Montana’s Money Sewer

Swimming up Montana’s monstrous, toxin-filled River of Darkness as far as possible before the election

By Dave Skinner

Montana voters are drowning under 2020’s unprecedented tsunami of deceptive, nasty political ads. We should ask: A.) Who the flip are these creatures? B.) Whom do they expect will fall for this garbage?  and above all, C.) Who pays for this sewage?

The short answers, of course, are: A.) Anonymous, amoral political minions; B.) You; and C.) Arrogant oligarchs intent on shaping America in their image, not yours.

Don’t expect any of the Montana media outlets now surfing this epic wave of profit to waste a penny of their windfall smoking out these minions and oligarchs before the election. They never have.

Therefore, I’m dedicating my next few Beacon columns into trying what nobody else will, swimming up Montana’s monstrous, toxin-filled River of Darkness as far as possible before the election.

Let’s begin by paddling up the right fork of the dark-money sewer: One Nation, which has bought ads bragging how tough incumbent Republican U.S. Senator Steve Daines will get with China.

One Nation’s internet domain, onenationamerica.org, was first registered anonymously (of course) in late March, 2014. Yet rich insiders clearly knew who One Nation (ONA) really is and what they do, because by the 2016 election, One Nation could cut a nice, fat, $11-million-even check to the Senate Leadership Fund “527 super PAC” (another Montana ad buyer), and it only gets better.

According to One Nation’s 2018 IRS Form 990 tax return, it’s merely “a non-profit public policy advocacy organization,” registered as a 501(c)4 which is not required to disclose its donors, ever – donors who coughed up $58.1 million in 2018.

From that, ONA spent $39 million on “public communications.” Fully $28 million of that went to Main Street Media Group at PO Box 25093, Alexandria, Virginia, which in turn was the nation’s second largest “vendor” for Republican super PACs in Election 2018.

ONA also shot $1.3 million on “research to determine how various demographic groups respond to current national policy issues” – in short, polling and focus groups to find the most manipulative sound bites for that expensive air time.

ONA also gave $3.8 million in grants to “nonprofit 501c groups that share similar missions,” recipients ONA “carefully evaluates.” Carefully, mind you.

Where did the extra go? Oh, ONA transferred that, $18.6 million, to poor old Senate Leadership Fund, part of the paltry $127 million SLF spent in the 2018 election. It was easy, because ONA and SLF have the same treasurer, one Caleb Crosby.

Who runs ONA? Stephen Law is listed as CEO. There’s a Stephen Law who began his career with Mitch McConnell in 1992, moved to the National Republican Senatorial Committee, then when Bush 2 was president, he became Department of Labor deputy secretary. After Bush, Law became general counsel at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, jumping in 2010 to be president of American Crossroads/Crossroads GPS.

Ah … Bush 2 and Crossroads … who else do we know worked for both? That’s right, Fox News contributor Karl Rove! Cozy, right? According to Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (a tax-exempt 501c3 “charity” that also never discloses its donors, and seems to only “watchdog” dirty money on the right), Crossroads was founded as a 527 (which has to disclose donors to the Federal Elections Commission the same year as the election), “but after the founders of [Crossroads the 527] faced challenges raising money from donors who did not want their names disclosed” they started Crossroads GPS (a 501c4 not required to disclose), thereby “allowing donors to remain anonymous as long as politics did not become [GPS’s] major purpose.”

What is ONA’s “major purpose?” Getting Republican senators elected? Hiding money? Making money? Yes, yes and yes!

How does it all tie together? Very closely, indeed. ONA paid Mr. Law $236,000 for a 15-hour week in 2018, plus another $147,000 from something called “Archimedia LLC.” Well, Archimedia shares the exact same business address with not just ONA, but SLF, too, plis Holtzman Vogel Josefiak Torchinsky PLLC, Attorneys. Or did in 2018 – now it’s up for lease, 5,049 snazzy square feet for just $10,000 a month. The law firm has since upgraded to offices in Washington, D.C. proper. Dang, I’m in the wrong business.

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