Votes in Montana elections need to be earned, not bought

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Guest Opinion By Penny Ronning
Sunday, July 31, 2022
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I’m not a millionaire and neither are 95% of Montanans.

My campaign isn’t funded by millionaires, but instead, our contributions have come from hardworking Montanans who are putting their money on the line to create real change in our state. I’m proud to say the majority of our donations are small dollar donations. For example, between July 20th and July 26th, 2022, our average individual donation was $64.19.

I believe in campaign finance reform and believe most Montanans and most Americans do also. I believe most people are, like me, tired of elections costing millions of dollars when children and hardworking families are going hungry because there’s not enough money to put food on the table.

As Americans, we need to hold campaigns, elected officials, and political parties accountable for the insane amount of money being raised and spent getting individuals elected. We also need to stop glorifying the ridiculous amount of money being raised by campaigns. Campaigns cost money, true, but campaigns should be about earning votes, not buying votes.

How do we hold campaigns accountable? Begin by researching where the campaign donations are coming from. This will give you the clearest knowledge of who the candidate is beholden to and most strongly plans to represent.

For example, over the years, Matt Rosendale has collected nearly $10 million in contributions for his various campaigns.

In 2014, in his unsuccessful bid for Congress, Rosendale loaned himself $1.1 million and raised thousands of dollars from donors outside Montana.

In 2018, in his unsuccessful bid for the U.S. Senate, Rosendale loaned his campaign more than $150,000, and approximately 85% of his $5.2 million in receipts came from contributions outside Montana, PACs and other political committees.

And during his 2020 campaign for the U.S. House of Representatives, over 70% of his $3.4 million in receipts came from contributions outside Montana, PACs and other political committees. Again, that year he loaned his campaign nearly $100,000.

Now, for his 2022 campaign, he has banked almost $1.6 million in receipts. Again, almost 70% of those funds come from contributions outside Montana, PACs and other political committees. So, who are these Kingmak

So, who are these Kingmakers from outside Montana supporting Rosendale? They are individuals and extremist political action committees (PACs) who funnel cash into candidates like Rosendale in hopes of securing votes for their extremist agendas.

What did his 2020 donors get in return? They got a vote against supporting Ukraine. They got a vote against honoring the brave Capitol Police. They got a vote against badly needed investment in Montana’s infrastructure and broadband. They got a vote against protecting older workers against discrimination. They got a vote against the right to organize in the workplace. They got a vote against conservation and preservation of wildlife. They got a vote against protection for nursing mothers in the workplace. They got a vote against stopping corporate price gouging at the gas pump. They got a vote against funding to end the baby formula shortage. They got a vote against funding to feed hungry children.

What did Montanans get? Nothing.

We should all be asking questions about Matt Rosendale’s campaign funding and his representation of Montana.

I’m angry that hardworking Montanans are represented by someone who is obviously beholden to out-of-state interest groups, and I’m angry that millionaires can lend themselves hundreds of thousands and even millions of dollars to buy a seat in Congress.

In Montana, elections used to be about earning votes, and this is what they need to be about again.

Montanans are desperate for lower prices at the gas pump, access to affordable healthcare, safe roads and bridges, cheaper costs at the grocery store, affordable housing and education, protection for hunters to access healthy public lands, a fair market price for family farmers and ranchers and so much more.

What we are willing to tolerate, we will not change. Millionaires are willing to tolerate a lot because they don’t feel the financial stress the majority of working Montanans do.

Montanans ended the reign of the Copper Kings before. It’s time to do it again.

It’s time for change. It’s time for hardworking Montanans to be represented by one of their own. It’s time for Montanans to be represented by someone who actually reflects the majority of Montanans. It’s time for Montanans to be represented by someone beholden to hardworking Montanans and not elitists and out-of-state, extremist PACs, and, it’s time for Montana to send two women to Congress.

Penny Ronning is the Democratic candidate for U.S. Congress in Montana’s Eastern District, MT-02. She can be reached at campaign@ pennyronning.com.

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