MT Legislature: Dark Money

Tailored suits, chauffeured cars
Fine hotels and big cigars
Up for grabs, all for a price
Moneytalks by AC/DC

The Montana Legislature has been must-watch entertainment for the past few weeks, and we’re getting to a time in the 90-day session where the rubber meets the road. Members are a little tense and cranky. It’s a circus!

There are several reports from newspapers across the state today about the so-called “dark money” bill (Senate Bill 289) that was brought before a House committee yesterday. The Associated Press, Lee Newspapers, Great Falls Tribune, and the Bozeman Daily Chronicle all admirably covered the hearing.

With this much coverage, even Vice President Joe Biden would say “This is a big ^&%$% deal!”

In my opinion, the articles showed us that it is mostly conservative-leaning groups who were against the bill. Shame on them.

I’ve read SB 289 several times. I like it. If I were a legislator, I would vote for it. It’s not perfect, but it is a start.

Montanans deserve to know who is spending the money to defeat or promote a candidate. This is 2015, not 1940. The reporting of who donated for or against a candidate or issue should be super simple these days. The reporting of donations should be within 24 hours.

I don’t sweat the limits on donations that much as long as we can quickly see who is donating.

The Montana Family Foundation is against the bill. They even threatened to file a lawsuit.

Frankly, I have been disappointed in the Montana Family Foundation and their President Jeff Laszloffy this session. Laszloffy spoke out against the bill saying he’s worried a church would have to disclose tithes when the church goes out to advocate a position on a ballot referendum. On their website, the Foundation told members “We urge Montana families to contact the House Business and Labor Committee and ask them to oppose this terrible bill that could make public everyone’s tithes to their church.”

The argument presented by the Foundation is as old as time: Scare people with some issue that may not happen and give them a far-fetched reason why it may happen. Then tell them to contact someone to keep it from happening.

All that was missing was the line, “Please send your most generous contribution to help us spread this message.”

The Foundation used the example of a pastor speaking about a marriage being between a man and a woman and, “BAM” if you attend that church then your tithe checks are going to be published on the internet for all to see what 10% means to you!

Telling folks that churches might have to disclose who is tithing if the bill is passed in the Montana Legislature is a stretch (although this tactic might encourage people to tithe more).

Relax fellow Christians – I tithe and I’m not worried at all about it.

We need more accountability and more transparency in politics. The Montana Family Foundation should be leading the way. They should not be using the threat of lawsuits to try and derail more transparency.

 

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