Enviro Group Denies Funding Libertarian Ads

An anti-coal environmental group backing Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT) is denying claims that the group is now funding $500,000 worth of ads in support of the libertarian candidate, all as part of an effort to sway the critical US Senate race in Montana. 

The Rehberg campaign says the effort, led by prominent Montana Democrats, shows that the Tester campaign has abandoned attempts to convince voters to support Tester, and is instead hoping they can swing voters away from Rehberg.   

The Hill has this:

The League of Conservation Voters (LCV) said Monday it had nothing to do with a $500,000 TV spot that advocated for Libertarian candidate Dan Cox. The advertisement slams GOP candidate Rep. Denny Rehberg, who is challenging Tester.

While LCV might have requested that Hunters and Anglers use its donation for certain purposes, federal law does not require the PAC to adhere to such commitments, Paul S. Ryan, senior counsel with the Campaign Legal Center, told The Hill on Monday.

Ryan said a smaller group like Hunters and Anglers would likely honor a “handshake agreement” from big political players like LCV, though it is not obligated to. Still, he said LCV’s contribution likely freed the group to spend on messaging that it could not have financed otherwise.

The Daily Caller highlights some of the key players behind the group funding the ads:

The group’s president is Land Tawney, a member of Montana Sportsmen for Obama who also serves on Tester’s Montana Sportsmen’s Advisory Panel. On July 28, 2011, he made a $500 donation to Tester.

Kendall Van Dyk, the group’s secretary, is currently a Democratic state senator in Montana. He is also a member of Montana Sportsmen for Obama

Barrett Kaiser, who is listed as the treasurer of the group, is the former chief of staff to Sen. Max Baucus, Montana’s senior senator and a Democrat. He made three separate donations to Montanans for Tester in 2011, totaling $2,350.

George Cooper, the director of Montana Hunters and Anglers, is senior vice president at Forbes-Tate, a consulting firm.

“Even if Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan win on November 6, his agenda will be stymied if Republicans can’t pick up at least three more seats than their current 47 and control the Senate,” as The Wall Street Journal notes in a recent editorial.

Consider the record. In 2011 and 2012 the House passed more than three-dozen economic or jobs-related bills and with only a few exceptions they died in the Senate without a vote. The bills dealt with regulatory relief, tax reduction, domestic drilling for energy, offshore drilling, a jobs bill for veterans, repeal of ObamaCare and many more.

Mr. Reid even declared in 2011 that it would be “foolish for us to do a budget,” no doubt because he thought that would allow voters to see that what Democrats really want is even more spending and higher taxes. This would have made life difficult for vulnerable Democratic incumbents who pass themselves off as moderates in election years, such as Pennsylvania’s Bob Casey, Montana’s Jon Tester and Florida’s Bill Nelson.

Meanwhile, a Republican legislator who represents Libby and Eureka is taking the Tester campaign to task over their ads criticizing Rehberg for not supporting Tester’s wilderness bill.  Rep. Cuffe emailed the guest opinion column to me and a number of other statewide outlets.  The Montana GOP also has his letter posted on their website

By Rep. Mike Cuffe

Congressman Denny Rehberg got it right! 

He heard the people during town hall meetings in Lincoln County, and he stood up for us.  Sen. Jon Testers’ wilderness rider was a bad deal, and it still is.  Denny Rehberg was right to stop it, but here it comes again along with misleading attack ads against Rehberg. 

Accepting a few temporary logging jobs that could be blocked by environmental appeal in exchange for vast wilderness acreage is a bum deal. A limited, temporary timber supply in constant jeopardy of shut down by environmental appeal won‘t provide the economy to pay for schools and roads.  Our timber industry was destroyed by that, and now forests are managed by bug infestation and fire.   

How can Tester claim he collaborated with all of Lincoln County?  In the primary election June 6, 2000, Lincoln County residents officially voted 82 percent against more roadless areas.  In 2009 Rita Windom, former Lincoln County commissioner, complained that “Tester’s bill limits input to only a few people.”  On July 23, 2009, the Tobacco Valley News at Eureka editorialized that “What is being heralded as collaboration is in fact exclusion, the result of a most undemocratic process” and criticized the senator “for engaging in secret meetings that excluded most Montanans.”  Jim Hurst, president of Owens and Hurst Lumber at Eureka which closed for lack of timber supply, strongly opposes the rider and the process. 

On the other hand, Congressman Denny Rehberg called a public town meeting which filled the bleachers at Libby’s High School gymnasium in 2010, and a long line of residents expressed opinions against Tester’s proposal with only a few supporting it.  Again in August, 2012, Denny Rehberg held a public meeting at Libby’s city hall, and again he heard opinions against it.        

Tester’s ongoing proposal may be well intended, but a nebulous 10 year logging promise in exchange for vast tracts of permanent wilderness is a fool’s trade.  Would Jon Tester give away large pieces of his wheat farm in exchange for the possibility of a 10 year fertilizer supply?

Make a trade like this one time, and wilderness trades will become the federal land management tool forever.  Tester’s environmental friends know this.  Tester won’t even consider modifications to the rider.  Is that collaboration?

Rehberg understands wilderness should be determined according to established laws, not by slight of hand trades.   Denny Rehberg listens to the people.

Mike Cuffe represents Montana House District 2.  Cuffe, a Republican, was part owner of Lone Pine Timber Industries at Eureka and held various plywood and lumber management positions at Libby.  He took an active part in natural resource issues during the 62nd Legislature and will be unopposed on the ballot. 

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