Campaign 2012

Jan 30, 2012 7:01 PM by Marnee Banks (Helena)

Tester & Rehberg clash over campaign donations

U.S. Representative Denny Rehberg (R-MT) and U.S. Senator Jon Tester (D-MT) are expected to raise millions of dollars this election cycle and both campaigns are criticizing one another's donors.

So far Tester has raised almost $5 million in his campaign to keep his U.S. Senate seat; current figures for Rehberg have not yet been released.

According to Federal Election Commission campaign reports, one of his biggest donors is the League of Conservation (LCV) voters, with donations totalling more than $250,000.

LCV is an environmental group which Rehberg's campaign spokesman Chris Bond quickly points out opposes the Keystone XL Pipeline.

However, Tester supports the project and says sometimes he has to take positions which some supporters don't agree with.

Rehberg's campaign also criticizes Tester for taking more lobbying money than any other member of Congress.

"If folks in Montana want to know who Senator Tester stands with in Washington, they need only remember that he supports President Obama's liberal agenda 97% of the time and he is the top recipient of campaign cash from both lobbyists and anti-job environmental obstructionists," Bond says.

Tester's spokesman Aaron Murphy says all of Tester's donations are transparent.

"Congressman Rehberg believes corporations have the right to secretly buy Montana's elections. Siding with secret corporate spending is as out of touch as you can get," Murphy says of Rehberg's ties to Citizens United.

Citizens United is the group who sued to give corporations the right to free political speech. It has endorsed Rehberg, contributing $10,000 to his campaign.

Rehberg says he believes in full disclosure. He says every single dollar should be reported on the internet within 24 hours.

However, Rehberg also supports a corporation's right to free political speech.

"About the time we start limiting people's opportunity to have access to free speech I think you are going to continue to run into the same problem that we've had and the Supreme Court is going to say no," Rehberg says.

Tester says the ability for corporations to spend unlimited amounts of cash in elections is dangerous.

"I think it really does upset the applecart on our democracy. We've already seen it. There's already been more than $1 million flow into this state not to educate people on what I've done but to give them bad information about who I'm not," Tester says.

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