ATP Responds to Frontline’s False Claims

American Tradition Partnership Responds to Frontline Story’s False Claims of Campaign Finance Violations

Coordinated smear campaign by political opponents revealed

October 30, 2012 –American Tradition Partnership (ATP) responded late Tuesday evening to the false claims of improper political activity alleged in this evening’s broadcast of “Big Sky, Big Money” on PBS’s Frontline.

“This is simply the latest unsubstantiated, well-coordinated attack on American Tradition Partnership, brought on by opponents of the work we do to educate grassroots citizens about important issues related to the environment, energy, and economic growth,” said Donald Ferguson, Executive Director of ATP. “Aside from wild conspiracy theories and willful misreadings of applicable campaign finance and nonprofit laws, tonight’s Frontline story simply revealed what most Montanans and Americans already knew: that radical anti-growth environmentalists aren’t the only ones who are free to organize, raise money, and communicate with the public on important policy topics.”

The Frontline story, as well as coordinated articles appearing online at the web sites of leftist groups ProPublica and the Center for Public Integrity, relies heavily on stolen documents of dubious validity. The documents purported to come from ATP apparently made their way from a stolen car to a ‘meth house’ in Denver, into the hands of Colorado Democratic Party operatives, and from there to the Montana Commission on Political Practices (COPP). ATP has not been allowed to see the documents to assess their authenticity, but has been able to confirm that some of the documents are not ATP-related but instead are connected with other clients of an ATP consultant or an independent  mailshop owned by the same consultant’s wife.

“It would be very interesting to know just how several media outlets were able to view stolen documents in the custody of the Montana Commission on Political Practices but no attempt was made to return them to their owners,” said Ferguson. “This looks to be just another example of corruption at the Commission and by the political establishment, who are enraged that the public are being told the truth.”

The head of Montana’s COPP is a direct appointee of the governor, unique among all states. The past three Commissioners have all been political allies of the current governor, including his campaign attorney and treasurer. One of the three was forced to resign this summer after engaging in illegal activities as Commissioner. Current Attorney General and Democratic gubernatorial nominee Steve Bullock has been repeatedly embarrassed in recent months by numerous losses to ATP and other citizens and groups as Montana’s unconstitutional campaign finance laws have been successfully challenged.

“Our success in challenging radical environmentalists and the grossly unconstitutional campaign finance system they and their allies rely on to stifle debate has won us some very powerful enemies,” Ferguson said. “While we’d prefer to see recognition for our hard work come in some form other than baseless smears and hysterical innuendo on national television, we’re proud of our efforts to educate grassroots citizens.”

Earlier today a judge blocked further release of the stolen documents. ATP has also notified state and federal law enforcement authorities about the illegal transfer and possession of stolen goods that was apparently undertaken by Democratic Party officials as well as the staff of Frontline, ProPublica, and the Center for Public Integrity.