Thursday, October 17, 2013

Dark Money, 'Ron Paul Inc,' Meth House Documents and a Grand Jury Hearing

The first few pieces of a not very pretty puzzle are falling into place.

Pro Publica reports:
In a sharply worded ruling, a federal judge in Montana said Tuesday that documents found inside a Colorado meth house pointing to possible election law violations will not be returned to the couple claiming the papers were stolen from one of their cars.

Instead, the thousands of pages will remain where they are—with a federal grand jury in Montana, investigating the dark money group American Tradition Partnership, once known as Western Tradition Partnership, or WTP.

The documents, detailed last fall in a Frontline documentary and in ProPublica coverage, point to possible illegal coordination between candidates and WTP, which since 2008 has worked to replace moderate Republicans with more conservative candidates in both Montana and Colorado. The documents, including a folder labeled "Montana $ Bomb," provided the first real glimpse inside a dark money group. Such so-called social welfare nonprofits, which have poured more than $350 million into federal election ads in recent years, don't have to disclose their donors.

Conservative political consultant Christian LeFer, a former WTP official, and his wife, Allison LeFer, who helped run the couple's printing shop, sued Montana's former Commissioner of Political Practices Jim Murry and the state of Montana to recover the documents.

On Tuesday, the LeFers lost in almost every way possible. They didn't get their documents. They didn't get any money; instead, they'll have to pay Murry's fees, which haven't yet been totaled. They won't be able to file their complaint against Murry ever again.

And on every page of his ruling, U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy seemed to somehow insult them.

At one point in his 34-page ruling, U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy referred to "the procedural morass caused by the LeFers' posturing." Since last fall, the LeFers have filed at least five separate complaints in different courts, sometimes with factual errors.

Molloy's colorful order is a fitting coda for one of the strangest stories about how dark money groups have tried to influence elections.

Although WTP operated at the state level, it won national attention for its fight against campaign-finance restrictions. It sued successfully to overturn Montana's ban on corporate spending in elections, which meant the U.S. Supreme Court's Citizens United decision applied to all states. WTP also fought with state regulators for more than two years over their ruling that the group was a political committee and should have to report its donors. (Last year, ProPublica and Frontline obtained the bank records of the group, the first time a dark money group's donors have been made public.)

The mysterious boxes of documents, found in a meth house in Colorado, were sent to Montana investigators in March 2011, months after state investigators wrapped up their initial case. After Frontline obtained them in 2012, ProPublica and Frontline spent months investigating how Western Tradition Partnership and LeFer appealed to donors and worked with candidates to shape elections. Coordination between outside groups and candidates is not allowed.

The federal grand jury subpoenaed the documents last December, along with other documents relating to complaints against WTP. Grand jury proceedings are secret, so it's not clear what is being investigated. But the judge's order Tuesday indicates that the investigation involves more than just the Colorado documents. It's also the first sign in months that the grand jury is still hearing evidence.
What is WTP all about? PBS reported in November 2012:
 WTP [...] has worked to elect conservatives in Montana and Colorado and has won national attention for a lawsuit that led the Supreme Court to apply its Citizens United ruling to states, are striking.
The bank records highlight WTP’s ties to groups backing libertarian Ron Paul. The Conservative Action League, a Virginia social welfare nonprofit run at the time in part by John Tate, most recently Paul’s campaign manager, transferred $40,000 to WTP in August 2008, bank records show. Tate was also a consultant for WTP. In addition, WTP gave $5,000 to a group called the SD Campaign for Liberty, affiliated with Paul and the national Campaign for Liberty.
 Now, the big question is: What do the do the "Colorado meth house" documents say and where will it lead?

In a teaser to what is likely to be a still forthcoming main event, the Montana Commissioner of Political Practices issued a number of rulings on Wednesday. The Missoulian reports:
 In far-reaching decisions Wednesday, Montana’s top political cop said a prominent “dark money” group and similar groups appear to have broken state campaign laws when they coordinated mailers promoting or attacking candidates in a 2010 legislative primary election.

The rulings from Commissioner of Political Practices Jonathan Motl also said evidence shows former state Rep. Dan Kennedy, a Laurel Republican, accepted illegal contributions from the same groups and failed to properly report those donations[...]Candidates for state office in Montana run “with the expectation that they will not be bushwhacked by late, undisclosed and unreported expenditures,” Motl added.

The rulings – more than three years in the making – focus primarily on American Tradition Partnership, a pro-business, anti-environmentalist group that’s been a lightning rod for campaign finance controversy in Montana and elsewhere.

The nonprofit group, formed in 2008 as Western Tradition Partnership, has financed numerous mailers attacking or promoting candidates in Montana in the 2008, 2010 and 2012 elections – mailers often sent in the final days before the election.


  1. is that all you got ? lol. When are you going to do reporting on Wenzel Inc and Jen Rubin neocon connection

    1. I doubt that's all Wenzel has. He has been way ahead on this story and it appears there is much, much more. He wouldn't be reporting this if it stops here.

  2. I just knew a meth lab was somehow involved.

    On a more serious note, let's not forget that none of these things are crimes in a libertarian sense.

    1. I immediately thought of "Breaking Bad" and the brief flash of the Ron Paul sticker in Gale Boetticher's notebook.


    2. I remember that scene. It was a deliberate and not very subtle hatchet job on Ron Paul and libertarians. The message was apparently "libertarians are all a bunch of amoral meth-head drug dealers." What else would you expect from the Hollyweird Prog-Bot cultural pollution machine?

  3. How much longer before the Koch Bros connection to the Ron Paul campaign is exposed? The feud between the paleo libertarians and the cato libertarians is a hoax. Talk about a conspiracy.

    1. What is a crime and an outrage is the fact that the statists and Keynesians have total control of the education system and the media. I've been a libertarian and Austrian since 1973 and I've never seen Austrian concepts explained on TV (except for 2 Hayek appearances in the 1970s) but everyone is nevertheless constantly subjected to the latest statist panic of the moment.

      The purpose of "campaign finance reform" is to preclude a wealthy person from funding any candidate that does not toe the statist line. Libertarian candidates who have no chance of winning and will be completely ignored by the media regardless of support still generally cannot collect more than around $2500 per contributor while the "major party" candidates receive endless free publicity from the media. It was something of a miracle that Ron Paul received the coverage that he did.

      One of the "progressives'" most important goals is to obtain more restrictions upon campaign finance. They know they cannot win an argument so they want to criminalize the arguments of their freedom loving opponents.

    2. Prof. Tom DiLorenzo:

      Smiles, High Fives, and Champagne All Around at MSNB-PRAVDA

      I spent about three minutes this morning flipping through the (faux) “news” channels and the states’ sock puppets at all the “major” networks were collectively wetting their pants in orgasmic celebration of the looters and murderers returning to work in DC. One Baltimore TV reporter interviewed a federal bureaucrat and asked him how he “felt” about being “furloughed” (i.e., having a fully-paid, sixteen-day vacation) and the bureaucrat said it was “horrible, just horrible!!!” Oh, the humanity.

      Anyone collecting more the $2500 per person for an election campaign of FREE SPEECH to counteract that is obviously guilty of a felony.

  4. Who cares? First let's consider the sources - PBS & ProPublica, both left wing propaganda mills. Have they done any real investigative reporting on the IRS scandal, the Fast & Furious scandal, the NSA meta-spying scandal?, the James Rosen/AP DOJ scandal? I doubt it.

    Like Ed Ucation says, it's important to keep in mind that nothing revealed in this "investigation" is immoral or criminal in the libertarian sense. Who cares if WTP violated some inscrutable provision of Montana's byzantine election laws.

    These state level regulations are mostly anti-libertarian and anti-free speech anyway. If the right to privacy is good enough to legitimize snuffing out a million fetal infants a year (often at the expense of taxpayers who believe abortion is murder) then why isn't it good enough to protect political donors from overbearing regulatory meddlers.

    This whole "news" story is complete bullshit. I can't believe this website would waste time on such crap.