Montana Hunters and Anglers

  A Front for Dark Liberal Money

Funders

  • Anti-Energy Icon
    Anti-Energy
  • Big Labor Icon
    Big Labor
  • Green Radicals Icon
    Green Radicals

At a Glance

Led by liberal activist Land Tawney, Montana Hunters and Anglers claims to represent sportsmen. In reality, the organization is a front for left-wing environmentalists who want to package their activism and lobbying in camouflage.

Funding

“Green Decoy” group Backcountry Hunters and Anglers, led by pro-Obama activist Land Tawney, has been active in Montana. Montana BHA chapter leader Greg Munther writes that his group is “an all-volunteer grassroots hunter and fisherman organization,” but he leaves out a crucial fact that BHA gets most of its money from a handful of out-of-Montana liberal groups.

Similarly, it’s important to note where the Tawney-led Montana Hunters and Anglers gets its money.

In 2012, MHA received $140,000 from the D.C.-based Citizens for Strength & Security Fund, an affiliate of a liberal political group that spent $7.2 million in the 2010 election cycle. (In 2012, the Fund was pushing for tax credits for wind power.) Citizens for Strength & Security Fund is part of a dark money web that spent $50 million on political ads in 2009 and 2010—and the group’s listed address was a UPS Store in downtown Washington, D.C.

The same year, MHA received $13,000 from the League of Conservation Voters, a D.C.-based environmental lobby group. Meanwhile, LCV gave $410,000 to the MHA Leadership Fund in 2012. MHA Leadership Fund also received $25,000 from liberal California moneyman Stephen Silberstein.

The League of Conservation Voters publicly denied, however, funding the ad campaign asking Montanans to vote for the third-party candidate. The funding for that $500,000 campaign, then, appears to have come from a different liberal, D.C.-based group.

MHA Leadership Fund received $632,000 in 2012 from the America Votes Action Fund, a super PAC. The America Votes Action Fund received hundreds of thousands from labor unions—and the LCV.

Meanwhile, America Votes—the (c)(4) affiliate of American Votes Action Fund—gave $650,000 in 2012 and 2013 to Bull Moose Sportsmen, a Colorado-based “Green Decoy” group.

All in all, the MHA Leadership Fund spent $1.2 million attacking Denny Rehberg, a Republican U.S. Senate candidate in 2012 running against Democratic incumbent Jon Tester in 2012, including half a million dollars on a TV ad supporting a third-party candidate as a way to syphon votes away from the Republican candidate.

ProPublica summed up MHA’s dark money scheme:

Even though super PACs have to report their donors, the Montana Hunters and Anglers super PAC functioned almost like a dark money group. Records show its major donors included an environmentalist group that didn’t report its donors and two super PACs that in turn raised the bulk of their money from the environmentalist group, other dark money groups and unions.

Agenda

Montana Hunters and Anglers is a web of groups aimed at electing Democrats in Montana, utilizing liberal money from California and Washington, D.C.

There’s Backcountry Hunters and Anglers Montana Chapter, a local affiliate of Backcountry Hunters and Anglers. Then there’s Montana Hunters and Anglers PAC, a state political action committee. Then there’s Montana Hunters and Anglers Leadership Fund, a federal political action committee funded by environmentalists. And then there’s Montana Hunters and Anglers Action!, a 501(c)(4) organization.

Whatever form it takes, Montana Hunters and Anglers exists to push an environmentalist agenda—in particular, banning the development of energy on public lands under the guise that it would hurt hunting or fishing opportunities.

MHA Leadership Fund worked with the Montana Conservation Voters and the League of Conservation Voters—two radical environmental groups—to defeat Rehberg. Major MCV donors include the Wyss Foundation, run by a Swiss billionaire, and the Tides Foundation, a San Francisco outfit that operates more like a liberal laundering operation than philanthropy.

Tawney and MHA attacked Rehberg for sponsoring a border security bill that would allow Border Patrol agents to access land near the Canadian border. “It effectively gives federal bureaucrats complete control over millions of acres of public land,” Tawney complained.

Yet Tawney objects to returning federal lands to state control. Why? It would likely be harder to stop states from allowing other stakeholders to use public land for energy development—something that is anathema to Tawney and MHA’s financial backers.

People

MHA Action’s leadership has included:

  • Land Tawney, a liberal activist and former regional representative of the National Wildlife Federation. He is a co-founder of Hellgate Hunters and Anglers. Tawney was a member of Sportsmen for Obama.
  • Kendall Van Dyk, a Democratic state senator. Ironically, Van Dyk has criticized conservative dark-money groups while being involved in a liberal one. Van Dyk has also been tied to Hilltop Public Solutions, a liberal consulting firm that has represented abortion and labor groups and that has been investigated by the Montana Commissioner of Political Practices. Van Dyk was also a member of Sportsmen for Obama.
  • Barrett Kaiser, a former top advisor to Democratic U.S. Senator Max Baucus and consultant to Democratic Senator Jon Tester who helped organize a fly-fishing trip for President Obama. Kaiser has personally given $20,000 to liberal candidates, according to FEC data.
  • Beau Wright, a Democratic activist.
  • George Cooper, former president of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, another “Green Decoy” group claiming to represent sportsmen that takes millions from Big Labor and San Francisco environmental foundations. He is senior VP at a heavily Democratic communications firm.

Address

PO Box 2215,
Billings, MT 59103

Personnel

Land Tawney, Leader

Kendall Van Dyk, Leader

Barrett Kaiser, Leader

Beau Wright, Leader

George Cooper, Leader