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“Self-Defense” for MT Voters Goes Online

January 7, 2008

Philipsburg, MT – They can run, but they can't hide. Politicians running for office can't hide from tough questions in Montana anymore, thanks to a new database of voting records, campaign donation information and speeches of every candidate and elected leader in the state and nation.

Richard Kimball with Project Vote Smart says it has taken more than a decade to collect the information and make it available to anyone, free of charge, in the interest of helping voters cut through the rhetoric of politics.

"It's not that Democrats are more likely to answer questions than Republicans, or the other way around. They're both sort of in lockstep with each other, trying to control the messages."

Kimball says his group was able to find out where candidates and incumbents stand on issues by searching records that include contents of their speeches and special interest group rankings. Former Presidents Carter and Ford, as well as Republican presidential candidate John McCain, helped start the project.

Kimball says it's clear that money has grown to be the dominating factor in politics, a trend that he'd like to see change to encourage a new generation of leaders to run for office.

"Potential candidates know if they don't collect all this money, and if they don't do these silly commercials and attack their opponents, that they're not going to win. So, they frankly don't run anymore."

More information on Project Vote Smart can be found online at

Deborah Smith/John Robinson, Public News Service - MT