close
close

PAC makes unsubstantiated claims to fight Green Party candidate

Laura Lundquist

(Missoula Current) Montanans recently received a political mailing containing counterintuitive claims about a Green Party candidate, further demonstrating that the Green Party sometimes becomes a melting pot for random people with political aspirations.

Last week, a Republican political action committee called “More Jobs, Less Government” sent out a mailing against Robert Barb, a Green Party candidate running for a U.S. Senate seat from Montana.

The mailing describes Barb as a “radical progressive extremist” and adds that he wants to “practice 'ecological wisdom'” and that he will “stop at nothing to reduce America's carbon footprint, even if it means making enemies on both sides of the aisle.”

“Don’t vote for extremist leftist Robert Barb in the Green Party’s primary for the US Senate,” the flyer said.

Barb, however, is not a “leftist” and has not taken an official stance on climate change. On his campaign website, RobertBarb4ussenate.com, he says that ecological wisdom is one of the Green Party's cornerstones, but goes on to explain that his minimalist philosophy comes from living for decades “off the grid” in the mountains of western Montana.

Barb, who reportedly hails from Darby, doesn't list contact information on his website but has an Instagram account under the name “wapitibob406.” His profile says he lives in Montana but was “born and raised in the Rocky Mountains of Wyoming.”

Most of his posts are about hunting and guns, but the few political posts are against Biden and the Democrats. His only reference to climate change was a post from last August, when Barb wrote on a video clip by right-wing commentator Tom Renz: “They don't want you to eat meat because it's easier to give you Jabba juice through genetically modified vegetables. The climate crisis is a bogus story.”

After a years-long legal battle, the Green Party was allowed to run again in this year's Montana primary elections. This year, only two Green candidates ran, both in the race for Montana's U.S. Senate seat.

Barb's leanings, including guns and a desire to decriminalize marijuana, would be more in line with the Libertarian Party platform. But Sid Daoud of Kalispell is already running for Senate on the Libertarian Party ballot, and Barb has run on the Green Party ballot before.

In 2020, Barb was the Green Party's candidate for governor. That same year, Gary Marbut, a gun rights activist from Missoula, ran on the Green Party's ticket for a seat in the state Senate. Neither of them really fit the mold of the Green Party, which has been led for years by physician and environmental activist Jill Stein.

According to the party's website, the Greens support safeguarding democracy through campaign finance reform and the introduction of ranked-choice voting; they promote social justice, including economic equality and reproductive rights; they promote environmental sustainability, including energy conservation and renewable energy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions; and economic sustainability, including fair taxation, antitrust law, and banking and insurance reform.

Steve Kelly, chairman of the Montana Green Party, said he doesn't know how he can control who claims to be a Green Party candidate. Anyone can say so, but Kelly said that applies to any political party, since anyone can file with the secretary of state as any candidate.

Although Kelly is a member of the Green Party, he has also run as a Republican, an independent and a Democrat in various elections. Marbut has done the same. Kelly said this is not as common with the two major political parties because they have the money to influence which candidate will win in the primaries.

“This happens all the time. You can't tell somebody they're nothing if they pay the (filing) fee. That's why they're requiring smaller parties to hold primaries, because we have no control over what anyone does,” Kelly said. “In our race, the Tea Party put up a man, Robert Barb, as a 'radical environmentalist,' but in reality he's an outfitter. The other man is Michael Downey, a staunch Democrat.”

Kelly was able to contact Downey, a Helena resident with experience in the natural resources field, who sent her what Kelly said was a vague position paper. Kelly was unable to reach Barb.

More Jobs, Less Government, the PAC that funded the mailing denouncing Barb for his alleged stance on climate change, has a minimalist website that simply says its goal is to ensure Republicans retake the U.S. Senate in 2024.

According to OpenSecrets.org, a website that tracks political spending, the 2020 PAC was formed solely to influence politics in Montana. In 2020, it spent nearly $895,000 to oppose Steve Bullock in the U.S. Senate race in Montana against Steve Daines.

According to a May 28 filing by the Federal Election Commission, the PAC has spent more than $5 million in this year's U.S. Senate race supporting Republican Senate candidate Tim Sheehy and another $1.5 million opposing Senator Jon Tester. The PAC has also spent more than $114,000 opposing Matt Rosendale's narrow bid for Senate.

There is no mention of the expenditures for the mailing campaign against Barb, and some wonder why the PAC even bothers to make hysterical claims against a minor third-party candidate.

Kelly said the flyer would probably not convince any member of the Green Party anyway.

“All these people from the Green Party are probably not going to run in the primaries because what's the point? Green voters are not loyal to any party, they follow a set of ideas. The Green Party just promotes those positions,” Kelly said. “I'm loyal to getting people with ideas on the ballot.”

Contact reporter Laura Lundquist at lundquist@missoulacurrent.com.

Anna Harden

Learn More →

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *