Thread Rating:
  • 0 Vote(s) - 0 Average
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
American Tradition Partnership aka Western Tradition Partnership

American Tradition Partnership

For the court case, see Western Tradition Partnership, Inc. v. Attorney General of Montana.
American Tradition Partnership (ATP), formerly known as Western Tradition Partnership, is a conservative 501©4 advocacy group in the United States targeting what it describes as "environmental extremism."[SUP][1][/SUP] ATP has also initiated litigation targeting campaign finance regulations.

The organization's mission, in its own words, is a dedication "to fighting environmental extremism and promoting responsible development and management of land, water, and natural resources in the Rocky Mountain West and across the United States." ATP promotes what it describes as voluntary, free-market solutions to environmental problems as the means to protect both the economy and the environment. It works to achieve its organizational goals through lobbying, public education, and grassroots mobilization.[SUP][1][/SUP]
The group was first registered as Western Tradition Partnership as a 501©(4) in 2008.[SUP][2][/SUP][SUP][3][/SUP] In 2009, the group spun off a 501©(3) nonprofit, the Western Tradition Institute, which also does business as the American Tradition Institute.[SUP][2][/SUP]
Donald Ferguson, the former executive director of ATP and manager of their Washington, D.C. office, resigned on January 3, 2013, as it continued to suffer adverse rulings in Montana courts over alleged campaign finance violations.[SUP][4][/SUP][SUP][5][/SUP]


Some prominent issues in which ATP has become involved include:

National monuments

In 2010, WTP filed a Freedom of Information Act request seeking documents related to President Barack Obama's potential use of the Antiquities Act to establish as many as fourteen new national monuments, one of which may include the Vermillion Basin in Colorado, which has significant natural gas and other mineral resources. Republican Congressmen Doug Lamborn and Mike Coffman, both of Colorado, have concurrently introduced legislation to prevent any additional national monuments from being established in their state.[SUP][6][/SUP]

Emissions trading

ATP has strongly opposed legislation creating an emissions trading system in the United States, referring to such proposals as a "cap and tax." An online petition sponsored by ATP states that its position on emissions trading results from skepticism about global warming evidence and fears that such a system would lead to higher energy prices, higher government spending, lost jobs, and other economic costs.[SUP][7][/SUP]

Utility alternative energy regulation

ATP has vehemently opposed Colorado House Bill 1001 which would require public utilities to use alternative energy sources. The group says the proposed law would create job losses and higher utility bills. "The renewable energy standard forces utility companies to buy more expensive utilities, so then they have to cut back on hiring and lay people off," according to ATP executive director Ferguson.[SUP][8][/SUP] American Tradition said the standards were being implemented for the benefit of "politically-connected, higher-priced green' speculators." ATP initially planned to overturn the law via ballot initiative but soon turned away from that effort. The group says it will lobby to have the law changed in 2011.[SUP][9][/SUP]


Montana Commissioner of Political Practices

In 2010, the Montana Commission of Political Practices ruled that ATP had broken state campaign laws by failing to register as a political committee or properly report its donors and spending. The commission investigation's revealed that the group had solicited unlimited contributions to support pro-mining, pro-logging and pro-development candidates in Montana and avoided disclosing the contributions.[SUP][2][/SUP]
The opinion issued by Commissioner Dennis Unsworth in October 2010 followed investigation of a complaint filed in 2008 by an attorney from Great Falls. The complaint accused ATP of not properly disclosing financial information related to fliers it released that criticized a state senator. The opinion examined connections between ATP, a small group of political action committees, candidates for public office, and discrepancies in the campaign finance disclosures.[SUP][10][/SUP][SUP][11][/SUP]
In response, ATF filed suit challenging the ruling. The lawsuit alleged a violation of ATP's federal constitutional right to free speech and a state constitutional right to privacy. The suit demanded that all complaints against ATP be dismissed. Montana Commissioner of Political Practices Dennis Unsworth (who issued the contested ruling), the state attorney general, and prosecutors in Cascade and Lewis and Clark counties were named as defendants in the action.[SUP][10][/SUP][SUP][12][/SUP]
ATP criticized Unsworth for exceeding his authority by including names of organizations and individuals in his ruling without presenting any evidence of wrongdoing on their part. "Indeed, the commissioner's opinion itself finds no evidence of coordination," ATP wrote. "Yet, the opinion drags the names of ATP's counsel, the Republican Party, numerous political candidates, persons associated with different organizations, and lawful businesses into the mix and alleges that there is."[SUP][10][/SUP][SUP][11][/SUP]
John Sinrud, a former Bozeman lawmaker who worked with ATP in 2008, accused Unsworth of using a double standard, saying ATP's behavior was legal and that several union and conservation groups heavily involved in Montana politics used similar tactics. "Commissioner Unsworth is selectively going after organizations that do not meet his political muster," he said. "He should just stick to the facts and that's not what he's doing. He's violated his oath of office of being nonpartisan."[SUP][10][/SUP][SUP][11][/SUP]

Western Tradition Partnership, Inc. v. Attorney General of Montana

Main article: Western Tradition Partnership, Inc. v. Attorney General of Montana
In October 2010, District Judge Jeffrey Sherlock ruled that the Montana Corrupt Practices Act of 1912, which prohibited independent expenditures to influence political campaigns by corporations, is unconstitutional. ATP had challenged the law after the United States Supreme Court's Citizens United ruling.[SUP][13][/SUP] WTP was joined in its suit by Champion Painting and the Montana Shooting Sports Association.[SUP][14][/SUP] Ruling Judge Sherlock said he agreed with U.S. District Judge Paul Magnuson, who overturned a similar ban in Minnesota. Magnuson wrote that Citizens United "is unequivocal: The government may not prohibit independent and indirect corporate expenditures on political speech."[SUP][15][/SUP]
In Western Tradition Partnership, Inc. v. Attorney General of Montana, 2011 MT 328, the Montana Supreme Court ruled 5-2 that the broad protections given to corporations in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission do not apply to Montana's campaign finance laws.[SUP][16][/SUP] The US Supreme Court June 25 summarily reversed the Montana Supreme Court ruling.[SUP][17][/SUP]


In 2009, ATP sued the city of Longmont, Colorado, seeking to prevent enforcement of the Longmont Fair Campaign Practices Act (LFCPA). An injunction suspending enforcement of the regulations was granted in October 2009, after as Senior U.S. District Judge Walker Miller held that ATP and its co-plaintiffs would likely prevail.[SUP][18][/SUP] The LFCPA was revised in 2009 after a 2008 special election where a city council member received a $5,000 contribution from the Longmont Association of Realtors. The 2009 changes mandated that contributors' identities, contribution amounts, and other information must be disclosed in campaign advertisements.[SUP][18][/SUP]
The suit was settled out of court in December 2009 with the town paying the plaintiffs $68,500. As part of the settlement, the city agreed to propose changing the contested portions of the LFCPA, which were subsequently repealed by the city council.[SUP][19][/SUP]


In Western Tradition Partnership, Inc. v. Attorney General of Montana, the Montana Supreme Court concluded that the organization's primary purpose is to allow donors to make unlimited contributions in complete secrecy, though the Office of Political Practices admitted they had no evidence to back up that claim. During the case, Western Tradition Partnership refused to provide information to the court as to its organizations, funding, activities or intent, citing its 501©4 status under federal tax law. The court concluded that the group represents "a threat to the political marketplace" and it has operated in complete disregard of the laws of Montana.[SUP][20][/SUP] That ruling was overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Stolen documents

In 2011, documents allegedly stolen from a car and found in a Colorado meth house revealed the inner workings of WTP/ATC, including possible illegal coordination with Republican candidates. The organization contacted the FBI after Colorado Democrats trafficked the stolen materials across state lines to Montana Democrats. After the FBI was contacted the Montana Commission on Political Practices restricted access to the materials, under which restriction the materials remain "public and reviewable upon request." [SUP][21][/SUP]


External links

"The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways. The point, however, is to change it." Karl Marx

"He would, wouldn't he?" Mandy Rice-Davies. When asked in court whether she knew that Lord Astor had denied having sex with her.

“I think it would be a good idea” Ghandi, when asked about Western Civilisation.
American Tradition Partnership

Western Tradition Partnership (WTP) -- which changed its name in 2010 to American Tradition Partnership (ATP), and spun off the 501©(3) Western Tradition Institute (WTI) -- is a radical anti-environmental organization linked to the law firm of Colorado's now-Secretary of State, Scott Gessler[SUP][1][/SUP],[SUP][2][/SUP].
The group is registered in Denver, Colorado.[SUP][3][/SUP]
[TABLE="class: toc"]
[TD] Contents



WTP/ATP bills itself as "a no-compromise grassroots organization dedicated to fighting the radical environmentalist agenda." The group promotes development of land, water and natural resources in the Rocky Mountain West and throughout the United States. It promotes free-market economics.[SUP][4][/SUP] It says on its website that
Dozens of radical eco-organizations whose stated purpose is to dismantle the free enterprise system and our Constitutionally protected rights through so-called environmental protection have set their sights on robbing Americans of the right to exist, achieve and produce.[SUP][5][/SUP]

One of ATP's founders is former Montana Congressman Ron Marlenee, who served from 1977 until the state dropped from two House seats to one in 1992. Marlenee used his D.C. Rolodex to raise money for the fledgling pro-energy group, which registered in Colorado in 2008.[SUP][6][/SUP]
ATP has joined tea party lobbying efforts, signing at least two letters to Congress in the last year urging an end to an end to tax credits for wind power and natural gas-fueled vehicles. The letters were signed by Koch-funded groups including Americans for Prosperity and tea party boosters FreedomWorks, Club for Growth and Art Pope's John Locke Foundation[SUP][citation needed][/SUP].
In its 2008 application for tax-exempt status as a 501©(4) "social welfare" organization, ATP listed its "primary donor" as Jacob Jabs, Colorado's largest furniture retailer and a donor to Republican candidates and causes. Jabs pledged a $300,000 contribution to get ATP on its feet, according to IRS records obtained by the Center for Public Integrity[SUP][citation needed][/SUP]. Jabs's spokeswoman said he did not make a donation and has "never heard of" ATP or the group's previous incarnation[SUP][citation needed][/SUP]. Jabs also poured money into a failed "right to work" ballot initiative in Colorado, becoming a television spokesman for the 2008 anti-union effort[SUP][citation needed][/SUP].

Meth House Exposé

Pro Publica reported a bonanza of third-party, dark-money coordination with state candidates in Colorado and Montana that were found in a meth house in Colorado.[SUP][7][/SUP] The boxes contained files for 23 candidates for state office. They also held fliers and questionnaires from outside spending groups. Western Tradition Partnership seemed to be pulling the strings, working with campaigns on strategy and surveys.
The documents were filed by Christian LeFer and many of the checks paid out by Western Tradition Partnership were signed by his wife, Allison.[SUP][8][/SUP] The documents ultimately found in the meth house were taken from Allison LeFer's car, both the LeFers confirm. The records showed that checks written on WTP's account and signed by Allison LeFer went to gun shows, for legal work and to LeFer's printing company. She also signed a check for the group's largest expenditure, a one-time transfer on Nov. 23, 2010, for $40,000 to "WTI." This could refer to the Western Tradition Institute, the sister charity of WTP. Social welfare nonprofits like WTP are allowed to engage in some political activity, but IRS regulations say they must have social welfare as their primary purpose. Some of these 501©(4) nonprofits exploit gaps in enforcement between the IRS and election authorities so they don't have to disclose where they get their money.[SUP][9][/SUP]
WTP had sought a protective injunction against the records' release. Montana District Court Judge Jeffrey Sherlock wrote in a ruling that there is a "substantial relation between disclosure of this financial information and Montana's stated constitutional interest in its citizen's right to know." Jacob Jabs, a furniture retailer in Colorado, was named by Western Tradition Partnership as a donor of $300,000. After this was made public, Jabs said "I did talk to Christian LeFer," Jabs said. "They basically admitted they used me to get their 501©(4) status."[SUP][10][/SUP] He also told Pro Publica, "I think they just grabbed my name out of a hat to forward their agenda. I know nothing about the group, never heard of them, never have heard of them until the last few days, and I did not, absolutely did not, commit $300,000 to start this company." To further underscore this, he told The Bozeman Daily Chronicle, "I never, ever gave them a penny. It's all crap. None of it is true. They're using my name" without his knowledge or permission, Jabs said. "It's a big scam."[SUP][11][/SUP]
The attorney general's office said that ATP was in "willful disobedience" of court orders to produce records as part of discovery in the case.[SUP][12][/SUP] "I have never seen anyone stand in front of a judge and say his client's choice is not to obey that judge's orders, and furthermore to say they will continue to disobey the courts orders," said Assistant Attorney General Andy Huff. The state said documents still not produced by the group as ordered by the judge include organizational records, a list of board members, bylaws, meeting minutes and some communications. The state argues that ATP is not really a nonprofit, social welfare organization as it claims and says it is really a front group to allow anonymous money to flow into the elections process. ATP attorney James Brown argues the court's order violates the group's constitutional speech and other rights. But he told Sherlock that ATP did not appeal prior orders to produce the records because it does not believe it would win in front of the Montana Supreme Court.
The night of Halloween, 2012, five days before the national election, there was a break-in at the Office of the Commissioner of Campaign Finances and Practices, where the meth house documents were stored.[SUP][13][/SUP] Nothing was reported missing. Financial statements were due October 25 from nearly every candidate for political office in the state, resulting in piles of documents on desks and counters in the office in recent days. "It is hard to tell for sure [if anything was missing] because there are so many documents here in the office," political practices program supervisor Mary Baker said. The previous week, on October 22, there had been a break-in at the Helena campaign office of Attorney General Steve Bullock, who was then running for Governor. A laptop and $1,500 in campaign donations were taken.
A federal grand jury subpoenaed the documents to investigate illegal coordination, also citing the break-in as a need to keep the documents in a safe place.[SUP][14][/SUP]
Breaking State Campaign Laws

An article in the October 22, 2010 Montana Missoulian reported that the Western Tradition Partnership broke state campaign laws when it mailed fliers attacking legislative candidates in the run-up to an election without registering as a political committee and publicly disclosing the source and disposition of its funds. A two-year investigation of the group uncovered a PowerPoint presentation created in 2010 that said the group planned to spend $537,000 on Montana elections that year. The state Commission of Political Practices said the group should pay civil penalties and face further investigation. [SUP][15][/SUP]
2012 Political Activity

Citizens United and Campaign Finance

American Tradition Partnership was at the center of much political activity in 2012. Most prominently, the group helped the Supreme Court underscore their Citizens United decision by suing the state of Montana, overturning century-old campaign-finance disclosure laws. The U.S. Supreme Court upended and reversed Western Tradition Partnership, Inc. v. Attorney General of Montana, a case where the Montana Supreme Court decided Citizens United did not apply to Montana's thorough campaign finance laws.[SUP][16][/SUP]
In the federal court's 5-4 decision, the minority declared "Even if I were to accept Citizens United, this court's legal conclusion should not bar the Montana Supreme Court's finding, made on the record before it, that independent expenditures by corporations did in fact lead to corruption or the appearance of corruption in Montana. Given the history and political landscape in Montana, that court concluded that the state had a compelling interest in limiting independent expenditures by corporations," said Justice Steven Breyer. He added, "Montana's experience, like considerable experience elsewhere since the court's decision in Citizens United, casts grave doubt on the court's supposition that independent expenditures do not corrupt or appear to do so."[SUP][17][/SUP]
In the Montana court's 5-2 decision, writing for the majority, Chief Justice Mike McGrath noted a century ago "the state of Montana and its government were operating under a mere shell of legal authority, and the real social and political power was wielded by powerful corporate managers to further their own business interests. The voters had more than enough of the corrupt practices and heavy-handed influence asserted by the special interests controlling Montana's political institutions."[SUP][18][/SUP]
Montana state attorneys think in challenging various campaign laws, American Tradition Partnership instead violated the laws.[SUP][19][/SUP] Mike Black, an assistant attorney general defending the state against a lawsuit from ATP, said the state believes that ATP is a front for political money that wants to illegally hide its identity and spending activity. "We believe it was a sham from the beginning," he notes. ATP has been fighting in court for two years against a state ruling that it is a political committee, and therefore must publicly report its campaign-related spending and financial donors.
American Tradition Partnership started a "newspaper" in 2012, The Montana Statesman. The paper ran front-page articles attacking state Attorney General Steve Bullock, who was prosecuting them while he was also running for Governor. It accused Bullock of failing to prosecute child molesters. Other stories attacked the state auditor, a Supreme Court candidate and the secretary of state.
Republican Complaints of Illegal Coordination in the GOP Primary

Two Republican legislators who won primary elections despite a barrage of third-party attacks have filed political practices complaints against American Tradition Partnership and others.[SUP][20][/SUP] Sen. Bruce Tutvedt of Kalispell, and Rep. John Esp of Big Timber argued that ATP illegally coordinated efforts with their primary election opponents. Tutvedt, who survived a close primary challenge in June, filed a complaint against his opponent, Rollan Roberts II, and American Tradition Partnership, Taxpayers for Liberty and the National Association for Gun Rights.
Tutvedt said he was attacked by 10 separate mailers, which, like his opponent's direct mail, all came from the same mail order house in Loveland, Colo. These included mailers from ATP, Taxpayers for Liberty and the National Association for Gun Rights. In addition, a letter from Rollan Roberts's wife, printed on pink stationery, was sent to voters, "per Christian LeFer," a former ATP official, Tutvedt said. LeFer's wife, Allison, who at one time signed most of ATP's checks, owns a printing company that shared a post office box address with ATP[SUP][citation needed][/SUP]. Tutvedt said Roberts' website and numerous mailings never indicated their source of funding. "I have real problems with dark money," Tutvedt said in an interview with The Missoulian.
Esp filed two separate complaints arising from his 2010 primary. One was against Direct Mail and Western Tradition Partnership. "I just think dark money is a problem in the election process (in) that you can have anonymous money (spent) that doesn't have to tell the truth." Esp said, "It's time for them to play fair if they're going to play in politics. If the rest of us have to follow the rules, there's no reason why they shouldn't have to follow the rules too."[SUP][citation needed][/SUP] Esp alleged that at a candidate forum in Big Timber in May 2010, a number of people associated with ATP and his opponent's campaign manager "seemed to arrive together and hung out together throughout the event." He said they included Allison LeFer, whose Direct Mail company worked for his opponent's campaign; a young woman working for Christian LeFer; his opponent's campaign manager; an unidentified young man who was introduced to Esp by Allison LeFer and told he was working for a sportsmen's rights group; and others. ATP, the sportsmen's group and others "were sending out mailings negative to my campaign," Esp said, alleging illegal coordination.

The group says it is supported entirely by members.[SUP][21][/SUP]
IRS status and 990 Forms

According to an IRS document provided by former WTP executive director Donald Ferguson, WTP is a 501©(4), with EIN 26-2289809, original address c/o Scott Shires[SUP][citation needed][/SUP].
Despite the fact that it has been active since 2008, the group does not appear to have filed any 990s prior to its first in 2011. "The tax form shows that ATP brought in $122,542 in 2011."[SUP][3][/SUP]

On January 4, 2013, it was announced that executive director Danny Ferguson left the group to become the spokesman for Texas Republican Representative Steve Stockman.[SUP][22][/SUP] By Montana enforcing the law, Ferguson said that "illegal actions" of the state have caused "significant hardship" for ATP.[SUP][23][/SUP]
Board of Directors

According to the group's 2011 990 form, its unpaid directors are:[SUP][3][/SUP]
  • Peter MacKenzie
  • Jack Wells
  • Dan Reed
  • Doug Lair
Contact Details

E-mail: info AT
Articles and resources


Related SourceWatch articles

External resources

American Tradition Partnership website ( - not to be confused with the American Tradition Institute website at )
External articles
"The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways. The point, however, is to change it." Karl Marx

"He would, wouldn't he?" Mandy Rice-Davies. When asked in court whether she knew that Lord Astor had denied having sex with her.

“I think it would be a good idea” Ghandi, when asked about Western Civilisation.
"The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways. The point, however, is to change it." Karl Marx

"He would, wouldn't he?" Mandy Rice-Davies. When asked in court whether she knew that Lord Astor had denied having sex with her.

“I think it would be a good idea” Ghandi, when asked about Western Civilisation.

Featured Crook: Christian Lefer

By ATP Editor, on February 13, 2013 | Comments Off
Many people in the least couple of years have asked the question, who runs American Tradition Partnership? While this is a difficult question to answer, all indications point to Livingston/Colorado based consultant Christian Lefer.
Lefer was prominently featured in the PBS Frontline special, Big Sky Big Money. While Lefer refused to speak on camera, he left a trail of evidence that implicate him in a broad web of PAC's, 501 © 3′s, 501 © 4′s, and consulting firms that implicate him in serious campaign finance
Attached here is a partial report of Christian Lefer's Domains that he has purchased. They range from the weird (, to the political, (, to the just plain ominous ( In addition to these, Lefer used the same IP address to purchase personal websites as well as business websites. Over the next week, ATP Exposed will release additional URL's that continue to prove that Lefer has a wide web of organizations that he has used to purchase many legislators in our state capital.
Fairly unsurprisingly, Lefer has blocked access to many of these websites. I think everyone should wonder, what is Lefer hiding?
"The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways. The point, however, is to change it." Karl Marx

"He would, wouldn't he?" Mandy Rice-Davies. When asked in court whether she knew that Lord Astor had denied having sex with her.

“I think it would be a good idea” Ghandi, when asked about Western Civilisation.
Once again:

Attached Files
.jpg   earth first logo.jpg (Size: 14.3 KB / Downloads: 2)
"It means this War was never political at all, the politics was all theatre, all just to keep the people distracted...."
"Proverbs for Paranoids 4: You hide, They seek."
"They are in Love. Fuck the War."

Gravity's Rainbow, Thomas Pynchon

"Ccollanan Pachacamac ricuy auccacunac yahuarniy hichascancuta."
The last words of the last Inka, Tupac Amaru, led to the gallows by men of god & dogs of war

Possibly Related Threads…
Thread Author Replies Views Last Post
  American Third Position (A3P) 0 415 Less than 1 minute ago
Last Post:
  How ngo’s are indoctrinating young african politicians to serve western interests Magda Hassan 0 2,804 Less than 1 minute ago
Last Post:

Forum Jump:

Users browsing this thread: 1 Guest(s)