Montana is making news faster than I can have opinions about it. No sooner do I write a fun Indy column praising Judge Charles Lovell for striking down our campaign finance laws than he strikes them up again. It was satirical while it lasted. Probably, mooting one column is worth it to restore some limit on what political parties can give to candidates’ campaigns, as Lovell did today. With a heavy heart, I suspend my campaign for comptroller or whatever. I will still accept unlimited donations from political parties, but they’ll have to be in cash.
Last night, Frontline aired its half of the Pro Publica story about documents found in a meth house suggesting that American Traditions Partnership coordinated with the Republican Party. ATP has been particularly active in Montana, suing to force the state to comply with Citizens United v. FEC in 2010 and, now, pursing a suit to overturn campaign contribution limits. ATP does not have to disclose its donors to the FEC, because ATP is not a political organization. As they helpfully explain in their press release, they’re a grassroots education nonprofit. One of their educational publications, for example, is the Montana Statesman, a website that just happens to run only articles about how awful various Democratic candidates are. The Statesman bills itself as “Montana’s oldest and most trusted news source.”