Feb 10, 2012 6:44 PM by Marnee Banks (Helena)
U.S. Representative Denny Rehberg (R-MT) and U.S. Senator Jon Tester (D-MT) are continuing to throw political punches over campaign finances as they battle for Tester's seat in the Senate.
Earlier this week Tester sent a letter to Rehberg asking him reject all third-party radio and television ads.
He asked Rehberg to sign an agreement which states any ad funded by a third-party that mentions either candidate shall result in a penalty for the other candidate's campaign, payable to a designated charity.
On Friday, Rehberg rejected the agreement and offered his own.
Rehberg campaign manager Erik Iverson said, "This pledge is truly a 'Made in Montana' pledge. It says the money spent in this Senate race must be money that comes from Montana. If it's outside money it cannot be in this race."
The agreement would require both candidates to return all out of state money including lobbying money and money from political action committees.
It would also penalize the candidate financially if a third-party ran an advertisement for them.
Tester campaign manager Preston Elliott replied: "Jon is reviewing Congressman Rehberg's response, which reads like the attack ads we're trying to keep out of this race. The bottom line is that he rejected Jon's simple proposal to give Montanans the transparency and accountability they deserve."
As we did with Tester's challenge earlier this week, we are posting the full text of Rehberg's challenge:
February 10, 2012
Dear Senator Tester:
I am pleased that you agree with me that Montana deserves a clean election. It is heartening to read that, at least this time around, you profess to want to "reject efforts by outside groups to undermine Montana's tradition of elections decided by the people."
The last time around - your 2006 election - liberal outside groups spent $3,710,819 backing you. In fact, your outside allies outspent all opposing outside groups by a 3-to-1 margin. You, Montanans no doubt recall, did not object to this spending when it benefitted you in 2006. Additionally, so far this election cycle outside groups have spent nearly $1 million in advertisements in support of your campaign.
Consequently, because your concern is so newfound, you will understand if Montanans are rightly skeptical about its authenticity. After all, it's only been days since President Obama reversed himself and began asking for a flood of liberal corporate SuperPAC money to go to his campaign.
It would be easy for Montanans to figure you simply calculated that since more liberal third party money is going to President Obama's campaign there will be less going to yours, and that your nascent concern is really a self-serving political ploy. It would be hard to blame them for coming to that conclusion, given your track record of hypocrisy.
You see, Montanans also remember your repeated, specific, and unequivocal expressions of righteous indignation over the influence of "D.C. lobbyists" and "K Street" while you were campaigning in 2006. And they have seen your actions: you are now the number one recipient of lobbyist contributions in the entire United States Congress this election cycle.
On these matters, you have either not meant what you said, or you have not said what you meant. But Montanans want results, not excuses, and the good news is we can work together to bring them some. I have attached an agreement, The Made in Montana Pledge. It is simple, tough, and it will do good. It will make our state proud, and set an example for the nation for how to deal with outside money.
Here's what it includes:
? Imposes strict penalties on our campaigns for any third party spending in our race;
? Requires us to immediately refund any contributions received so far from lobbyists and PACs; and
? Requires us to refund any contributions received so far from any contributor who is not a Montana resident. It also limits our acceptance of any future contribution to our campaigns to Montana contributors only and prohibits
our campaigns from accepting future contributions from PACs, lobbyists and out-of-state individual contributors.
In short, my Made in Montana Pledge truly makes this a campaign by and about Montanans and will guarantee an election free from out-of-state money and outside influences. I'm willing to take you at your word that you are serious about "steering this campaign toward Montana's values of honesty, accountability, and transparency." I am hopeful that your word is good, and that you sign The Made in Montana Pledge.