‘Conservative Conservationist’ Steve Daines Attacked by Dark Money Green Groups

U.S. Sen. Steve Daines (R-MT) (R) speaks during a news conference in front of the U.S. Capitol March 13, 2018 in Washington, DC. Sen. Daines held a news conference to discuss the Internet sales tax. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Alex Wong/Getty Images

Dark money environmental groups funded by out-of-state and foreign billionaires have attacked “conservative conservationist” Sen. Steve Daines (R-MT) despite his commitment to environmental stewardship.

Sen. Daines has served as one of the leading advocates for fully and permanently funding the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), which serves as part of a bipartisan fund to protect America’s forests, lakes, and national parks.

Daines helped pass cosponsored legislation that would push for full and permanent funding out of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee in November. The senator continues to work to get the bill a floor vote to pass out of Congress’s chamber this year.

The Montana Flathead Beacon profiled Sen. Daines in 2015.The paper called Daines a “Teddy Roosevelt” Republican and a “conservative conservationist” who fights for protecting conservative values and America’s natural beauty at the same time.

Montana Trout Unlimited recently thanked Sen. Daines for his work to secure full and mandatory funding for the LWCF.

Sen. Daines’ support for environmental stewardship does not merely arise from his political beliefs; the Montana conservative is an avid hunter and fisherman.

“Daines is a fifth-generation Montanan and avid outdoorsman. He grew up fishing, hiking, hunting, and truly understands the importance of LWCF,” Katie Schoettler, Sen. Daines’ communications director, told Breitbart News in a statement.

However, despite the senator’s push for more funding for the LWCF, the Montana Conservation Voters (MCV), a dark money leftist environmental advocacy 501(c)(4) organization, has attacked the Montana Republican.

The MCV has frequently attempted to fact check the Montana senator, claiming that Daines has not been a “champion” for permanent and full funding of the LWCF.

The Montana green group put out a television ad in December attacking the senator for only paying “lip service” for funding the LWCF.

The Montana Republican has worked to make significant progress in fully and permanently funding the LWCF when a Democrat-controlled Senate and President Barack Obama failed to make progress on funding the program.

Sen. Daines helped secure a 50 percent increase in funding for the LWCF, which is the highest funding level since 2003. Democrats made little progress on improving the LWCF when they had the majority in the Senate and when Barack Obama was president.

Sen. Daines was also an original cosponsor of the Land and Water Conservation Fund Permanent Funding Act, which would fund the LWCF at a $900 million level.

The Montana Conservation Voters’s attacks on Sen. Daines raise questions about their status as a self-labeled “non-partisan” organization, even though Sen. Jon Tester’s (D-MT) former chief of staff, Aaron Murphy, serves as the organization’s executive director. Ross Prosperi, the MCV’s field director, worked on Sen. Tester’s campaign.

The MCV is not a coalition partner of the LCWF, even though many of their sister organizations such as the Oregon League of Conservation Voters, the Maine Conservation Voters. The MCV’s parent organization, the League of Conservation Voters, is an LWCF coalition partner.

The MCV’s 2019 scorecard frequently champions Democrats and attacks Republicans.

The LCV almost exclusively endorses Democrats over Republicans. The LCV has endorsed Obama and Hillary Clinton for president.

“MCV is a partisan, political group whose apparent sole purpose is to mislead folks about the senator’s commitment to LWCF,” Schoettler said.

Further, the Environmental Policy Alliance (EPA) found that the Montana Conservation Voters receives funding from out-of-state and foreign billionaires to push leftist environmental policies.

Nat Simons, a wealthy environmentalist, runs the Sea Change Foundation and donates to the Energy Foundation, which then distributes money to the MCV. The Sea Change Foundation also gives grant money to the League of Conservation Voters Education Fund, which then provides money to the Montana Conservation Voters Education Fund.

Hungarian billionaire George Soros’ two major foundations, the Open Society Institute and the Open Society Institute Foundation, donate to the Tides Foundation and the Tides Center, which donated to the Montana Conservation Voters Education Fund.

Swiss-born billionaire Hansjorg Wyss has influenced leftist environmental politics even though he has escaped much of the media attention that has been placed on Soros.

Wyss has contributed billions to the Wyss Foundation, the Hansjorg Wyss Foundation, and the Wyss Medical Foundation. The Wyss Foundation has donated at least $387,000 to the Montana Conservation Voters Education Fund.

Schoettler said Sen. Daines will continue to push for greater and permanent LWCF funding despite the MCV’s attacks against him.

She said:

It must be frustrating and sad for them to be forced to promote blatant lies but alas, they continue to push their propaganda. They care more about fighting against Senator Daines than fighting for LWCF. The Senator isn’t going to let politics get in the way of what he believes is best for Montanans including fighting for one of his top priorities – LWCF.

“Daines has the support from real sportsmen groups in Montana and will continue working with them to protect and preserve the program,” Schoettler concluded.

Sean Moran is a congressional reporter for Breitbart News. Follow him on Twitter @SeanMoran3.


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