Usually you don’t see national dark money groups showing up in local school elections in Montana, but it has now happened here in the Great Falls School Election. Early this week voters in Great Falls received a text message from Free to Learn Action, a national right-wing organization.
The Freedom to Learn Action text is poorly researched and violates Montana campaign law. Specifically, there is no disclaimer identifying who paid for the piece as required in Montana statutes. It also identifies the “party registration” of each of the candidates for school board. The problem is that voters do not register by party in Montana, and the school board election is a non-partisan race. Put simply, there is no way Freedom to Learn Action knows the party affiliation of the candidates. Finally, the piece identifies candidate Tony Rosalles as a Democrat. While Montana doesn’t register by party, Tony Rosalles is the head of the local Libertarian Party. It is pretty unlikely that he considers himself a Democrat.
ProPublica reports that Freedom to Learn is a national right-wing group which says that its mission is to “advocate for classrooms independent of political influence” (https://freetolearn.org/mission). The organization is headed up by Allison Liegh Marre, who has a long history of right-wing activism. She worked on Republican Scott Walker’s 2014 run for Governor in Wisconsin. She worked for the National Republican Congressional Committee and was the national press secretary for the National Republican Senatorial Committee. She also worked for the Air Force during the Trump Administration. (https://projects.propublica.org/trump-town/staffers/allison-leigh-marre)
You might be wondering why a national right-wing group would be showing up in a Great Falls Montana school board election. Aside from the fact that the entire right-wing power structure hates public schools. Well. . . probably because Montana’s US Senate race is going to be the biggest race in the US Senate in 2024. National groups want to establish a “Montana track record” to attract more money for their coffers. We note with interest that US Senator Steve Daines is now the Chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, where Marre used to be the National Press Secretary. It’s going to be a long election season.