Flathead Beacon Columnist Nails the Stanford Mailer

Aaron Flint posted on October 28, 2014 12:34 :: 13571 Views

Look for a must-read post-election column by The Flathead Beacon’s Dave Skinner when it comes to this whole sideshow about an academic research mailer in the Montana Supreme Court race between liberal Mike Wheat and conservative Lawrence VanDyke. 

Skinner called in to our statewide radio talk show Voices of Montana and says he is a little upset about this whole “flapadoodle.” At first, he says he thought it was some sort of Republican operation when he first heard about the mailer.  But after doing some of his own research about the Database on Ideology, Money in Politics, and Elections (DIME), Skinner says the mailer is legit. 

SKINNER “I think the best way to find out what a candidate’s ideology is, is if you go hey- who’s giving them money…I think this stuff is straight, I think these guys kind of blew their experiment- but on the other hand, I would love to see the results of this experiment because it’s important information based on how these things go.  So what I want to tell your listeners is, hey, if you got one of those DIME cards- keep it, because it is the best information you’re gonna get on this judicial election.”

Skinner says the whole ordeal is a story filled with irony and hypocrisy.  He pointed out the hypocrisy of Sec of State Linda McCulloch for not going after the trial lawyer mailers for similar issues.

SKINNER: The DIME data shows that the Montana Supreme Court is the 6th most liberal in the country.  Now, I don’t think Montana voters are the 6th most liberal voting population- there’s not a really good match there.  And part of the reason for that is because these races have been low key and they’ve been the private sandbox of the legal population, and that needs to change. 

Full audio from Dave Skinner, columnist for The Flathead Beacon:

Click to Listen


As Will Deschamps points out in the above Tweet, when a Democratic candidate in Montana uses the state seal- all they get is a quiet letter from Sec. McCulloch.  But when some academic researchers at Stanford and Dartmouth do it- full blown press conference followed by anonymous bloggers likely inside the Secretary’s office calling for the professors to be imprisoned.



In an unprecedented abuse of power, CPP Motl has suggested that he intends to utilize taxpayer dollars to send mail pieces to 100,000 Montanans to educate the public about the hotly contested Supreme Court race between Lawrence Vandyke and Mike Wheat. According to an interview published last night:

Motl says… that voters will receive some kind of communication, probably another mailer, before the election, explaining what happened. He says that his office will send that on it’s own if it has to…”


This is vastly outside his power and duties as CPP. It is widely known that Mr. Motl has already utilized his budget and is searching for supplementary funds for this endeavor because his budget can’t support it. Now, he wants to take the unprecedented step to correct a mailer that is likely not even illegal.

Former Senate Majority Leader Fred Thomas was shocked by the news. “I can’t imagine what he is thinking. I have never heard of anything like this. He has no legal authority to try and influence an election outcome and he especially can’t use taxpayer dollars to do it.”

In an interview with Edward O’Brien, Mr. Motl concedes that this flyer may very well be perfectly legal, he just wants to use taxpayer funds to explain the contents.


Any neutral observer can see Mr. Motl is clearly utilizing his position to push a Liberal partisan agenda on a non-partisan Supreme Court race. He is unhappy that this research project mailer points out the Mike Wheat is as Liberal as Barack Obama.

However, Mr. Motl claims that his real concern is that voters might get confused. Interestingly, Mr. Motl has no issue with a trail lawyer group (Montanans for Liberty and Justice) mailer that is labeled “Montana Voters Guide for Judicial Elections” and lists the Montana Secretary of State website (see attached). Of course, maybe that is because Motl’s former law firm (Morrison Sherwood Wilson & Deola) has donated $10,000 to that group.


Al Smith

Tuesday, October 28, 2014 5:07 PM

Desperation sets in!

Why does Motl think he needs to explain anything?
Oh, wait…we are talking about liberals here.
As a Democrat political hack he certainly knows who needs schooling on how to vote.

As to our supreme court being one of the most liberal in the country, I don’t know about that. But, it certainly is one that can’t or won’t follow its own precedents. I’m thinking new faces are in order and those faces do not include Justice’s Rice or Wheat.

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