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MT: Steve Bullock — Anti-corporate crusader, corporate money-taker

By   /   August 29, 2012  /   No Comments

Attorney General Steve Bullock, a Democrat, wants to serve as Montana’s next governor.

By Dustin Hurst | Watchdog.org

HELENA – Attorney General Steve Bullock wants voters to believe he’s a noble crusader fighting corporate interests that influence Montana elections.

Except he’s not.

Sure, Bullock, the Democrat hoping to succeed Brian Schweitzer in the governor’s mansion, launched a legal challenge to the 2010 Citizen’s United U.S. Supreme Court case, a move he said would keep corporations from spending freely on Montana elections.

While Bullock, running opposite Republican Rick Hill, might have staged that challenge in the court room, in his campaign back room he counts donations from the same corporations he so publicly decries.

In his latest television ad, Bullock highlights his attorney general stint, touting his fight on public access issues and online child-protection efforts. But the Democrat’s line about pushing back against corporate interests is most striking and helps the candidate close the commercial.

“… And I fought to make sure our elections are decided by Montanans, not out-of-state corporate interests,” Bullock says in the spot. “As governor, I’ll put Montanans first.”

A scan of his campaign finance documents tells another story. In fact, it’s highly possible corporate money helped fund the anti-corporate ad.

Several out-of-state corporate Super PACs — notably those of Georgia-based construction retailer Home Depot, multinational conglomerate 3M of Minnesota and Amgen, a drug-maker rooted in Thousand Oaks, Calif. — have donated to the Bullock campaign in the past year.

Home Depot, with several locations around the Treasure State, racked up $1.5 billion in profit in 2012’s second quarter. 3M, which produces myriad products, earned $1.2 billion in profit through the same period. Amgen posted a $1.27 billion second-quarter profit.

North Carolina-based drug maker GlaxoSmithKline’s super PAC has contributed to Bullock’s campaign, donating $1,550 since Aug. 18, 2011.

Of course, Bullock’s publicly aggressive stance against out-of-state corporate cash fiddling with Montana elections speaks nothing of his acceptance of union dollars coming from beyond Treasure State borders.

A number of labor unions have funded Bullock’s rise to the top of the Democratic ticket. The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, based in Washington, D.C., pushed $630 Bullock’s way earlier this year.

Triangle, Va.-based United Iron Workers pitched in $500 to the Democrat’s campaign, and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees gave $630. AFSCME, like IBEW, calls Washington, D.C., home.

On the ideological spectrum, U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold’s Progressives United PAC gave Bullock $630.

Feingold and his PAC hail from Wisconsin.

To be clear, Bullock’s anti-Citizen’s United case wouldn’t have altered state law regarding contributions from corporations directly to candidates, an outlawed practice.

Instead, he contended the state shouldn’t allow corporations to spend endlessly on independent expenditures such as radio and television ads. Bullock believed the 2010 ruling had little to do with Montana’s 1912 Corrupt Practices Act, the state measure banning outside corporate spending.

The U.S. Supreme Court felt differently, in late June upholding the Citizen’s United case within Montana borders, thereby allowing unions and corporations to push tons of cash to independent expenditures.

Bullock’s campaign did not return a call for comment.

Contact: Dustin@Watchdog.org or @DustinHurst on Twitter.

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Dustin is the Social Media Coordinator for Watchdog.org and a staff writer for Northwest Watchdog. He specializes in finding government waste, reporting on elections and innovating new media strategies.