the Dems had $110,000 cash on hand, as they started January with $196,000 leftover from 2018.
I wasn’t going to dig into the people that donated to the Montana Democrats that much until I noticed some of the names.
It’s funny - people that are on the MT Dems’ payroll are actually donating to the party as well.
Here are some names and groups that stood out to me:
- $18,000 from the DNC State Party Victory Fund
- $10,000 from Oregon’s Sussman, Selwyn, Donald Trust Asset Management
- $3,000 from the DNC
- $2,500 from Missoula’s Caras Property Management
- $500 from Al Smith (MT Trial Lawyers)
- $250 from Nick Lockridge (Married to MDLCC’s Amanda Frickle)
- $250 from Mary Sexton (MT Dem Chair)
Here’s some MT Dem spending:
- $4,500 to D.C.’s New Blue Interactive for donor development
- $3,000 to D.C.’s Chraca Friedman Group for Fundraising
- $3,000 to the DNC for a voter access file
- $1,060 on Facebook ads
There are over $7,000 in various transfer payments for 2018 federal overages, but I don’t know what this is.
And now for the fun stuff.
For January, the Montana Democrats spent over $6,700 eating out in restaurants. This includes:
- $2,300 on Domino’s Pizza
- $1,060 at Jimmy John’s
- $840 at the Pita Pit
It cost over $4,200 just to eat at those three places (the Dems spent $6,700 eating out in January).
There’s a lot more eating out if you add in all the federal money that was spent in restaurants (I just added up the state money).
In addition to that, the Montana Democrats spent $3,560 on health insurance for their 5 state-funded employees and 7 federally-funded employees.
While all these employees work in the same Sixth Street office in Helena, they just do funny accounting stuff so that certain amounts can be listed in different spots in their monthly reports.
Here are those 12 employees and their monthly salaries:
- $4,548 for Nancy Keenan
- $4,496 for Trent Bolger
- $3,914 for Nick Lockridge
- $3,660 for Roy Lowenstein
- $3,392 for Derek Ketner
- $3,100 for Cassidy Cook
- $3,054 for Megan Simpson
- $3,000 for Monica Lindeen
- $2,846 for Justin Ailport
- $2,372 for Thai Nguyen
- $2,271 for Austin Lyle
It costs over $37,500 to keep those people on staff.
In addition to that, the Montana Democrats have to pay an extra $46,000 in payroll taxes and accounting work to Virginia’s Paychex for those 12 people.
So in effect, the Montana Democrats had to spend nearly $84,000 just to keep those 12 people working ($95,000 if you count their healthcare and food costs).
They have few people on staff, don’t spend a lot of extra money on them, and in Montana this is working for them.
Currently the GOP controls every seat on the PSC, they have both chambers of the legislature, and occupy every statewide office but one. Federally they hold two of our three seats in Congress.
I would encourage the GOP to continue what they’re doing, as it’s working.
The only suggestion I’d have for them is to find ways to attract more young voters. Perhaps focusing on the massive student loan crisis and how this makes it hard to have money everywhere else in your life is a place to start.
Now to the Democrats.
Here’s an organization that’s lost its way in Montana.
I know the Montana Democrats working in the Sixth Street HQ think I’m a joke and that these monthly reports of mine are a joke.
They know that there’s no real accountability for them, as donations to their organization keep rolling in.
I just feel incredibly bad for the people that give the Montana Democratic Party money, thinking that it’ll actually help win a chamber of the legislature or get people elected to statewide or county offices.
That’s just not the case.
While many might think the Montana Democratic Party works in their interests, when you follow the money you find that the morally bankrupt people working for the Montana Democratic Party primarily focus on benefiting themselves.
We see this in their incredibly high monthly salaries and the amount of money they spend feeding themselves.
Few Montana workers make as much or can afford to eat out so much each week.
I’m sad that the Montana Democratic Party has grown so out of touch with the people it purports to represent.
I am happy, however, for I know that this blind self-interest can’t go on forever.
At some point something will give and true leaders will come to the fore of the Montana Democratic Party.
The riff-raff currently on staff will be shown the door and the financial healing can begin. At that point trust can be won back as well, and perhaps voters will come around too.
All of this will take time, and leadership.
I think it’ll be a long wait for both.