by Sandy Welch, 2012 Republican Candidate for Montana Office of Public Instruction
On November 17, I explained why the claimed “censure” of Senator Bruce Tutvedt by the Flathead County Republican Central Committee (FCRCC) is an unsupported, inflammatory personal attack on Senator Bruce Tutvedt. However, on November 19, Jim White took the side of the Republican radicals who now dominate the FCRCC. Here is my reply to White.
The fact is Senator Bruce Tutvedt was active in fundraising for a political action committee. This is perfectly legal, is not bribery, is not lobbying, and is not compensation.
Examine the reports
Let’s take a look at actions that are acceptable to and encouraged by the Flathead County Republican Central Committee.
Senator Verdell Jackson raises money for the ReHe PAC. He is vocal in his opposition to the water compact and spends time with candidates to “educate” them and get them to pledge their opposition to the compact and spends PAC money promoting them. Of the $54,606 dollars raised by the ReHe PAC, $20,000 came from Excellence in Voting and $20,000 came from the Flathead County Republican Central Committee. Both are political committees.
Excellence in Voting is a PAC whose chairman and only contributor is Ray Thompson, who made three contributions (2008 and 2010) totaling $170,000 and is a staunch opponent of the water compact. Excellence in Voting and Ray Thompson individually make contributions during primary races.
These are the efforts that are all disclosed.
Now let’s look at what they consider to be misconduct.
Senator Bruce Tutvedt raised money for Montanans for Responsible Leadership (MRL), a PAC. He is vocal in his support of the water compact since 2013 among other issues. He raised $22,000 from the CSKT.
Montana BASE, a PAC, made expenditures in the 2012 primary, some for Tutvedt. Tutvedt contributed to Montana BASE during a fundraising drive in 2013. In 2014 Montana BASE contributed $22,679 to MRL, $1,000 to the Montana Republican Party and $21,887 to Stop Dark Money for the ballot initiative.
MRL made expenditures in the 2014 primary elections.
An inflammatory claim
Discussions among legislators, candidates, organizations and/or any members of the public regarding whether to support or oppose the water compact or any other issue does not change the nature of a sitting Senator raising money for a PAC.
The sentence, “Tutvedt all but guaranteed passage of the CSKT Water Compact if he were to be funded” is inflammatory. No one can guarantee the future and there was nothing said that any actions would change if a contribution were not made. There is nothing conditional in the Tutvedt quote, but the NWLN quote does make it accusatory to summarize in this way.
The Tutvedt statement relates plans and strategies on how to move toward a goal that the parties in the conversation share. These conversations happen regularly on both sides of the issue in private and public conversations.
The test is when you protect the rights of those with whom you disagree
The fact is the Flathead County Republican Central Committee, who by party precedent and form should not have a preference during primary elections, does not like who MRL chose to support and who they chose to oppose. They draw a distinction, not a legal one but a personal one, between PACs that operate during the primary and one that operates during primary and general elections. We hear, ‘primaries are good’, only when their personal enemies are being attacked.
They do not support the Constitutional rights of freedom of speech and freedom of association for those who do not hold the same opinion. The conclusion that a law has been broken is unjust as they are not the proper authority to determine such a thing. They do not support the right to a jury. Their actions betray their words.