Montana Sportsmen Alliance

  Sportsmen for Liberals

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At a Glance

Purporting to represent the interests of the large population of Montana hunters, the Montana Sportsmen’s Alliance (MSA) instead serves the ideology of a small group of Democratic activists and environmentalists. Despite an outsized presence in regulatory and legislative comments, MSA appears loosely organized and financially tiny.

About MSA:

  • It has attacked the NRA and Montana Shooting Sports Association.
  • It’s unclear if the group has more than a handful of members.
  • It doesn't represent Montana sportsmen.

The Montana Sportsmen's Alliance—registered with the state as a “Public Benefit Corporation without Members”—does not appear to file federal Form 990 nonprofit tax returns, as they are not available on public sites that compile these returns. Its political action committee (PAC), which it shares with the Headwaters Sportsman Association (another thinly documented purported sportsmen group run by a Democratic operative also tied to MSA) made no expenditures on political candidates in 2014.

Background

MSA claims to have been organized in response to legislative efforts in the 2011 Montana legislative session. The group, along with other Montana environmentalist/sportsmen groups like the Montana Wildlife Federation, opposed certain bills affecting public lands management.

For the 2014 state legislative elections, MSA proper — not the PAC — released a list of candidates that it endorsed. This is interesting as 501(c)(3) organizations — which a MSA PAC filing claimed MSA was as recently as December 2013 — are forbidden to engage in electoral politicking. In 2017, MSA endorsed Democrat Rob Quist in the state’s special election for a Congressional seat.

Ties to Democrats

Vito Quatraro, a real estate agent who is a leader and the registered agent of MSA, is an activist in Montana Democratic Party politics. When Franke Wilmer, a liberal Democratic State Representative, ran for the Montana Senate in 2014, Quatraro served as her campaign committee treasurer. Quatraro also heads the Headwaters Sportsman Association, another faux-sportsmen group with little presence. The Headwaters group received a grant of $5,400 from the Western Conservation Foundation, a liberal environmentalist group that has funded numerous national and state-level left-sportsman groups.

Other members of the MSA “Leadership Group” also show strong affinities for the Democratic Party. JW Westman’s Facebook postings include multiple rants against Republican then-Rep. Steve Daines and House Speaker John Boehner. Joe Perry wrote in support of Democratic state-house candidate Janet Ellis (who also received an MSA endorsement). John Borgreen was named to Democratic U.S. Senator Jon Tester’s “Sportsmen’s Advisory Panel” in response to his close work with the Montana Wildlife Federation.

Of MSA’s endorsements for the 2014 legislative elections, 92% went to Democrats (including Quatraro’s candidate, Wilmer). Of the two Republicans the group endorsed, both ran to the left in their primary elections with one unseating a GOP incumbent. Additionally, the Montana Sportsmen Alliance was one of the first groups to formally endorse the substitute Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate in 2014, Amanda Curtis. Curtis made a name for herself as a far-left activist with ties to the effectively Communist labor group Industrial Workers of the World.

Associations

MSA’s website was designed and is maintained by Kathryn QannaYahu. QannaYahu is a member of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers, a Green Decoy, and the Public Land/Water Access Association, an anti-property rights environmental group.

In the legislature, you’ll find MSA opposing pro-hunting bills alongside radical environmentalists. In a recent session, MSA joined Defenders of Wildlife (pro-wolf reintroduction) and the radical Natural Resources Defense Council in opposing a bill that would have set seasons for predator hunting.

Dr. “No”

In the same session, MSA took a position on 42 bills—opposing 38 of them. The bills that MSA opposed including reforms on non-resident hunter licenses, creating an apprentice hunter certificate, and reforming wildlife management.

37 of the 38 bills MSA opposed were sponsored by Republicans—which raises the question of whether MSA is putting partisan politics ahead of a pro-hunting agenda.

False Testimony

Joe Perry of MSA further tarnished the group’s credentials when he provided false testimony in the 2017 session. Perry was advocating for a bill to change the law regarding Outfitter Assistants. He claimed, “There’s been absolutely no research into any abuses that might be occurring on the use of Outfitter Assistant.”

The only problem is that doesn’t appear to be true. The executive officer with Montana Department of Labor & Industry rebutted Perry’s claim in a letter following Perry’s testimony. He wrote, “The executive officer forwarded three complaints to the compliance unit for investigation of possible violation of board rule or state law based on the review of each Outfitter Assistant form in 2016. 96% of Outfitter Assistant forms were in compliance with board rule and state law in 2016. There are no customer-generated complaints currently on file with the board from the 2016 season to my knowledge.”

Attack on NRA

Ironically, MSA sent out an email accusing the NRA and MSSA of being partisan and questioning their grades of a state lawmaker: “Do not buy into the letters to the editor about her grades from NRA and Montana Shooting Sports Association (MSSA). They are both very conservative organizations that rarely would ever support a Democrat over a Republican. It is interesting to note that Franke voted for the Hunter Apprentice Bill both in Committee and on the House floor. This bill was supported heavily by MSSA and NRA and yet they give her a poor grade. Shows that they are more interested in the individual’s political designation than how they actually vote.”

Or is it MSA that’s more interested in promoting Democrats and criticizing others—even if it’s pro-gun and pro-hunting organizations?

Who Exactly Does MSA Represent?

It’s curious to see MSA take a swipe at the NRA (noted above), a pro-hunting group with millions of members. In 2013, a representative of MSA was asked about the group’s membership when he testified before a state House committee. The MSA representative admitted he didn’t know of the number, saying, “We don’t charge dues. We don’t give out membership cards.” The best he could point to was an email list of undeclared size. MSA’s “Who We Are” webpage only lists 7 people, indicating MSA is the opposite of the silent majority—a loud minority.

Address

5205 Eclipse Drive
Bozeman, MT 59715

Personnel

Vito Quatraro, Past Leader & Registered Agent

JW Westman, Founder

Joe Perry, Founder

John Borgreen, Founder

Robert Wood, Founder

Sam Milodragovich, Founder

Steve Schindler

Jeff Herbert