Remember “American/Western Tradition Partnership” Involved in Montana Elections in Case that Went to SCOTUS? Looks Like the National Right to Work Committee Was Secretly Behind It, Violating Montana Campaign Finance Laws

Montana Free Press:

Thousands of newly uncovered documents and recently filed court records bolster already mounting evidence tying the anti-union National Right to Work Committee to the political activities of conservative nonprofit groups accused of improperly coordinating Republican legislative primary campaigns in Montana.

Emails, documents and affidavits recently obtained by Montana’s commissioner of political practices paint a detailed picture of how the national anti-union group oversaw the activities of American Tradition Partnership, the group at the center of allegations of illegal third-party influence in Montana Republican primary campaigns in 2008, 2010 and 2012.

The National Right to Work Committee is a 501©4 “social welfare” group that, according to the IRS, is not supposed to engage in “direct or indirect participation or intervention in political campaigns on behalf of or in opposition to any candidate for public office.”

Tens of thousands of pages of emails obtained by Montana Commissioner of Political Practices Jonathan Motl show a link between top NRTWC officials and political campaign activities in Montana.

A former NRTWC employee said in a sworn affidavit filed in Helena District Court that NRTWC staff members were relocated to Montana to work on the 2010 primary campaign, and their work was overseen by the political director of the national organization, Dimitri Kesari. Emails provided to Motl show that National Right to Work Executive Director Jedd Coburn was in regular communication with the groups doing political work in Montana and provided text for candidates’ campaign materials.

Motl said this latest trove of information is significant because it proves ATP was not acting as an independent issue advocacy organization, as the group claimed, but was instead part of a massive, coordinated campaign machine funded by an out-of state organization with the goal of changing the makeup of the Montana Legislature.

“Christian LeFer was here as a field operative for National Right to Work. Once you get there, then National Right to Work’s central role is more apparent,” Motl said. “I don’t think you can underestimate the significance, or the threat, that a coordinated, funded, centralized corporate-take-over of candidates poses (to elections).”

Motl said that in 2008, when Western Tradition Partnership first entered the scene in Montana, and in 2010 when the group changed its name to American Tradition Partnership, most people, including a previous commissioner of political practices, believed the group was an independent entity.

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