American Tradition Partnership
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.
Three “Gang Green” organizations, the League of Conservation Voters (LCV), Montana Conservation Voters and the political action committee “Montana Hunters and Anglers Leadership Fund” are illegally electioneering for the Libertarian candidate in the state’s U.S. Senate race, hoping to throw the election in favor of unpopular Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.)
“Jon Tester and his liberal allies realize that Tester cannot win this election on his own, so they have engaged in illegal, deceptive practices in a desperate attempt to trick conservative voters,” Montana Republican Party spokesman Chris Shipp said Wednesday as the group filed suit in federal court alleging the groups failed to disclose their activities.
As pretty much the only group in Montana that obeys the law, ATP offers cash rewards for information leading to the arrest and conviction of Montana officials.
“The Montana GOP cited the PAC’s recent $146,358 mailing expense and a previous $410,000 contribution from LCV to the PAC as the basis for its complaint. It also noted the Hunters and Anglers PAC has ties to Tester and Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.),” The Hill reports.
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)
Bullock steered $262K in state money to brother, himself; ATP turns evidence over to FBI investigators
> 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/
“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?
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/
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.
Conservative group American Tradition Partnership now one of nation’s biggest media outlets
> New “Montana Statesman” newspaper sent directly to 120,000 households/180,000 voters
> Nation’s 65th-largest paper
> Will publish exclusive investigative reporting through the election and legislative session
> Offering cash rewards for information leading to the arrest and conviction of Montana officials
> FERGUSON: ‘It’s a bad time to be aligned with the corrupt Helena establishment. There is nowhere to run. There is nowhere to hide. More free speech is a great thing because it disinfects the political process.’
BOZEMAN — American Tradition Partnership is taking its message of good jobs, affordable energy and clean government directly to a majority of the state’s voters, unveiling its new Montana Statesman newspaper last week.
With a print circulation of 120,000 mailed directly to targeted voters the Statesman is easily the state’s largest newspaper, nearly three times larger than The Billings Gazette’s circulation of around 45,000. It is also the nation’s 65th-largest paper, reaching more readers than notable institutions such as The Richmond Times-Dispatch and The Des Moines Register.
Geared to political independents, the Statesman will publish several editions through Election Day and throughout 2013 exposing corruption and official misconduct.
And with an average of 1.5 voters per household the Statesman reaches 180,000 voters – half of the state’s projected turnout on Nov. 6.
“We are now the most powerful media force in Montana,” said Statesman publisher and editor-in-chief Donald Ferguson. “We are the only newspaper in Montana that does not endorse or oppose candidates and the only newspaper in Montana that does not take advertising dollars from corporations or candidates,” said Ferguson.
Ferguson is a political independent who has worked at two newspapers and a public interest law firm that investigated and prosecuted corruption in the Bush and Clinton administrations.
“I’ve spent my life fighting corruption and powerful politicians, even the President. We will publish exclusive investigative reporting on the corruption in Helena and deliver it directly to all of Montana,” said Ferguson. “More free speech is a great thing because it disinfects the political process.”
The Statesman is the only Montana media outlet offering cash rewards for tips that lead to the arrest and conviction of Montana officials.
“We’re the only media outlet in Montana not tied to corrupt politicians. It’s a bad time to be aligned with the Helena establishment. There is nowhere to run. There is nowhere to hide,” said Ferguson.
But the Statesman’s coverage is not all about Steve Bullock’s 18 allegations of illegal fundraising, his false and defamatory claims against ATP that have been rejected by every court or a possible new federal contempt charge against the troubled Attorney General. The Statesman also features fresh new coverage of food, sports, parenting, pet care and Montana life.
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!