american tradition partnership montana
Judge orders COPP to turn over stolen ATP materials, slams State for improper conduct
>> Court order rebukes COPP for improperly holding stolen evidence from a criminal investigation, using it to smear candidates before an election
>> Ferguson warns Bullock: ‘This is how Nixon got impeached.’
LIVINGSTON, MONT. — A Montana judge ordered the state’s Commission on Political Practices James Murry Monday to turn over materials that were stolen from a political consultant’s car and trafficked across state lines to Democrat state appointees for use in an election-eve attack on Republican candidates.
Judge Nels Swandal of Montana’s Sixth Judicial District ruled that Commissioner Murry has demonstrated a willingness to disclose private documents to the public, and an inability or unwillingness to keep the such documents secure.
Murry has until Friday to turn over to Swandal all materials or face contempt charges. The suit was filed by Christian LeFer, consultant to American Tradition Partnership, and Allison LeFer, owner of an unrelated printing and candidate mail business.
ATP is not a party to the suit and has no interest in Allison LeFer’s business or clients, but ATP’s stolen private financial records are among the documents that must be turned over.
In March 2010 ATP asked LeFer to transport the group’s documents to Colorado to be scanned and archived. They were stolen from LeFer’s car, along with other unrelated documents belonging to her own business.
The materials were later found by a convicted meth dealer, who amazingly had the presence of mind to contact the husband of a Democrat Colorado State Senator. Amazingly, though the car which was recovered stripped of its valuables and contents, the documents were the only materials that have turned up.
Rather than contact law enforcement, Schwartz contacted political allies in Montana and worked with the meth dealer to traffic the stolen materials across state lines to the COPP in March 2011.
Upon learning nearly two years later Montana officials conspired with a meth dealer to traffic ATP’s stolen private financial information across state lines, ATP immediately contacted the FBI.
Swandal ruled the documents “appear clearly to consist of stolen property, and are evidence regarding the criminal investigation of the car theft in Colorado.”
“This is going to end very badly for Steve Bullock, Jim Murry and Colorado State Senator Gail Schwartz,” said Ferguson. “ATP has contacted the FBI. This is now Nixon got impeached along with 48 government cronies convicted of crimes. People don’t like it when corrupt politicians interfere with criminal investigations and conspire with criminals to evade law enforcement.”
“We didn’t know they had our stolen bank records for nearly two years. I’m no legal expert but intentionally hiding stolen property that is evidence in a criminal investigation reeks of a felony,” said Ferguson.
Swandal ruled Montana officials used the stolen materials to attack certain candidates in an apparent effort to influence an election. “(I)t is undisputed that Commissioner Murry gave national news media access to the Colorado Documents which they used in October, 2012, in an apparent effort to embarrass certain candidates on the eve of the 2012 election,” wrote Swandal.
The Political Practices Commissioner’s legally-mandated job is to enforce campaign finance laws in an impartial manner, not to attack those who disagree with the governor who installed him. As a taxpayer-funded non-profit corporation PBS (the media outlet that aired the report) is prohibited from assisting the campaigns of political candidates.
“The fact COPP looked at all the materials, found absolutely NO wrongdoing to act on and instead of returning them, secretly held them for nearly two years so they could coordinate an election-eve attack makes the State look unbelievably corrupt,” said Ferguson.
“Commissioner Murry has refused to return the Colorado Documents to their owners and has not stated a legal basis for his refusal,” Swandal writes.
“Furthermore, it appears from the evidence that Commissioner Murry cannot continue to guarantee the security of the Colorado Documents. For example, his office was recently burglarized. According to Commissioner Murry, ‘The office is located in an old house on the Capitol campus, and Murray says ‘it’s a well-known fact that security is minimal.’”
Swandal declared Murray has shown “his demonstrated inability or unwillingness to keep the Colorado Documents secure.”
“I’m sure it’s no coincidence that after the documents were ordered sealed by a judge someone just happened to try and break in the COPP offices to steal them. It’s typical of the corruption that reeks in Helena,” said Ferguson.
COPP also used stolen ATP financial information to publicize the names and contact information of ATP’s donors. Under section 501(c)4 of IRC federal law, such information is protected for privacy reasons.
“We are contacting the IRS and Treasury Department to see what federal laws were broken by Steve Bullock and Jim Murry,” said Ferguson.
“ATP always obeys every letter of every applicable law. Everything we do is not just legal but in pursuit of accountable government. Corrupt politicians hate us, and we have seen them lower themselves to lies, smears and now working with meth dealers to traffic in stolen materials” said ATP Executive Director Donald Ferguson.
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.
BOZEMAN — American Tradition Partnership Executive Director Donald Ferguson released the following statement Monday morning regarding bizarre and false claims made by PBS:
With days to go until Montanans vote, the activist group ProPublica has decided to release a misleading, sensationalist story built around personal property stolen from a car and delivered by a meth user to ATP’s political opponents. The story falsely links ATP to individual activities the organization has no connection to.
ATP always has, and always will, obey every applicable law. As has been the case with every legal issue we have brought forward, this will be decided in ATP’s favor for one simple reason – the law is always on our side. In fact, ATP just won another court case this morning against the Commission on Political Practices for that exact reason.
ATP does not, and never will, tell voters which candidate to vote for. ATP speaks on the issues, informing voters where candidates stand and of their public records.
Additionally, no candidate has any say or control over what ATP publishes. I have never met or spoken to virtually all the candidates on the ballot. Other than sending them a candidate questionnaire I have never communicated most of them. The story itself admits there is no proof of coordination, and there is no coordination.
Additionally, I seriously doubt stolen property acquired by a meth user and spread around by political activists are true, accurate, unaltered and complete documents. Earlier this year another liberal group stole documents from another free market environmental organization, the Heartland Institute, and proceeded to engage in forgery and fraud for the purposes of smearing conservatives for political gain (http://spectator.org/blog/2012/02/17/theft-and-apparent-forgery-of).
In the past Frontline has broken into computer databases for a story on tuna fishing and relied on the word of a convicted felon fired from an Atlanta dentistry clinic to smear private dentistry, without informing viewers. ATP, on the other hand, has always obeyed every letter of every applicable law and eventually won every court case it has ever brought.
I would suggest the media tread carefully before publishing politically-timed stories built on stolen and possibly forged documents that are unrelated to ATP and distributed by a meth user, politicians and a program with a history of unethical and illegal practices.
* ABC News: Politico: CPI’s Reporting Involved Possible Misdemeanor, Paid Source (Source of false ATP attacks committed crime, violated journalistic ethics)
* Washington Post: Center for Public Integrity changes its story (Source of false ATP attacks takes payoffs in exchange for reporting)
* POLITICO: Tuna and turmoil at CPI (Source of false ATP attacks committed crime)
* PBS Defends Use of Convicted Felon as Expert on Documentary (Source of false ATP attacks has history of relying on convicted felons for reporting)
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.
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.
So who do you stand with? The First Amendment, or Brian Schweitzer and Vladimir Putin?
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.
Join ATP, Stop Gang Green!
American Tradition Partnership (ATP) is a no-compromise grassroots organization dedicated to fighting the radical environmentalist agenda. We support responsible development of natural resources and rational land use and management policies. Only together can we protect access, private property rights, and affordable energy for all Americans!