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.
- 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.