My Cautious And Cynical Take On The Mayoral Money Flap: The Hyenas Are Already Barking At Each Other

by Travis Mateer

I’m glad a former Mayor of Missoula is having a six-figure hissy fit because it allows me to better see where the hyenas are. What’s the so-so bad problem that caused Daniel Kemmis to publicly withdraw his support for Mayoral candidate, Mike Nugent? A six figure donation from a national realtor group, that’s what. From the link (emphasis mine):

Following a complaint over six-figure campaign spending in the Missoula mayor’s race, former Missoula Mayor Dan Kemmis retracted his endorsement of candidate and City Councilor Mike Nugent.

“This is a whole new level of intrusion into the local electoral process and it is an extremely dangerous precedent,” Kemmis wrote in a joint statement with fellow former Mayor Mike Kadas. “The real problem, of course, is the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, which opened the sluicegate to floods of this kind of money. Until we can return to sensible campaign finance rules, however, the best way for a community like Missoula to respond is to not support candidates who benefit from this type of large, outside, special interest contribution. Toward that end former Mayor Kemmis is hereby withdrawing his earlier endorsement of Mike Nugent.”

Huh? I’m sorry, I despise the money sloshing around as much as anyone, but what exactly makes this donation rise to a WHOLE NEW LEVEL of intrusion? Especially when you consider Kemmis’ connection to Jim Messina, the slithery tech-guru who helped get Obama reelected, and who really wants to have influence in Missoula.

Later in the article, Jim Messina is himself quoted DEFENDING Nugent by deflecting Kemmis’ criticism to the infamous Citizens United Supreme Court decision (emphasis mine)

Jim Messina, Kemmis’ former campaign manager and Barack Obama’s campaign manager, also stated: “Shouldn’t elections be about the best candidate? It’s the height of arrogance to encourage people to not support Mike Nugent, who clearly is the best candidate, because a group he has no control of and can’t coordinate with, wants to help him. The problem is the Supreme Court, not a candidate. And I will continue to support the best candidate because the future of Missoula is at stake.”

In my own life I consider thinking about the future to be a luxury, since I’m treading water in daily triage mode, so the sentiment I picked up in the article that maybe no one WANTS this six figure sum led me to include the idea of giving it to ME during my LESS THAN 3 minute public comment. Here it is:

That’s right, I provided Council with an update on the Kim Williams urban campers, along with my concern that a supplier of Cannabis is purposefully lacing his product with Fentanyl, leading to three ODs. Then I panhandled my local politicians and reminded them of my TIF fund (link below).

Before making public comment, I had some Democrats sitting and mumbling to themselves to my left. How did I know they were Democrats? Well, because one of the guys had been driving like a fucking idiot in front of me before the meeting began and he had a big MONTANA DEMOCRATS bumper sticker on his car. Are I not a fantastic investigative journalist?

I tried engaging the other one in conversation by asking him if he knew Martin Kidston and OH BOY did I get a fun brush off, which makes his following comment all the more hilarious to me. Who is this Pearson guy? I don’t know, but he consulted for our last Mayor, so that’s really all I need to know about him.

Also, unlike me, this guy DOES NOT understand what 3 minutes means, but in his defense, no one reminded him.

If you don’t want to take the time to listen to this guy speak, let me relate the funniest part: he thanked the MEDIA for breaking this VERY IMPORTANT “news” that a hefty donation beyond candidate Nugent’s control was made.

While I don’t like seeing Messina weigh in on Nugent’s side, I’m less bothered by seeing Tyler Gernant, Nugent’s treasurer, get some quotes in, since he stated his opinion at a Pachyderm meeting that he didn’t think Montana Democrats liked him that much. Does this increase Nugent’s appeal to me? I hate to admit it, but yes, yes it does.

Here’s the nicely nuanced Gernant jab at the two old guys making summer noise against Nugent:

“It’s telling that the two people who issued the statement lived their entire electoral lives before Citizens United,” said Gernant. “If we punish good candidates for things they legally can’t control, we aren’t changing the system, we are just hurting ourselves.”

To get a Kemmis perspective, I chose one of two books I have in my Montana section to get a quote from, and let me apologize ahead of time for its length.

The point I’m making with this excerpt is how many words can be strung together without actually saying anything of substance. This mind-numbing excerpt comes from Chapter 8 of Community and the Politics of Place:

A familiar maxim defines politics as “the art of the possible.” This definition is often invoked to end debates by reminding someone that the proper realm of politics is not the ideal, but the real: the restricted realm of what is, in fact, possible. But referring to politics as the art of the possible might also be a way of invoking the possibilities inhering in the world–a way of drawing attention to what is not, but could be. Robert Kennedy caught the essence of this way of viewing politics with his often-used quote from George Bernard Shaw: “You see things; and you say, “Why?” But I dream things that never were, and I say, “Why not?” Politics as “the art of the possible,” in other words, may mean that “the glass is half empty,” but it may also mean that “the glass is half full.” I do not want to argue that the second sense of the definition should be entirely substituted for the first, but simply that politics should be understood as “the art of the possible” in both of these senses. It is the tension between these two meanings which makes politics interesting–which makes it, indeed, a human enterprise.

Sorry, but I had to do it. Because, like the man who worked for the Tories correctly stated, THE FUTURE OF MISSOULA IS AT STAKE!

Any time I think about Montana Democrats, I think about Hillary Clinton’s Victory Fund, which you can read about from this virtual locale I used to link to a lot, back in the day. If any Montana Democrat is still around from those days, please just go away and DO NOT TALK about money and transparency, because my default position is going to be you’re a hypocrite operator playing some sort of angle.

To get even MORE cynical, I wouldn’t be surprised if this BIG donation wasn’t made to NOT help Nugent, but to actually allow this exact attack from Democrat concern trolls in the first place.

Regardless, there are more pressing issues facing our community than the noise of Hyenas barking at each other, so hopefully this flap doesn’t get more ink from the “helpful” media than necessary.

If you appreciate my counter-perspective, large or small sums of money can be directed at Travis Impact Fund (TIF), or the donation button at my about page.

Thanks for reading!

About Travis Mateer

I'm an artist and citizen journalist living and writing in Montana. You can contact me here: willskink at yahoo dot com
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2 Responses to My Cautious And Cynical Take On The Mayoral Money Flap: The Hyenas Are Already Barking At Each Other

  1. Jay Putman says:

    My initial reaction was that the City Council, especially Mike Nugent, was not going to cut off Mr. Pearson at three minutes, since doing so might give the appearance of showing favoritism towards Mike Nugent ahead of our upcoming mayoral election.
    But then, I wondered why the City Council did not bring up the “decorum” issue earlier on in the comment, since the lowly Missoula citizens should never say anything remotely negative about any City Council member.

  2. John Kevin Hunt says:

    “To get even MORE cynical, I wouldn’t be surprised if this BIG donation wasn’t made to NOT help Nugent, but to actually allow this exact attack from Democrat concern trolls in the first place.” Oh, you’d be surprised. Maybe not stunned, but you’d be surprised. The Realtor group didn’t write a $125K check in order to generate one news story.

    “Concern trolls?” Aren’t you concerned about a $125,000 donation from National Associacion of Realtors to “Missoula Mayor,” a PAC set up by Realtors, in support of a Mayoral candidate who is a Vice President at Berkeshire Hathaway, Warren Buffett’s creation, the gigantic real estate firm that handles very expensive properties bought by very wealthy folks moving here?

    I read that excerpt from Kemmis’ book, and failed to note any unduly long sentence.

    And you seem to have entirely forgotten that a good many of us who were in the Democratic Party fight during Hillary’s run, were fighting for Bernie Sanders at the 2016 Democractic National Convention, where we were unlawfully detained, roughed up, and ejected from the convention by combined forces consisting of Comcast police, Philly cops, and militarized Dept. of Homeland Security police, all of whom were under a unified command with top Clintonites in charge.

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