Bogus Montana Sportsmen Groups Trying To Throw 2012 Elections!
Editorial News/Press Release July 25, 2012 Do Questionable Sportsmen Groups Serve As Political Fronts?
As 501(c)(3) non-profit organizations, the National Wildlife Federation and its Montana chapter, the Montana Wildlife Federation, are prohibited by federal law from endorsing political candidates. That may very well be, but to many Montana residents it sure seems that these two non-
profit organizations have indirectly gotten up to their noses in this state's politics.
Missoula resident Land Tawney is a staff member of both organizations. He serves as the Senior Manager for Sportsmen Leadership (Northern Rockies and Prairies Regional Center) with the National Wildlife Federation, while at the same time working as the Regional Organizer for the Montana Wildlife Federation. He is also the president of another somewhat spurious organization known as Montana Hunters and Anglers, which has been engaged in some serious political mudslinging in its attack on Congressman Denny Rehberg (R) (Photo Above Left), who is opposing current Montana Senator Jon Tester (D) for his seat in the U.S. Senate.
Montana Hunters and Anglers enjoys 501(c)( 4) non-profit status, which does permit the organization to become involved in political campaigns. Still, the question arises, "Have the National Wildlife Federation and the Montana Wildlife Federation violated their non-profit status by condoning Tawney's forming of the new organization, which vehemently attacks Montana's 2012 Republican senate candidate."
An official IRS directive states..." Under the Internal Revenue Code, all section 501
(3) organizations are absolutely prohibited from directly or indirectly participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office. The prohibition applies to all campaigns including campaigns at the federal, state and local level. Violation of this prohibition may result in denial or revocation of tax-exempt status and the imposition of certain excise taxes."
As should be expected, Rehberg's campaign office has responded on its website, stating, "An environmental obstructionist front group calling itself 'Montana Hunters and Anglers' has spent nearly $250,000 from undisclosed sources running attack ads against Denny Rehberg. Leading that effort was the group's President, Land Tawney, whom Tester also proudly declares to be an adviser to him in his official Senate duties. Tawney is an employee of the National Wildlife Federation."
Earlier this year, Ben Lamb, the Conservation Director for the Montana Wildlife Federation (until March 2012), led a conference call to tout attack ads against Denny Rehberg. Lamb had previously been appointed to Tester's Montana Sportsmen's Advisory Panel, joining fellow MWF staffer Land Tawney, who also sits on the Montana Sportsmen for Obama Committee. Another member of that committee just happens to be Montana State Senator Kendall Van Dyke - who also serves as the Secretary for Montana Hunters and Anglers.
According to the Federal Election Commission, as of this month, under the auspices of the Montana Hunters and Anglers Leadership Fund, more than $363,000 have been spent on ads to attack Denny Rehberg. Many Montanan's are now asking where that money is coming from, but as a 501(c)(4) non-profit organization, the group does not have to divulge its sources for that funding - and Montana Hunter and Anglers refuses to share just who is footing the bill for the efforts to discredit Rehberg. And that has many believing that the funding is coming from the same radical anti-hunting environmental groups which have fought to stop wolf control hunts.
More recently, another new sportsmen's organization has joined in the political mudslinging. This group calls itself the Montana Sportsmen Alliance. Their website claims the group is the "Voice of Reason on Montana Fish and Wildlife Issues" and that through this organization "Sportsmen have gathered together to support the philosophy and programs we subscribe to."
Many Montana sportsmen feel this is just another phony sportsmen group serving as a front for the Montana Wildlife Federation, and to further the agenda of the National Wildlife Federation. While these two organizations have loudly touted their efforts to open land access for sportsmen, their overzealous support of expanded wolf and grizzly bear range, and now expanded bison range, is now closing more access than opening doors. Both the Montana Wildlife Federation and the National Wildlife Federation claim to be pro-sportsman. But are they really?
(Photo Above Right - Much of Montana is publicly owned and shared land. In its zest to expand the ranges of the wolf and grizzly bear, the Montana Wildlife Federation has been a major proponent for closing off access into many areas.)
Gary Marbut, President of the Montana Shooting Sports Association, says, "The Montana Wildlife Federation once showed its true colors when its lobbyist testified before the Legislature IN FAVOR of a bill to give county commissioners the authority to ban the discharge of firearms in any or all parts of counties."
Many of those involved in the launch of the Montana Sportsmen Alliance have long been affiliated with the Montana Wildlife Federation. In Land Tawney's case, it and the National Wildlife Federation as well.
Mac Minard, currently serving as Executive Director of the Montana Outfitters and Guides Association, is a 30-year veteran professional wildlife manager, and as a sportsman his entire life he personally feels that, although they claim to have a following, they have no membership role and they have no means of electing leadership. As such, they are self-appointed, and generally represent a group of like minded folks who place partisan politics over true conservation.
Outfitter Paul Ellis, of Sunday Creek Outfitters, says the group is made up of about 30 members, according to what he has heard from sportsmen who managed to attend a few meetings. He says, "These are the same core members of the Montana Wildlife Federation, Public Land and Water Access, Sportsmen for Obama, and Montana Hunters and Anglers."
Minard points out that this is a very closed group. He attended the first organizational meeting of MSA and was surprised to see many of the I-161 advocates (to eliminate set aside outfitter big game licenses), including Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Commissioners Ron Moody and Dan Vermillion, along with former FWP director Jeff Hagener, and Land Tawney, plus others sharing similar political views. Shortly after this meeting, the group's self-appointed leader, Vito Quatraro, called Minard and told him he was not welcomed to attend future meetings. Others were excluded as well.
"I guess as a Montana sportsman my voice does not count with this group. I have never seen or heard of such a thing. They clearly want to drive a wedge between sportsmen in an effort to jam their agenda through. No input except from those with whom they agree," states Minard.
Gary Marbut, of the Montana Shooting Sports Association, shares, "Montana Hunters and Anglers is totally missing from the Montana landscape for all periods except during election season, when it is trotted out as a paper name to offer political cover to anti-gun and anti-
hunting political candidates."
Quatraro played a major role in I-161, which eliminated thousands of big game tags set aside for non-resident hunters who book hunts with a licensed outfitter. He and others now with Montana Sportsmen Alliance claimed that by allowing outfitters to lease up large ranches, resident hunters were shut out of private property. According to most hunters and outfitters, the passing of I-161 has not opened those lands, but rather drove angered private landowners to close even more land to the public.
Ellis says that Quatraro does not practice what he preaches, claiming, "I know for fact that Vito has and is continuing to lease up a ranch for his and his partner`s exclusive hunting."
Vito Quatraro is a Bozeman real estate agent who deals in recreational properties.
Mac Minard says, "Many of the regulatory actions and policies supported by this self-
appointed group of sportsmen advocates have resulted in a massive decline in non-resident interest in Montana which has led to the financial collapse of FWP and Block Management - and a very real decrease in private lands available for public hunting."
Montana Hunters and Anglers and Montana Sportsmen Alliance are basically one and the same -
and due to their influence with the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Commission, these two political fronts for the Montana Wildlife Federation have worked hard to make Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks pretty much a gutless, do-nothing wildlife agency when it comes to controlling predator impact. One has to keep in mind that one of the agendas of the National Wildlife Federation has been to see expanded predator populations, which means expanded predator impact on big game numbers - and fewer hunting opportunities for resident and non-resident hunters.
From where do you think the Montana Wildlife Federation gets its directives?
One of the hot issues that is heating up the upcoming election in November even more has been the ever growing number of wolves in Montana - and a state wildlife agency that has not been aggressive enough to alleviate the excessive losses of elk, moose, deer and other big game to wolf depredation. One 2012 gubernatorial candidate, Robert Fanning (Photo At Left), points the finger of blame right at Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer... and at the State's Attorney General, Steve Bullock.
Now, Bullock wants to be the Governor of Montana.
Fanning emphatically states, "Allegiance is a duty of fidelity said to be owed by a subject or a citizen to his/her state or sovereign. Bullock showed his loyalty is only to trial lawyers , not the people, consumers, private property... or civil, natural, and constitutional rights, customs , culture or heritage of the people of Montana. Why ? Because Governor Schweitzer got massive amounts of campaign cash from out of state U.N. certified Agenda 21 Marxist Progressive Watermelon NGO's. "
Are these the same financial backers for the mudslinging advertorials being run by the Montana Hunters and Anglers Leadership Fund?
Bob Fanning points out that not once in Bullock's term as Attorney General of the State of Montana has he shown his face or in any way, shape or form, asserted his influence or argued in behalf of Montana's sportsmen, game herds and livestock producers - all the while knowing that the radical left's lawyers were stalling so wolf populations could grow at a 30% rate and disperse. Bullock knows that the easiest thing to do in litigation is stall. Fanning says Bullock aided and abetted those extremist lawyers as they milked the Equal Access to Justice Act for legal fees, by turning his back on wolf related litigation.
Many are now wondering if Bullock will follow in Schweitzer's do nothing footsteps. Some are wondering why he isn't investigating the illegal, or at least unscrupulous, political activities of the Montana Wildlife Federation, Montana Hunters and Anglers or the Montana Sportsmen Alliance. Unless pressured to make a comment, he totally avoids addressing the wolf issue, even though a very high percentage of Montana's residents now consider the impact wolves have made on wildlife resources and ranching to be the greatest disaster in their lifetimes. Nowhere on Bullock's website will you find even a hint of how, as Governor, he would dramatically reduce wolf numbers to where these apex predators could be controlled. As Attorney General, he has basically done nothing.
His Republican opponent, former U.S. Congressman Rick Hill (Photo At Right), on the other hand has a very detailed wolf management plan right on his campaign website. His plan is very simple. The State of Montana would be divided into two zones. The Western side of the state would become a "Wolf Aggressive Management Zone" to bring wolf populations down dramatically, and to the East of a determined line would become a "Wolf No Tolerance Zone" to prevent wolves from spreading into the Eastern side of the state. Hill's plan would do far more to reduce the wolf population than anything MT FWP has tried in the past or has planned for the future. East of the "No Tolerance" line, under this gubernatorial candidate's plan, the wolf would be treated as a predator, not as big game, and could be shot on sight at any time on any day of the year - by anyone.
This likely does not set well with the two very questionable sportsmen organizations which are now covertly providing political cover for the Montana Wildlife Federation. It's probably only a matter of time before they begin to attack Rick Hill.
Fortunately, the true sportsmen of Montana are far from being as dumb as Land Tawney, Ben Lamb and Vito Quatraro apparently think them to be. It's easy to see through their ruse, and to realize that their only goal is to drive a wedge between honest sportsmen, in an attempt to destroy the political strength of this body of voters.
Their misdirected agendas have already backfired on them, and they are playing right into the hands of the anti-hunting movement. Mac Minard said it best, "Anti-hunters love the fact that these self-proclaimed sportsmen are doing their work for them." - Toby Bridges, LOBO WATCH