WTP files to drop Political Practices complaints, protect Montanans’ First Amendment rights

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

WTP files to drop Political Practices complaints, protect Montanans’ First Amendment rights
Motion for summary judgment would drop all complaints, allow corporate in-kind contributions, strike down ‘political committee’ and campaign ‘expenditure’ statutes as unconstitutional

HELENA, MONT. -- Western Tradition Partnership (WTP) filed a motion for partial summary judgment Tuesday in their First Amendment free speech and association case against Montana Attorney General Steve Bullock and the Office of Political Practices. If WTP’s motion for summary judgment is granted, the Commissioner would be required to drop all complaints against the group, allow corporations to make in-kind contributions to candidates in Montana, and strike down Montana’s “political committee” and campaign “expenditure” statutes as unconstitutional.  Further, if granted, WTP’s constitutional claims would strike down laws and regulations, such as the incidental political committee requirement, that have been infringing for years on the rights of Montanans to engage in political speech and association without having to register and report those activities to the State of Montana.

The filing, made in Helena's First Judicial District Court, asks Judge Jeffrey Sherlock to dismiss with prejudice a Political Practices complaint filed in 2008 by an environmentalist activist and subsequent COPP decision WTP, and a complaint filed in 2010 by an unsuccessful candidate for legislature from Billings.  As part of its suit, WTP also requests that Judge Sherlock invalidate that portion of Montana law that prohibits corporations from making in-kind political contributions.

In the conclusion of its briefing, WTP states that free speech and association guarantees have their fullest and most urgent application during the conduct of campaigns for political office.  WTP asserts that the laws and regulations challenged in the case and sought to be enforced against them by the State of Montana “impose impermissible burdens on Plaintiffs’ speech and association activities”, and states that the “Court has the right and duty to knock down unconstitutional overreaching by the State of Montana and its agents”.

"Our filings show Attorney General Bullock and Political Practices attempted to chill every Montanans' First Amendment rights by applying unconstitutional 'political committee' requirements and electioneering restrictions to a citizens' group that does not meet the United States Supreme Court’s definition of those activities,” said WTP Executive Director Donald Ferguson.  "We ask the court to order these politically-motivated and defamatory complaints be dropped and that Bullock and Political Practices be prohibited from continuing to apply unconstitutional laws and regulations to WTP and to every other Montanan who engages in protected political speech."

“Our only issue in filing this case is to promote good, and constitutionally-permissible government. WTP’s mission is to promote good environmental policy,” said Ferguson.

"Additionally, we ask the court follow a recent federal ruling protecting the First Amendment right of employers to make campaign contributions," said Ferguson.

 Two issues are at play here.

First, in Oct. 2010 WTP won a resounding victory against Bullock and Political Practices after the pair announced they would defy the U.S. Supreme Court's "Citizens United" ruling allowing employers to engage in uncoordinated independent expenditures.   WTP sought to overturn state prohibition on uncoordinated political expenditures by corporations.  Bullock argued the case personally and his defeat was reported nationally.  This case has since been appealed to the Montana Supreme Court.

Three days after WTP won the political speech case against the State of Montana and just days before the 2010 election, the Commissioner of Political Practices released a "finding" accusing WTP of wrongdoing relating to a two-year-old complaint about speech by a different organization.  After making a long string of false and defamatory accusations, which Political Practices openly admitted they had no evidence to back up, the office announced they would sanction the WTP for not registering as a political committee, despite the fact WTP did not engage in the speech in question and meets none of the United States Supreme Court’s definitions of a political committee.

WTP has always followed all applicable laws.  Political Practices' attempt to force a non-electioneering group to register and report as an electioneering group is a clearly unconstitutional attempt to chill WTP's First Amendment rights.

Under well-established constitutional jurisprudence, the State of Montana can only regulate those organizations whose major purpose is the defeat or election of clearly identified candidate or candidates for public office.  WTP only keeps its members and the public informed encourages the passage or defeat of legislation and does not advocate for or against the election of candidates.  In their filing Political Practices refused, contrary to what Montana law and regulation expressly require, to state what type of committee WTP was so it could insist WTP adhere to "political committee" regulations.

In addition to the 2008 complaint, WTP asks Judge Sherlock to have a frivolous complaint filed by a losing 2010 candidate dismissed as well.

Second, Montana's ban on in-kind by incorporated associations is vaguely written, which chills the free speech rights of corporations by leaving permissible forms of political speech that are not express advocacy nonetheless open to prosecution.

WTP asks Judge Sherlock to overturn Montana's ban on in-kind corporate campaign contributions, citing the risk of prosecution for non-express advocacy speech because of the state's vague requirement and the 2010 "Citizens United" federal court and a May 2011 Virginia federal court ruling finding political speech by incorporated associations do not pose a threat to the integrity of the electoral process.  WTP also argues Montana's ban on in-kind expenditures by corporations violates the Fourteenth Amendment by singling out corporate speech as the one type of political speech that cannot be made in Montana.   

The argument follows a May 27 ruling by a Virginia federal judge (U.S. v Danielczyk) finding an outright ban on corporate contributions to federal candidates is unconstitutional because it regulates political speech based on nothing more than the identity of the "speaker.”  Numerous other states already allow contributions from corporations.

Additionally, WTP's filing also asks Judge Sherlock to invalidate the requirement organizations such as WTP include electioneering disclosure statements ("Paid for by") on its materials.  Those requirements are only constitutional if they are applied to political committees.  WTP is not a political committee, does not electioneer, does not seek to influence elections and the requirement is unconstitutionally vague, posing a threat of prosecution for legally-permissible speech.

Among the plaintiffs in the case are Western Tradition Partnership, Montana Citizens for Right to Work and the Sweet Grass Council for Community Integrity.  Defendants include Bullock and Political Practices Commissioner David Gallik.

WTP does not advocate the election or defeat of candidates.  Supported by grassroots members, largely in Montana, WTP is a fast-growing non-profit organization dedicated to fighting environmental extremism and promoting private property and responsible development and management of land, water, and natural resources.

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MSNBC: LBJ was never elected president

Just days after relentlessly mocking, heckling and attacking former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin for an account of Paul Revere's ride, MSNBC reports Lyndon Johnson never won a presidential election

Not only did he win one, he won it with 61% of the popular vote and 486 electoral votes. 

With that grasp the world around them, no wonder they think Obamanomics is working.

Bachmann: I’d abolish the job-killing EPA

Congresswoman Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.,) speaking in the Jun. 13 Republican presidential debate in Manchester, New Hampshire:
“Well, the United States federal government and the states have done numerous job training programs over the year with mixed results.  This is what we need to do to turn job creation around and bring manufacturing back to the United States…
“…Every time the liberals get into office, they pass an omnibus bill of big spending projects.  What we need to do is pass the mother of all repeal bills, but it’s the repeal bill that will get a job killing regulations.  And I would begin with the EPA, because there is no other agency like the EPA.  It should really be renamed the job-killing organization of America .
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Greens get crazier: Now pushing animal sacrifice to save Mother Earth

Wiping out animals to save the Earth?  That’s what environmentalism has finally devolved into.

Once again we must ask, who will save the Earth, from environmentalists?

The Washington Times‘ editorial board writes:
Saving the baby seals was once the signature cause of environmentalism. The global-warming crowd used the image of an unhappy polar bear “stranded” on a small iceberg to rally support for their cause. Concern for animal rights is now being kicked to the curb in Australia. In order to save the planet, animals must die. It’s all part of a “carbon-farming initiative” designed to help the land Down Under meet its so-called greenhouse-gas emission targets under the Kyoto Treaty…
…“The scheme covers reductions in emissions from savannah burning,” a summary of the current legislation explained. It also covers “animal emissions avoidance projects such as camel reduction.”…
…The deserts of the Australian outback are home to the world’s largest population of camels, so slaughtering these defenseless creatures has become a sanctioned activity. As ruminants, camels emit a great deal of methane. In greenhouse-gas terms, four camels do the same annual damage to the ecosystem as one Toyota Prius. These impious emissions would come to an end as an eco-friendly helicopter rains fire upon 600 to 750 camels each day. At current prices, that would bring a daily bounty of $11,000 in carbon credits.
Get the whole story at The Washington Times.

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Greens use Endangered Species Act to whack jobs, jack up gas prices

The Wall Street Journal reports this morning on a story American Tradition Partnership has been monitoring — a callous push to declare the common dunes sagebrush lizard to be an “endangered species” in order to shut down oil and gas drilling in across New Mexico and west Texas, which would achieve their stated goal of eradicating jobs and driving up the price of energy.
The Journal reports this morning:
“This is the most prolific oil-producing region in onshore America,” said Ben Shepperd, president of the Permian Basin Petroleum Association, an industry group in Midland, Texas. “If you are to knock out a big portion of that, it clearly would drive prices up at the gasoline pump.”…
…Politicians suggest dire consequences if the lizard is subject to the Endangered Species Act. In New Mexico, Republican Gov. Susana Martinez warned Fish and Wildlife officials in a May letter that “the future of our state’s economy and livelihood of so many employers and hardworking New Mexicans are at stake….
Get the whole story at The Wall Street Journal.

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Washington Times: GM’s gas-tax fraud

The Washington Times‘ editorial board continues to hit home runs with a series of editorials exposing the Gang Green agenda.
EDITORIAL: GM’s gas-tax fraud
Ripping off motorists is key to the leftist agenda
Government Motors has become yet another mouthpiece for the Obama administration. General Motors Co. CEO Dan Akerson told the Detroit News Saturday that he wants a $1 per gallon hike in the gas tax. Consumers already facing nearly $4 a gallon prices at the pump aren’t going to be pleased to see that figure jump overnight to $5, but the left and its crony capitalist allies don’t care what the public thinks.
Mr. Akerson wants to use the power of government to make buying a Chevy Volt, GM’s entry into the electric car market, more economically attractive. Such marketplace intervention is apparently needed because a mere 481 Volts were purchased last month, despite government subsidies and incentives worth thousands of dollars. By comparison, Ford sold 42,399 unsubsidized F-series pickup trucks over the same period. That’s almost one big gas-guzzler every minute…
Read the full editorial at The Washington Times website.

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Washington Times: John Bryson, job destroyer

Another in a series of hard-hitting, truth-exposing editorials by The Washington TimesRead the full editorial at their web site.
EDITORIAL: John Bryson, job destroyer
Radical environmentalist is the wrong choice for commerce post
…The selection of this particular leftist for a business-outreach post is rallying the opposition. “I find Mr Bryson unacceptable as secretary of commerce for the United States, and I will work in opposition to his conformation,” said Sen. John Barrasso, vice chairman of the Republican Conference, to The Washington Times.
Mr. Bryson co-founded the Natural Resources Defense Council, a radical outfit that relies on lawsuits and activist courts to advance an anti-industrial agenda. Mr. Bryson even used his time as chairman and CEO of Edison International to advocate government coercion to address so-called “global warming.” A member of the United Nations Secretary-General’s Advisory Group on Energy and Climate Change, Mr. Bryson told a conference in 2009 that it’s “incredibly important” that the United States “comes forth in this year with federal climate change legislation.”
Nominating an advocate for schemes that massively raise prices for struggling consumers and small businesses makes little sense in this economy. “It’s just wrong to put somebody in charge of the Commerce Department who called the Waxman-Markey cap-and-trade bill ‘moderate but acceptable’ and said that cap-and-trade was a good way to hide a carbon tax,” Mr. Barrasso told The Washington Times. “We need a pro-growth business leader who can make American businesses more innovative at home and more competitive abroad.”…
…Given the opposition, Mr. Obama ought to look for someone with a track record of creating jobs, not someone whose claim to fame is building an organization dedicated to destroying them.
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Washington Times exposes ‘peak renewables’ as ‘green energy’ collapses

The Washington Times editorial board does it again.  Their latest in a series exposing the real agenda of environmentalism, and the harm and damage the environmentalist agenda inflicts, focuses on the impending collapse of the “green energy” hoax.

Read the full editorial for yourself at The Washington Times’ website.
EDITORIAL: Peak renewables
Real energy pipelines are a better bet than green pipe dreams
The “peak oil” scare has long been used as an excuse for alternative-energy providers to demand government subsidies. We are told that oil production will reach a zenith and the wells will run dry any day now, so failure to provide billions in handouts to the providers of other fuels would be irresponsible. Forget peak oil – the world may be on the verge of peak renewables. 
The much-hyped intermittent energy sources such as solar and wind have proved so expensive to maintain that other developed nations are trimming subsidies. The push-back appeared in United Nations climate-change talks that began last week in Bonn, jeopardizing the green dream of an annual $100 billion slush fund for global alternative-energy projects.
Rifts between rich and poor nations grew as some countries balked at the idea of renewing the Kyoto Protocol, the 1997 agreement that calls for reducing carbon-dioxide emissions by transitioning away from fossil fuels toward energy without CO2, the harmless, odorless gas essential to life on this planet….
…The International Energy Agency recently reported record levels of CO2 emissions in 2010, but climate scientists say global temperatures have not risen in a decade, casting doubt on the assertion of a direct link between so-called greenhouse gases and supposed global warming. Consequently, wealthy countries struggling with a global economic slowdown are starting to view renewable energy as a financial black hole, raising the prospect that the endless well of subsidies required to prop up inefficient technologies will run dry long before nature’s supply of black gold….
Read the full editorial for yourself at The Washington Times’ website.

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