More campaign finance hypocrisy from Sen. Jon Tester….

Good afternoon, folks—

As you may have noticed, Senator Jon Tester has been trying awfully hard to turn reporters’ and voters’ attention away from big issues like jobs and the economy, and focus this race instead on campaign finance.  Tester and his team have been expending a great deal of time and effort decrying “unaccountable” outside spending and influence in Montana’s U.S. Senate race — in op-eds, campaign emails, interviews, and a substantial internet ad campaign…

While it’s no surprise that Tester would prefer to talk about anything other than his record of 95 percent support for President Barack Obama’s unpopular agenda in Washington, it’s worth pointing out that even on this issue of his own choosingcampaign finance — Tester’s credibility is strained at best, because his words and deeds don’t even come close to matching up…

The most recent example of Tester’s campaign finance hypocrisy is that, while he decries the influence of third-party ads run by PACs, Tester is actively soliciting that same type of support from liberal PACs, and he’s even doing it through the news media.  As Roll Call reports today:

…[M]any House and Senate candidates who publicly decry super PACs are benefiting from the outside groups that back them… “Montana is a state that takes great pride in transparency in government, and this just goes against that,” said Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.)… Rehberg’s campaign countered that Tester’s allies, including labor, environmental and women’s groups, have spent more than $1 million in the race. Rehberg proposed that he and Tester refund all donations from political action committees and lobbyists and raise money only in Montana. Tester, who relies heavily on lobbyist donations, said that would leave him no way to respond to third-party attacks. But he also told Roll Call that he would welcome outside spenders who backed him: “I’m hoping that there are some PACs out there that will support me.”

Meanwhile, even Tester’s own campaign is having a tough time making sense of his hypocritical posture on this issue.  Just look at the rhetorical gymnastics Tester’s campaign is forced to go through in this interview with the Havre Daily News just days ago.  Note how, when confronted with inconvenient facts, Tester’s campaign is forced to awkwardly try to pick and choose between which anonymously-funded third-party ads are acceptable or not, while at the same time struggling to defend Tester’s own corporate allies in the banking industry running ads on his behalf:

Rehberg’s campaign responds by calling [Tester's web ads attacking third-party spending] “hypocritical,” saying Tester has benefited with more than $1 million in spending by third-party groups, and citing an offer Rehberg made for both candidates to return all out-of-state money contributed to their campaigns… Tester’s campaign spokesman Aaron Murphy said this morning that he disputes those figures, and that he believes the Rehberg campaign is including every advertisement that mentions Tester or Rehberg, rather than looking at television ads that specifically attack or support their candidacy… Background information provided by Bond said part of the hypocrisy is Tester benefiting from more than $330,000 in advertising by the Electronic Payments Coalition, “rewarding Tester for carrying their swipe fee legislation in the Senate. ”  Murphy said ads from a banking organization thanking Tester for helping their cause does not compare to Crossroads GPS or the U. S. Chamber running attack ads against him.

It’s remarkable to see Team Tester struggle to make any sense at all on what they seem to believe is a good issue for them…

As a reminder, this all comes just weeks after Tester hypocritically rejected Denny Rehberg’s offer to remove all outside spending and influence from Montana’s U.S. Senate race, because Tester refuses to part with the huge sum of money he has taken from lobbyists and out-of-state special interests.  In fact, even as he continues to decry special interests, Tester has taken more lobbyist campaign cash during this election cycle than any of the other 534 members of Congress.  Hypocritically, Tester ran for Senate in 2006 on a promise that he would provide Montana with representation “not encumbered by high-dollared lobbyists,” and promised, “I won’t sell Montana down the road by cutting deals with K Street lobbyists.”  Sadly, Tester has falsely denied his #1 lobbyist money ranking before, so linked here is a non-partisan report establishing that fact, just in case you need to remind him of the truth…

An investigative report published just days ago by Politico helps shed some light on how Tester became the #1 recipient of lobbyist campaign cash in Congress, as the publication pulled back the curtain on a pattern of unethical strong-arm fundraising tactics by Senator Tester’s lobbyist allies and the Baucus “operation” on Tester’s behalf.  New York Magazine is calling the tactics part of “a political bribery transaction.”

Given the facts, it would be understandable for reporters and the public to be left scratching their heads, asking themselves — what does it say about Senator Tester’s re-election campaign when he’s not even particularly credible on the issue he and his team are attempting to make the focus of this race?

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Chris Bond
Communications Director
Montanans for Rehberg
cbond@dennyrehberg.com
406-852-3113

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Gannett newspaper and information center serving Great Falls and Montana.

One Response to More campaign finance hypocrisy from Sen. Jon Tester….

  1. Pingback: Tuesday Potpourri « The Western Word

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