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Blogs / Influence

Dark Money and the Meth House

October 29, 2012
What do a Montana outside spending group, a meth house and the Supreme Court have to do with one another?

Well, a box of mysterious documents found inside of a Colorado meth house suggest possible illegal coordination between an outside spending group -- Western Tradition Partnership -- and candidates' 2008 and 2010 campaigns for state offices, Frontline and ProPublica report.

WTP has since changed its name to American Tradition Partnership, and successfully challenged a Montana law that placed caps on corporate and union political donations. The Supreme Court ruled in favor of the group and declined to revisit the 2010 Citizens United case, dismissing the notion that the court's 2010 federal ruling didn't apply to states.

Montana Commissioner of Political Practices' investigator Julie Steab first received the box of documents, and she concluded that WTP was running a number of state campaigns. ATP executive director Donny Ferguson denied that the group broke any law or that endorsed specific candidates.

OK, but what about this meth house business? Mark Siebel, a convicted felon "said he stumbled on [the documents] inside a known meth house near Denver at some point in late 2010," Frontline and ProPublica report. From the story:

It's not clear how they got there. Siebel said a friend found them in a stolen car. After reading through some of the documents, he reached out to people he thought might be interested in them -- primarily Colorado candidates attacked by Western Tradition Partnership. A lawyer married to one of the candidates shipped the boxes off to Montana investigators.

By that time, however, the Montana probe into the group's activities in the 2008 election was over. Steab also said that there was no way to determine for certain where the documents were from and who owned them. There was no whistleblower, and no information about how the records ended up in Colorado.

Read the entire report here.
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