E-mail Story   Print Story
  Comments (0) Total Friday Apr. 18, 2014
 
American Tradition Partnership Consultant Says ‘Frontline’ Documents are Stolen
Documents are in possession of state officials
HELENA – A consultant to a conservative group attacking Montana's campaign laws is seeking the return of documents he says were stolen and are now in the possession of the state commissioner of political practices.

The documents are featured in a "Frontline" documentary airing Tuesday and a story by "Frontline" and ProPublica that suggest the tax-exempt social welfare group American Tradition Partnership illegally coordinated with Republican candidates.

American Tradition Partnership consultant Christian LeFer, of Livingston, said the documents were in his car when it was stolen in Denver two years ago, Lee Newspapers State Bureau reported. He planned to file a court request for their return.

"If the documents are released to the news media or the public, their content will cause irreparable harm to LeFer's business, in that proprietary information about the workings of his business will be revealed," his attorney, Quentin Rhoades of Missoula, wrote to Commissioner of Political Practices Jim Murry.

Murry was not available for comment Tuesday. Commissioner of Political Practices Program Supervisor Mary Baker said Tuesday her office was no longer releasing the documents to the public.

She denied an Associated Press request to inspect the documents.

"It's tied up in litigation and there apparently is a little conflicting information as to whose records they are," Baker said. "They're potentially involved in a criminal case."

The documents have not been used in any investigation and have sat untouched for more than a year in the agency's basement, she said.

American Tradition Partnership led a successful lawsuit to overturn Montana's 100-year-old ban on corporate spending in elections, a decision that was before the U.S. Supreme Court earlier this year.

The organization also is leading a separate lawsuit attempting to throw out the state's campaign contribution limits, which has led to turmoil in the governor's race over a disputed $500,000 donation to Republican candidate Rick Hill.

ATP also has sued the state over a previous finding by the commissioner's office that the organization engages in campaign advocacy and must disclose its donors and expenses.

ATP says it is a nonprofit, nonpartisan educational organization that does not advocate for or against candidates, and, therefore, it doesn't have to reveal its financial backers.

The "Frontline" and ProPublica story said the documents included files on 23 conservative candidates in Montana state races, with surveys, mailers apparently paid for by the candidates, fliers and bank records.

The story said the documents had been found in a Denver home reputed to be a "meth house." It is not immediately clear how they came into the possession of the commissioner of political practices.

ATP Executive Director Donald Ferguson denounced the "Frontline" report and said the group "always has and always will obey every applicable law."
 
No comments have been posted for this article.

  • LETTER: Campaign Litter
    James Conner said: "Durational limits on political signs are unconstitutional. If Flathead County’s current ordinance on durational limits were challenged in court, it would be struck down. See…
  • Obama: 8 Million Signed Up for Health Care
    bopho said: "Gators - You should let everybody know that the article you refer to in the WSJ is an opinion piece and not a news article…
  • Obama: 8 Million Signed Up for Health Care
    iceman said: "The really scary part of this is the fact that this is unfunded. It is proppped up with iou’s. They did nothing to attack the…
  • Job Hunting in Lincoln County
    montanaeasy56 said: "Oh, for a return to the good old days. Back in the day, democrats owned Lincoln County politics. Even known republicans ran as democrats to…
  • Obama: 8 Million Signed Up for Health Care
    Gators said: "WSJ Article today 4/18.  Sweden, has socialize medicine.  The article stated the avg. family pays $20,000 to cover this so called free system.  Almost everything…
 
Kellyn Brown
Kellyn Brown5h
@kellynbrown
"If we made decisions on permits this way in MT, our economy would grind to a halt" @GovernorBullock on #KeystoneXL delay
Dillon Tabish
Dillon Tabish2h
@djtabish
Montana leaders sound off on Keystone XL delay http://t.co/H1Z6oRtfis #mtnews #mtpol
Molly Priddy
Molly Priddy2h
@mollypriddy
@natashavc @TaraAriano @allyzay Oh no, I've been thinking it's a room for all your types of mustards. Recalibrating my ideas now.
Tristan Scott
Tristan Scott16 Apr
@tristanscott
Your Survival Guide To Coachella http://t.co/hlyov5FZjv via @IamJessicaLima http://t.co/0b5csXZiN8
Flathead Beacon
FB Headlines3h
@flatheadbeacon
Baucus Casts Wide Shadow Over Montana Senate Race http://t.co/KATSG942LL