Water Compact Battle Heats Up as Complaint Filed Against Tribe

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by Ron Catlett, MediaTrackers

A Flathead County Republican leader, Jayson Peters, has filed a 68-page complaint with the Montana Commissioner of Political Practices against the Confederated Salish & Kootenai Tribes (CSKT) and a Washington, D.C. based public affairs firm over their activities lobbying for the CSKT Tribal Water Compact during the current legislative session.

The complaint alleges that the CSKT and the lobbying firm Mercury Public Affairs failed to disclose the full amount of money spent lobbying for the compact. The complaint also states that CSKT and Mercury formed a pro-compact 501(c)4 group called Farmers and Ranchers for Montana (FARM) to raise grassroots support for the compact legislation (SB 262). However, FARM did not register with COPP as a lobbying principal, nor did it’s primary spokesperson — Shelby DeMars — register as a lobbyist for the group.

“CSKT, Mercury, DeMars, and FARM have chosen to use Dark Money and skirt Montana lobbying laws to hide the full amount of funds to lobby the Montana legislature and other public officials,” states the complaint. “This is a breach of the public trust and open government.”

The complaint contains what are purported to be minutes from June 2014 tribal council meetings. According to the minutes, the tribal council voted on June 3 to allocate $600,000 for a “Water Rights Budget.” On June 26th the complaint alleges that the council then agreed to pay Mercury $200,000 for the services of lobbyist Mark Baker to work on behalf of the compact legislation.

The complaint states that this money should have been reported to COPP.

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Source:  MediaTrackers

Irrigation system near Emerald, PEI by microbe, on Flickr
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