So-called "dark money" has benefited liberal and progressive causes by a factor of nearly 10 to one over conservative causes and candidates over the last two years.

So says Carl Graham, President of the Sutherland Coalition for Self-Government in the West. Graham says the non-partisan website Follow the Money dot org. confirms the numbers.

"While I believe people should be able to spend whatever they want to support the candidates and causes they believe in, what really offends me is the hypocrisy," Graham said. "In Montana at least, when you look at the independent expenditures, which is what is generally considered to be the dark money, liberal causes outspent conservative causes and candidates by an order of magnitude of 10 to one, so it's realy quite hypocritical of them to criticize the very practice that they're really doing quite better than conservatives."

Graham quotes the numbers provided by Follow the Money dot org.

"I found that liberal causes and candidates received nearly $4.2 million over that 2012 cycle, and on conservative candidates and causes, the number was about $400,000," Graham said. "I was really shocked to see the numbers so plainly. There's this idea that the left in Montana is some bedraggled group of folks that are just barely getting by, as compared to conservatives. That's the reason why we released that website MT Legacy Takers dot org which shows the connections, not just funding, but personnel and organization, and the connections between all these groups and individuals within the state. It's a well-oiled machine, and I kind of envy it."

Graham said most of the big money for progressives comes from large foundations.

"They pump millions and millions of dollars into state organizations like the teachers and public employee unions, the Montana Environmental Information Center, the Northern Plains Resource Council, and many others. the money goes through them out to the various smaller local organizations," Graham said. "My fear is, is that people who are supporting these small local groups and thinking they represent their values, would be disappointed to find out just what causes they really support."

Graham encourages people from both sides of the political aisle to look into the matter for themselves.

"Just go to Follow the Money dot org, as well as the site we just created called MT Legacy Takers dot org, and it shows the coordination between these groups," Graham said. "We shouldn't be so concerned how much money is being spent on political speech, but rather on the real agendas and motives behind the people who are spending it."

Carl Graham, President of the Sutherland Coalition for Self-Government in the West.

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