On November 10, Gina sent a public email accusing Republicans who support the CSKT Water Compact of accepting “bribe” money to attack other Republicans. But the so-called “bribe” money was a transparent public contribution and the so-called “attack” was normal inter-rivalry during Republican primary elections.
Also on November 10, the Flathead County Republican Central Committee (FCRCC) sent its November 13 Agenda with Item 11 “New Business: a. Standard of ethics” which turned out to be a secret, pre-planned attack on Senator Bruce Tutvedt with a Power Point presentation. But the FCRCC did not pre-inform Senator Tutvedt so he could defend the accusations against him.
Now, the ethics charge has backfired on those who planned and executed the kangaroo court, and who so far have refused to send Senator Tutvedt information he has rightfully requested. The meeting’s minutes and signup sheet should reveal the unethical parties who participated in this kangaroo court. – Ed
by Sandy Welch, 2012 Republican Candidate for Montana Office of Public Instruction
Those who align themselves with the uniformed radical wing are on another illogical angry rant. This time it is an attempt to convince others that a transparent public contribution made by a Tribe to a PAC supporting the election of open minded legislative candidates is somehow bribery.
Unlike the claim that was made, this is far from the first time that Republicans have raised money and spent it to challenge other Republicans in the primaries. Many of us were told that primaries were good for the party when it was the Tea Party attacking “RINO”s. Now that the tables are being turned memories have gotten short.
We must start with the understanding that words have meaning.
Bribe – something valuable (such as money) that is given in order to get someone to do something.
The email that was forwarded across the state (included below) is an attempt to convince the public that a transparent public contribution made by a Tribe to a PAC supporting the election of open minded legislative candidates is somehow bribery.
In this particular instance they claim that a state senator who has been publicly supportive of the water compact since the spring of 2013 should not have suggested in a May 2014 open public meeting (minutes where being taken and there were people in the audience) that the Tribe should consider making a contribution to a fully disclosed PAC that was intent on supporting the election of open minded candidates.
To analyze the quote highlighted in the claim (see CSKT minutes vol 14 num 54-56) we boil it down to the basics and remove the fluff: I am a public supporter of the water compact. I was in a group who worked on a bill to keep this alive in the 2013 session. There is a whole team that is working in support of the water compact. There is a plan to get the bill passed.
There is nothing there that promises votes for money, the implication in the email. Having a strategy or plan to pass, or oppose, a bill is part of the process. Planning on passing a bill is so much a part of what a legislator does, they are excluded in law from being called a lobbyist (See Montana Code 44.12.102 item 5(b) and Montana Code Annotated 5-7-102.). Legislators aren’t lobbyists because moving legislation, or stopping it, is what the public expects them to do.
This does not come close to the definition of bribe as none of the candidates were even aware of the source of funding nor did the Senator present promise anything other than an investment in the election efforts of open minded individuals might prove beneficial. Nor is this unusual as PACs use this model consistently to promote the elections of individuals that may be supportive of certain causes. Consider the action of groups such as the Family Foundation, NRA or the MEA/MFT.
Every dollar involved in this is publicly accounted for and is fully transparent. No legislator or candidate received one penny. Everyone can see where the money comes from and how it was spent. It is fully transparent, that is why all of the documents are available. This is unlike most other attacks that Republicans have endured in the past from dark money organizations with rumored legislative connections.
The structure of this attack also needs to be addressed as it is aimed specifically at representatives of Montana as demonstrated in the closing of the initial email.
While this issue was first “discovered” in July, it was put on hold to be addressed “after the election”. This timing was purposeful. Could it be that it was timed more to damage certain legislators than to address the outlined concern? Then the email was distributed statewide and to legislators. The earliest version I have seen is dated Nov 10 (shown below).
Supposedly there was outrage from the local area here and from across the state that something needed to be done. So the Flathead Republican Central Committee discussed censuring Senator Bruce Tutvedt at their regular November meeting. But this can’t be the real story since the agenda item “Standard of ethics” was included under New Business on the agenda sent out on Nov 10. So this was a coordinated effort to attack.
The central committee did not let Tutvedt know that his actions were going to be the subject of discussion. He was not in attendance nor was anyone there to represent him. At the meeting, Senator Verdell Jackson and Leonard Falk, deputy treasurer and treasurer of Republican Headquarters PAC respectively, presented a PowerPoint outlining the argument against Senator Tutvedt. There was no attempt to invite anyone who may have had firsthand knowledge of any of the documents that were presented as “fact”.
Reportedly, this kangaroo court took two hours to develop a letter of censure and discuss a recall campaign. It is highly unlikely for a ‘not guilty’ verdict when only the prosecution gets to present.
Upon hearing about all of this Tutvedt called the Chair of the Central Committee and has yet to receive any information about the action taken or even had his phone call returned. I talked with the Chair of the central committee and was told I would be emailed a copy of the censure letter on Friday but have yet to receive it.
It seems that the Central Committee didn’t look up censure since it can only be used against a legislator who has been convicted of a felony.
Any office holder can be threatened with recall at any time. It is one thing to try it, it is another to be successful.
All of this begs the question, why is this upset group going through all this effort to put an ugly face on this PAC or this Senator? Because they are angry that they are losing yet another issue and thus have now resorted to trying to claim their loss is linked to some kind of corruption. But they are not losing because of corruption, they are losing because the facts do not support their contentions on the compact or on corruption.
Now they are aggressively following extremist’s strategies where words and events are redefined in the court of public opinion to meet the objective of spinning up a corruption conspiracy. Fortunately the actual documents and open nature of all the transactions make such allegations here laughable once logical scrutiny is applied. Yes they are blasting emails statewide, but they are only gaining traction within their own echo chamber. While huge effort is being made to keep the facts hidden by excluding those voices who “dare to disagree” from being published, the CSKT is simply too big an issue to be contained in such a manner.
In Montana we are fortunate that open public meeting laws, including those followed by the Tribe, create an environment where everyone – from experts in a field, to knowledgeable practitioners and the general public – gets to present their argument. Probing questions can be asked, reports and studies generated. Poor logic, emotional vitriol, and false claims of corruption do not long survive in such a factual environment as the facts win out in the end.
Our Montana government is not corrupt, including in its attempt to create a successful CSKT water compact for everyone. In fact, Montana is carefully moving as it takes the time to identify the facts and make thoughtful decisions. Nor was the investment publicly made by the Tribe, and spoken of by a supportive state senator, anything other than a suggestion that supporting the election of responsible leaders has merit for everyone.
 Merriam-Webster online at www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/bribe
Here is the subject email of November 10, 2014:
From: Gina Klempel
Sent: Monday, November 10, 2014 07:43 PM
To: Gina Klempel
Subject: If it looks like a bribe
In following this paper trail, for the first time in Montana’s history we have republicans seeking to eliminate fellow republicans openly and aggressively.
Not only are republicans using unethical means to solicit funds from the unions and the Tribe for this purpose, but these same republicans are attacking supporters of republicans.
Laid out before you is the paper trail that connects the dots between money that looks every bit like bribe money and other funds being spent to the tune of almost $120,000 to attack these republicans.
They attacked the character of: Mark Blasdel, of Kalispell; Sarah Laszloffy, of Laurel; Jeff Essmann, of Billings; Matthew Monforton, of Bozeman; Bob Wagner, of Harrison; Brooke Erb, of Dillon; Mike Miller, of Helmville; Frank Delgado, of St. Ignatius; Barry Usher, of Billings; Jed Hinkle, of Bozeman; Bob Brown, of Thompson Falls; Mike Hebert, of Somers; Ann Morren, of Conrad; Ray Gorham, of Sheppard; Scott Boulanger, of Darby; Kris Hansen, of Havre; Gordon Vance, of Bozeman.
This unethical behavior is documented in the minutes (attached) of the (CSKT) Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribe meetings and on the C-6 reports of the (PAC) Political Action Committees set up by Bruce Tutvedt, Sandy Welch, Lew Jones and Carmen Mowbray. This gang of four certainly does not represent me nor my interests.
Attached documents explain:
- Tutvedt directly accepted funds from the tribe for lobbying against his constituency.
- It is highly unethical for a sitting senator to solicit funds for lobbying.
- Those funds show up as deposited in the PAC designated below.
- Tutvedt verbalizes his plan of attack openly!
- Shows Mt BASE set up for the purpose of supporting Bruce Tutvedt and other irresponsible republicans.
- Shows that Bruce Tutvedt, Llew Jones, Sandy Welch, and others, personally contributing to Mt BASE
- Shows transfer of funds to this PAC from MT Base
- Targeted republicans are named in the document
- Shows Funds received from Tribe
- Show Tutvedt involvement
Targeted Republicans.pdf; Sample hit pieces are attached, sent against Mark Blasdel and others. (note the sender)
Multiple Complaints have been filed against these PACs and republicans with more complaints on the way.
It is our wish for you, that come April 2015 you will be able to look back at the session now before you, and say, “Not once did I place my agenda above doing what is right by those that voted for me.” Ask yourself what does word representative really mean.
The “Targeted Republicans.pdf” above was copied from WatchDogWire.com. Here are some excerpts of the WatchDogWire article: – Ed
State Senator Bruce Tutvedt (R-Kalispell) clearly supports the CSKT Water Rights Compact, as argued in an opinion piece for Missoulian. CSKT clearly intends to support Republicans who support their move:
On May 22, Council took action on a sensitive issue related to the CSKT Water Compact.[…] Council voted, and a majority supported the contribution of $22,000 to Republicans who support the Compact. In 2013, when the compact was defeated in the legislature, very few Republicans voted in support. In preparation for the 2015 legislature, Council has been pursuing broader support for the Compact.
Although the amounts spent are not large by national standards, MRL has taken a prominent role in the battle against fiscal and social conservatives within the GOP, in favor of the self-proclaimed “responsible Republicans”. As Missoulian reported the following in May:
- Montanans for Responsible Leadership, reported spending $11,100 the past three weeks, primarily on mailers criticizing Republican House candidate Randy Pinocci of Sun River and Senate candidates Barry Usher and Rep. Cary Smith in Billings.
- Montanans for Responsible Leadership reported getting $20,000 from another PAC, Montana Business Advocates for Responsible Elections, and $17,100 from individual donors, including $5,000 each from state Sen. Jim Peterson of Buffalo, Harold Tutvedt of Kalispell and Douglas Kohrs of Edina, Minn.
- Montana Business Advocates for Responsible Elections was formed in 2012 by several Republican legislators, in response to being attacked during primaries by outside conservative groups. It has raised $54,500 the past 18 months, including $5,000 donations from several legislators that are part of the “responsible Republican” group: Sens. Bruce Tutvedt of Kalispell, Ed Buttrey of Great Falls, Taylor Brown of Huntley, Llew Jones of Conrad and Cook.
Given the relatively small amount of dollars spent, donations running to the tens of thousands from groups on the political left comprise a substantial percentage of the budget for MRL.