Montana

Bullock steered $262K in state money to brother, himself; ATP turns evidence over to FBI investigators

Posted on October 28, 2012 by Donald Ferguson

> State, public documents show Bullock’s office gave $262K contract to company owned by his brother — and which pays him rent
> ‘Give it back, Steve’ says Ferguson of Bullock’s corrupt funds, ‘The office of governor could become Steve Bullock’s personal piggy bank’
> Documents now in the hands of FBI’s Public Corruption Unit
> Story and documentation will appear in the Montana Statesman, mailed to 120,000 homes

BOZEMAN — American Tradition Partnership turned over to the FBI’s Public Corruption Unit Sunday several state and public documents detailing how in 2010 Attorney General Steve Bullock’s Justice Department steered a $262,017.38 state contract to an “environmental services” business owned by Bullock’s brother, and which pays rent to a building owned by Steve Bullock himself.

“It appears Attorney General Bullock is handing state contracts to his brother’s company which he personally profits from,” said ATP Executive Director Donald Ferguson. “At best using your state position to funnel cash to your brother and yourself is a serious breach of ethics and the public trust.  At worst Attorney General Bullock may very well have committed a crime.  These are the kinds of dealings the FBI’s Public Corruption Unit investigates, and prosecutes.”

Additionally, Montana Code 2-2-105(4) states “a public officer or public employee may not acquire an interest in any business or undertaking that the officer or employee has reason to believe may be directly and substantially affected to its economic benefit by official action to be taken by the officer’s or employee’s agency. ”

“We encourage a robust and thorough investigation of Mr. Bullock, and we call on Mr. Bullock to cooperate with the FBI,” said Ferguson.  “Mr. Bullock could very well spend 2013 and beyond under FBI investigation, or worse.”

ATP will report the story, and release the documents, in this week’s edition of the Montana Statesman newspaper, which is mailed to 120,000 homes in Montana.  The documents will be available online Monday at montanastatesman.com/bullockdisclosure.

“Give it back, Steve,” said Ferguson of any rent paid to him by Pioneer Tech.  “Unless he and his brother divest themselves of the Hermann Building and Pioneer Tech, as governor Steve Bullock would be free to steer contracts from anywhere in the state government to his brother and himself,” said Ferguson.

“The office of governor could become Steve Bullock’s personal piggy bank.”

“For years ATP’s candidate surveys have asked candidates if he or she or a close relative stands to personally profit off any government ‘green’ program,” said Ferguson.  “No wonder Bullock refused to answer that question.  He would have to reveal his corrupt contract scheme.”

“These kinds of corrupt deals have become Steve Bullock’s calling card,” said Ferguson of Bullock, who was admonished in 2009 by the federal Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit for using his office to engage in the “petty bureaucratic harassment” of a Helena church and whose campaign was last week found guilty by the Commission on Political Practices of passing 11 illegal checks totaling over $15,000.

State documents show in April of 2010 the Justice Department, run by Bullock, awarded a Natural Resource Damage Program contract to an environmental services company, “Pioneer Technical Services” of Butte.  The total value of the contract, according to the documents, was $262,017.38 for eight months of work.

Also known as Pioneer Tech, it is owned by Bill Bullock, Steve Bullock’s brother.  Steve Bullock can be seen on video during a Sept. 2010 state conference praising his brother for creating Pioneer Tech.

“In 1992, in the basement of a house here in Butte, my older brother started a business, Pioneer Tech,” said Bullock.    The tape of Bullock admitting Pioneer’s ownership may be viewed online at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vbi16AtVWC4#t=08m15s.

Not only did Bullock direct state funds to his brother, Pioneer appears to rent office space from Steve Bullock himself.

On its website, www.pioneer-technical.com/offices/offices.htm, Pioneer Tech lists its Helena office as “(Hermann Building) 201 E. Broadway.”

Both Bullock’s 2008 and 2012 state financial disclosure forms list him as an owner of the “Hermann Building” at “201 E. Broadway.”

That means Attorney General Bullock is handing state contracts to a company that pays him rent, personally profiting from a state contractor – who is also his brother.

The scandal may be much larger.  That state contract is just one of several paid out to Pioneer Tech, including what appear to be several more from Bullock’s Justice Department.

The information was sent to the FBI via email Sunday, and will be Express Mailed Monday morning.

Bullock forced to admit ANOTHER anti-speech law unconstitutional

Posted on October 6, 2012 by Donald Ferguson

Once again Montana citizens have been forced to go to federal court to stop attempts by politicians to outlaw dissent.

And once again the Helena establishment’s efforts to outlaw dissent has been struck down as unconstitutional.

“U.S. District Judge Richard Cebull approved a settlement Tuesday in the case of a Billings minister who sued the state after being arrested on trespassing charges while gathering signatures for a ballot measure seeking to amend the state’s constitution to define unborn children as persons,” the Associated Press reports.

“We are very pleased that yet another absurd, anti-free speech Montana election law has been struck down,” said Bozeman attorney Matthew Monforton, who represented Zastrow. “This means that Cal and other pastors have the same right to engage in the political process that everyone else has.”

Attorney General Steve Bullock and Political Practices Commissioner James Murry were named as defendants, adding to the long list of suits filed against them citizens prosecuted for expressing conservative views.

After repeated courtroom losses to American Tradition Partnership and an admonishment from a federal court he was engaging in the “petty bureaucratic harassment” of innocent citizens for having political views different from his liberal one, Bullock did not even try to defend the latest attempt to prosecute citizens for speech.

The AP reports:

County officials did not allege that Zastrow violated the 1913 law on coercion or undue influence that limits the speech of ministers, clergy and churches regarding candidates and ballot issues. But Zastrow’s lawsuit sought to prevent the state from threatening to enforce it.

Assistant Attorney General Michael Black, who handled the case for the state, said he did not believe the statute had ever been enforced.

“Based on our review we chose to allow the court to enter the judgment that it was unconstitutional,” Black said.

Cebull granted a permanent injunction that prevents the state and county from enforcing the statute and prohibits its text from being included on “warning posters” which are displayed at polling places throughout the state, the newspaper reported.

Vladimir Putin, Russian cash join Schweitzer in attacking ATP’s free speech win

Posted on June 27, 2012 by Donald Ferguson

Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer and Attorney General Steve Bullock have found a powerful ally in their opposition to the Constitution’s “supremacy clause” and the First Amendment’s guarantees of the rights of free speech and free association.

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s Kremlin-funded, Putin-controlled “Russia Today” TV network has come out in opposition to American Tradition Partnership and the U.S. Supreme Court’s Monday ruling in ATP v. Bullock.

“RT” aired a segment Tuesday with defeated former Congressman Alan Grayson (D-Fla.) harshly criticizing the concept Americans can question their government without hiring and attorney and first seeking permission through the formation of a PAC or other body.

The network, dedicated to spreading pro-Russian propaganda in the United States, has firmly sided with Schweitzer and Bullock.  While foreign corporations are prohibited from spending money in American elections and all corporate spending must be disclosed, Schweitzer and Bullock refuse to criticize Putin for spending foreign money on their behalf.

See the video here.

So who do you stand with?  The First Amendment, or Brian Schweitzer and Vladimir Putin?

Newspapers hail ATP’s win for the Constitution, free speech

Posted on by Donald Ferguson

From today’s Pittsburgh Tribune-Review:

The importance of the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in American Tradition Partnership Inc. v. Bullock cannot be understated.

On Monday, the high court voted 5-4 to strike down Montana’s 100-year-old ban on political expenditures by corporations. Citing its landmark 2010 Citizens United ruling, the court held that “political speech does not lose First Amendment protection simply because its source is a corporation.”

As Stephen M. Hoersting, president of the Institute for Individualism, notes (in National Review Online), not only has the court upheld the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution — “This Constitution … shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound hereby” — but “communications made independent of candidates and political party committees pose no threat of corruption as a matter of law, not case-by-case adjudication.”

The “progressive” contention of automatic “apparent corruption,” rejected in Citizens and affirmed in American Tradition, is not apparent at all.

Supposedly objective liberal reportage on the ruling mixed into the narrative such biased phrases as “torrent of spending,” “secret world” and “unforeseen consequences.” How sad and tragic that these “progressives” — regressives, really — have no concept of the victory for free speech that the Supreme Court’s ruling truly is.

Go here to read the full editorial.

ATP wins Supreme Court case, calls on Schweitzer, Bullock to resign

Posted on June 25, 2012 by Donald Ferguson

ONCE AGAIN AMERICAN TRADITION PARTNERSHIP STANDS ON THE SIDE OF THE LAW, CONSTITUTION

Once again American Tradition Partnership has prevailed in court, for the simple reason the law and the Constitution are always on our side.  ATP has now emerged victorious in every case brought to a court of law.

We are pleased the Justices of the United States Supreme Court have upheld the Constitution’s guarantee of free speech without limits or retribution by government officials. As clearly stated by the First Amendment, politicians cannot outlaw political speech to create a favorable political environment or because they simply don’t like the type of speaker.

This reversal on summary judgment is a resounding rejection of Governor Schweitzer’s and Attorney General Bullock’s indefensible attacks on Montanans’ God-given right of free political speech. ATP has always adhered to every letter of applicable law and we will continue to expose corruption and misbehavior by government officials.

As outlined in our case the unlawful misbehavior by Governor Schweitzer, Attorney General Bullock, Senator Esp and the revolving door of poorly-qualified, politicized and downright corrupt Political Practices Commissioners is precisely why Montanans should be allowed to speak freely about politicians without limit or fear of persecution.

Schweitzer and Bullock sought to preserve limits on political speech that may shed sunlight on their corrupt practices, and were rebuked by the Supreme Court. Only the corrupt should fear free political discourse.

Over the coming months Montanans will find out about the corrupt practices and radical positions Schweitzer and Bullock were trying to hide through threats and intimidation.

This is not the first time Governor Schweitzer’s administration has been rebuked by a federal court for unlawfully attacking private citizens he disagrees with.

In 2009, the Ninth Circuit Court ruled Montana “Political Practices Commissioner” Dennis Unsworth, a political appointee of Gov. Brian Schweitzer, violated the constitutional rights of the Canyon Ferry Baptist Church when he falsely ruled the church must file as a political committee.  The church sued, and the Montana Legislature eventually approved a $225,000.00 payout to Schweitzer’s victims.

ATP previously sued the Schweitzer administration after Unsworth issued a false and defamatory “finding” against the group just three days after ATP won a different free speech case against the Governor.  In retaliation for his headline-making defeat the Schweitzer administration issued a 41-page document making numerous false and outlandish damaging claims about ATP.

At the end of the “legal finding” the Schweitzer administration openly admitted they had no evidence whatsoever to back up any of the claims.

Both Governor Schweitzer and Attorney General Bullock assumed office by taking a sworn oath to uphold the rights of Montanans.

Given Governor Schweitzer and Attorney General Bullock’s latest court loss in a case in which they failed to honor their oath, American Tradition Partnership’s grassroots members across Montana ask both men to tender their resignations immediately.

ATP wins yet another case against Montana politicians

Posted on May 16, 2012 by Donald Ferguson

American Tradition Partnership (ATP), a nonprofit 501(c)4 grassroots lobbying organization, won a critical victory for First Amendment freedoms today in Montana. U.S. District Court Judge Charles Lovell today ruled in favor of ATP in a motion for summary judgment on several claims, finding that the state could not prohibit corporate contributions to groups engaging in independent political speech, require ATP to include certain disclaimers on their communications, or prohibit political speech about candidate voting records the state judged ‘false.’

“This is a victory for the free speech rights of all Americans, and a loss for Montana politicians trying to squelch the voices of grassroots citizens challenging their power,” said Donald Ferguson, Executive Director of ATP. “The court today recognized that burdening ATP and other citizen groups with unnecessary, intrusive, and unwarranted regulations on speech is an affront to the First Amendment.”

ATP filed the lawsuit to prevent the State of Montana from enforcing unconstitutional restrictions on its speech. The judge ruled that ATP’s challenge to Montana’s excessively low contribution limits ($160 to a candidate for state legislature, $630 to a candidate for Governor) will proceed to trial, and ruled in the State’s favor that the ban on direct contributions from corporations to candidates was constitutional.

The case is Lair et al v. Murray et al, case number 6:12-cv-00012-CCL.

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