Missoulian story provides information on Dolan family political donations

The Missoulian posted a story Saturday detailing the political donations of James Dolan Jr., the Pittsburgh businessman behind The Club at Spanish Peaks and Montana Opticom, a name you’re no doubt familiar with already if you read this blog.

montlogo.gifThe highlights:

  • Dolan’s father, a former investment fund manager and the founder of Opticom’s owner, Ascent Data, owns a home at Spanish Peaks valued at $11.5 million.
  • The Dolans gave nearly $230,000 to congressional candidates and PACs in the last decade, mostly in the last two years.
  • Rep. Denny Rehberg wrote a letter on behalf of Opticom’s initial stimulus funding application in August 2009. Rehberg also wrote letters for several other telcos.
  • Sen. Max Baucus also wrote a letter supporting Opticom’s initial application.

Judging by the paragraph at the end of the Missoulian story, the story was likely inspired by an e-mail from Scott Johnson, president of Global Net in Bozeman, who has been loud in his opposition to the Opticom stimulus award, saying that the money will benefit out of state businesses at the cost of local ones.

All that said, I’m not sure what the point of this story was. Sure, it provides some background information about the people behind Montana Opticom, but since there’s no apparent evidence of misdeeds, why are the Dolans’ political donations news?

And, since both Rehberg and Baucus’ letters were in support of Opticom’s first application for $45 million — not the one that was funded with $64 million in stimulus money — I also question including that information.

2 Replies to “Missoulian story provides information on Dolan family political donations”

  1. It is kind of funny- nothing makes news until there is a campaign finance angle. It seems some in the media have such an obsession with campaign finance stories- and then they complain about the importance of fundraising in elections. Take the state supreme court race here in Montana- seems the only time we read an article is when the latest fundraising totals come out. So what message does that send?

  2. In defense of funding-focused journalism, sometimes, there's nothing to write until some kind of funding report is published.

    I can understand the desire to provide context about the owners and operators of Montana Opticom, but I just don't see how any of the background mentioned in the article has anything to do with the company's stimulus award.

    Maybe that's just me, though.

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