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Bullock led “dark money” group launches fake newspaper

A national progressive organization, with ties to a Democratic Party-aligned super PAC led by  former Governor Steve Bullock, has unveiled a new news outlet in Montana, just ahead of the state’s pivotal elections, notably the contest for Democratic U.S. Sen. Jon Tester’s seat.

An individual overseeing editorial operations for the nonprofit American Independent Foundation, confirmed to Montana media outlets that this initiative is part of a broader strategy, with similar outlets in battleground states like Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin, all under the American Independent banner.

The Montana Independent, both online and in print editions, resembles traditional Montana news outlets on the surface. However, the majority of its writers are establishedl libeal political operatives  from outside the state, with few exceptions. Notably, one such exception is Richard Manning, a former Missoulian reporter and author.

Manning is married to Democrat operative Tracey Stone-Manning.

Funding for the American Independent comes from a foundation whose officers have connections to American Bridge 21st Century, a Democratic-aligned political action committee. Former Montana Governor Steve Bullock, a Democrat, co-chairs this PAC.

While the American Independent’s stories do not overtly endorse candidates, they often highlight Republicans in a negative light and present Democrats in a favorable manner.

The Washington Post previously reported on the synergy between American Independent and American Bridge, highlighting their efforts to tailor messaging to specific voter demographics.

The lack of transparency regarding donations to these organizations raises concerns about the influence of undisclosed “dark money” in politics, a subject with which Montana has a contentious history.

Bullock, once a champion of campaign finance transparency, now co-chairs a PAC that receives funds from such opaque sources, reflecting the complex realities of modern political financing.

In response to criticisms of dark money’s role, Bullock acknowledges the challenges of unilateral disarmament but advocates for a more transparent political landscape.

By: Montana Newsroom staff


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