Earlier this week, we talked about the tenuous connections between American Tradition Partnership and another mysterious nonprofit, the 501(c)(4) Taxpayers for Liberty. Trade unions sent a letter to Taxpayers for Liberty last month accusing it of trademark infringement, after the nonprofit had circulated political attack mailers in the late hours of the 2012 election using various union logos without permission. Now it seems the connections between Taxpayers for Liberty and American Tradition Partnership are firming up. ProPublica and PBS's Frontline just posted a collection of checks to and from ATP dating back to 2010, shedding unprecedented light on where the controversy-engulfed ATP gets its money.
Among the checks made out to Western Tradition Partnership—ATP's former moniker—in 2010 is a $1,000 donation from Lisa Perry, the community affairs manager for PPL Montana. According to the memo, the donation was made for the purpose of covering a "lobbying expense." Other donors include Whitefish's Flathead Timber, the Montana and Wyoming Oil Company, former Republican state Sen. Bruce Tutvedt of Kalispell, the Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce PAC, and the official 2010 campaign of Republican state house candidate Dan Kennedy. One of the last checks included in the six-batch collection is a $4,000 contribution to WTP from—you guessed it—Taxpayers for Liberty executive director Andrew O'Neill.
The money trail doesn't end there. A separate collection of checks written by WTP between 2008 and 2010, posted earlier this week by Frontline's Emma Schwartz, reveals a series of payments to O'Neill totaling $1,750. For example, WTP cut a $500 check to O'Neill on Dec. 29, 2009; the memo simply reads "website." A year later, WTP paid O'Neill $100 for "consulting." WTP sent O'Neill another check, which lists no date, in the amount of $750 with "petty cash" written in the memo space. O'Neill's name and phone number—the same Montana number listed on Taxpayers for Liberty's 2009 IRS files—also appear scribbled on the side of a check made out to the MSU Bookstore by ATP in September 2010 for $970.
ProPublica and Frontline uploaded literally hundreds of pages of account transactions from WTP, documents that Montana District Court Judge Jeffrey Sherlock ordered the release of last week. We're combing through them, and will be back with more periodically. But here's one final gem: That donation from Tutvedt to WTP in 2010? It must not have been big enough. The group targeted Tutvedt with attack mailers in the 2012 Republican primaries up in the Flathead. So did Taxpayers for Liberty.