GFT: Web of Relations Belie Schweitzer Aide’s Denial

John Adams did the heavy lifting and offered up a very in depth look at the statements made by a top political consultant to former Governor Brian Schweitzer in Sunday’s Great Falls Tribune. 

Here’s the headline: “Web of relations belies aide’s denial: Connecting Montana’s former governor to dark money”

Two weeks after news reports first linked former Gov. Brian Schweitzer to a pair of mysterious dark money political groups, a Tribune investigation shows Schweitzer’s ties to those groups are deeper than a top political consultant let on.

Photographs uncovered on Facebook show Milstein and Schweitzer also know each other personally.
According to the Facebook page for Charlotte, N.C., chef Susanne Dillingham, Milstein last September hosted a birthday party for Schweitzer around the time Schweitzer was in Charlotte for the 2012 Democratic National Convention.

Photos of the birthday party posted on the Facebook page for Dillingham’s business, in an album titled “Cooking for Mrs. Connie Milstein and Governor Brian Schweitzer,” show Schweitzer and his wife, Nancy, posing for photos with Milstein, Milstein’s husband, Jehan-Christophe de La Haye Saint Hilaire, Dillingham and other unidentified individuals. The Facebook album also contains photos of Schweitzer staff, including his security chief, Montana Highway Patrol Lt. Steve Baiamonte, and Franklin Hall.

Aaron Flint posted on July 03, 2013 11:34 :: 348 Views

UPDATED POST- GFT’s John Adams gets response from Schweitzer advisor, excerpt below.  One additional note- the rumor among several top Montana Republicans is that former Gov. Brian Schweitzer (D-MT) is planning a July 9th announcement that he will run for the US Senate.  I have not been able to confirm that with Democratic sources close to the Governor however.  

Congressman Steve Daines “bumps up fundraising” according to Politico. This news comes as another potential 2014 US Senate candidate in Montana is being questioned over ties to what appears to be a Democratic dark money group connected to former Gov. Brian Schweitzer (D-MT). 

First, the news from Politico:  

Montana Rep. Steve Daines raised about $415,000 in the second quarter of the year as he weighs a possible 2014 Senate campaign, a source close to the first-term Republican’s political operation said.

That figure – covering the period from April through June – reflects a modest but noticeable acceleration of Daines’s fundraising. He reported raising a quarter-million dollars in the first three months of 2013; should he run for reelection to the House, Daines would have little reason to expect a difficult fight.

Politico then added that Daines is taking a “serious look” at making a run for the Senate. 

Meanwhile, as former Gov. Brian Schweitzer (D-MT) is also expected to be a potential 2014 US Senate candidate, more details are now available showing connections between Schweitzer and a nonprofit that Fox Business Network’s David Asman says appears to be “skirting an IRS rule.” 

The Great Falls Tribune’s John Adams added this to the coverage on his MTLowdown blog: 

One point FOX didn’t pick up on was the fact that the treasurer of the Council for Sustainable America is, or was, Dave Gallik. Gallik is the man Schweitzer appointed in 2011 to be the commissioner of political practices, Montana’s top political campaign and ethics enforcer.

Media Trackers Montana in April reported that Gallik was Schweitzer’s former attorney and served as treasurer for Council for Sustainable America, which received a $335,000 contribution from the Democratic Governors Association four months after Schweitzer became chair of the committee.

There are more questions than answers stemming from the FOX News report.  What is Schweitzer’s tie to these political organizations and what is their true purpose? Who’s funding them? Why was Dave Gallik acting as treasurer of a 501(c)(4) political group while at the same serving as commissioner of political practices in apparent violation of state ethics laws? The law says the commissioner of political practices “may not knowingly…participate in any political activity or in a political campaign.” Was Gallik, while acting as the commissioner of political practices, doing campaign work on behalf of Schweitzer?


The Montana GOP, via Facebook, says the Schweitzer camp is in “damage control mode” following the Fox Business report, as John Adams now has this report featuring a response from a Schweitzer advisor:

“The only connection whatsoever between the governor’s campaign and the entity that was shut down three years ago (Council for Sustainable America) is my personal P.O. Box,” Hall said.

Hall said he has been a political consultant since 2004. Prior to moving to Montana, Hall did consulting work for the Democratic Governor’s Association, which Schweitzer chaired in 2009. Hall later moved to Helena, where he did private consulting work until Schweitzer hired him in November 2010 as senior adviser.

Former Rep. Dave Gallik, D-Helena, the man Schweitzer appointed in 2011 as Commissioner of Political Practices, was treasurer of the Helena-based group until it dissolved in 2010. Gallik’s signature appeared on the group’s 2010 990 form in August 2011, but Hall said the group had not been active for more than a year at that point and the 990 filing was a required formality.

Related- is Target Soon to Offer Bolo Ties?

Politico’s Morning Energy has this:

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has joined the board of director for Target, the retail giant announced Tuesday. “Ken brings a unique background and perspective to Target that will be invaluable as we continue to explore and seize new opportunities to drive profitable growth in this rapidly-changing environment,” Target Chairman, President and CEO Gregg Steinhafel said.

Next stop: A line of affordable but stylish bolos? (h/t Bob King)

Schweitzer had hired Hall, a political consultant who Lee Newspapers reported “often accompanied Schweitzer on his out-of-state political trips,” less than two months before appointing Hall’s future wife.

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