We’re not big fans of Montana Congressman Matt Rosendale. Rosendale is one of the most extreme far-right people in the US Congress. We’re not going to drag you through the long list of wrongheaded things Rosendale has done to embarrass our state on the national stage. It would take too long to read.
Rosendale is engaged in quite a squabble with the Republican overlords who run the state. They don’t like the fact that Rosendale has been talking about running for the US Senate against Jon Tester. Even though Rosendale has not announced his intentions for the Senate seat, the wizards in the Republican war rooms have been consistently undermining him as a candidate. Instead, they have chosen Tim Sheehy, a Minnesota billionaire based out of Bozeman, as their guy, and they want Matt out of the way.
Still, it was surprising to see anti-Rosendale ads streaming on the Roku channel last week. The ads themselves are not remarkable. Typical of political hit pieces. They use darkened film footage (this one of migrants) and pick some obscure vote of Rosendale’s to attack him as “bad on immigration.”
It is remarkable that Rosendale hasn’t even announced his political intentions and these folks are apparently spending a chunk of change to try to keep him out of the race. More remarkable still is that the ads attack him from the right. We thought there wasn’t any room to the right of Rosendale.
The ads are sponsored by Montana Policy Action, a typical means-nothing name for a political hit group. The Principal Officer for the group is a well-known political gunslinger named Jake Eaton from Billings. That’s probably a good clue to who doesn’t want Rosendale running for US Senate (Ahem, The National Republican Senatorial.Committee and its current Chairman, Steve Daines).
Eaton founded a consulting group called WDRP Management with his wife, Emily Jones, in 2015. He has also been board chair of the 1776 Foundation which makes money by promoting the bright yellow “Don’t Tread on Me” license plates we see across Montana. His campaign experience includes running Gianforte’s campaign for governor and being “Chief Strategist” for the transition team for Attorney General Austin Knudsen. In 2008 he resigned as Chair of the State Republican Party following a scandal involving challenges to 6,000 voter registrations in Democratic leaning counties. https://flatheadbeacon.com/2008/10/15/gop-executive-director-steps-down/
Eaton attracted attention in 2018 when then Secretary of State, Corey Stapleton, gave Eaton’s company a printing contract for $265,000 for a “rush” printing job. Subsequent reporting revealed that Stapleton hired Eaton’s wife, a Billings Attorney, to represent the Secretary of State’s Office in a lawsuit which cost the state $59,000 (She lost the case). Eaton and his wife had contributed $2,000 to Stapleton’s campaign for Secretary of State in 2016. https://www.mtpr.org/montana-news/2018-10-25/second-stapleton-contract-with-political-ally-revealed
In 2022, Attorney General Austin Knudsen entered a contract with Eaton’s wife for $10,000 per month to supervise and provide “mentorship” and litigation services. Despite being a contractor, she was listed in the agency directory as assistant attorney general. https://montanafreepress.org/2023/02/08/ags-office-looks-for-budget-boost-re-inks-contract-with-outside-counsel/
From the Governor’s Office, to the Attorney General, to the Secretary of State, Eaton is a sleazy campaign operator. Now he is setting his sights on Matt Rosendale. Not sure we care who wins this one, but our money is on Rosendale.