Well, score another win for the good guys! For the second week in a row, a Federal judge has ruled that part of Montana’s laws governing political campaigns to be unconstitutional. This wasn’t unexpected as we stood in front of the legislature a year ago and told them that the Disclose Act, better known as the Dark Money Bill, was unconstitutional on at least six or seven points.
The point in question this week was a provision that says that if you make any statements regarding an incumbent’s voting record, you must provide evidence supporting your claims. Furthermore, if you point out that an incumbent voted one way on a bill, you must go back through their entire voting record in previous sessions to see if they voted differently on a similar bill. If so, you must publish that as well. We called it the Incumbent Protection Act for a reason. What a nightmare! Can you imagine going back through a legislator’s record looking for similar bills just to discredit your own argument? And what does “similar” mean? And what if you happen to miss one? The penalties are steep, all of which, by design in my opinion, makes it very difficult to hold politicians accountable.
Ironically, this entire scheme was spelled out clearly in a new book called The Confessions of Congressman X. In it, a long-time Democrat member of the U.S. House of Representatives gives us a glimpse into the dark side of Congress. He says that his main job was to “get re-elected at all costs.” And he calls voters an “easily manipulated group of naïve, self-absorbed sheep who crave instant gratification.” No wonder he wrote the book anonymously. But his confession that ties most directly to our topic today is the fact that he said that Congressmen in both parties routinely vote one way on a procedural vote on a bill, then vote the opposite way on a subsequent vote. This allows them to say they voted either for or against the bill, depending on a particular audience.
It reeks to high heavens, and it’s right here in Montana. Or at least, it was, until Judge Dana Christensen put a stop to it. It’s funny how politicians try so hard to make their voting records off limits when it’s their voting records that really matter. We don’t care what they say. We care what they do.
At the Montana Family Foundation, we publish the voting records of all incumbents at the end of each legislative session on bills that are important to our members. In an effort to be fair, we never cherry pick votes. We always take the last vote cast in either House, because that’s the vote of record. Even if we know that a legislator has tried to kill one of our bills at every step in the process, we still give them credit if they vote our way on the very last vote. You can find that score card on our website at montanafamily.org, along with a link to our 2016 voter guide published by our partner, the Montana Values PAC.
Congressman X said that voters are “incredibly ignorant.” That may be true, but it doesn’t have to be. The Montana Family Foundation and other organizations put out enough information for voters to cast informed votes, no matter what their political persuasion. It’s a grand game of hide and seek. Politicians try to hide their voting records, and it’s up to us to seek the truth. Thank you, Judge Christensen, for making finding the truth just a little bit easier.