Jon Tester Wants to Ban Dark Money. But Not Until It Helps Him Win.

Shady super PAC meddling in Montana GOP primary bankrolled by Schumer dark money group, filings show

Sen. Jon Tester (Getty Images)
February 1, 2024

Sen. Jon Tester (D., Mont.) wants a constitutional amendment to outlaw dark money in elections—exactly the kind of dark money a Chuck Schumer-aligned group is spending to boost Tester’s reelection campaign.

The Last Best Place PAC has raised more than $21 million since last September. Of that, the group has spent nearly $6 million on television ads designed to keep Montana businessman Tim Sheehy from securing the Republican Senate nomination. Sheehy is seen as a more competitive candidate than Rep. Matt Rosendale (R., Mont.), who is widely expected to announce his candidacy next month. Rosendale lost his last bid to Tester in 2018 by four points.

All of Last Best Place PAC’s funds come from Majority Forward, federal filings show, a left-wing dark money group associated with Schumer’s Senate Majority PAC. The groups share several senior employees.

Such an arrangement could prove awkward for Tester, who just last month called for a "constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United and kick unlimited dark money out of our elections." Tester is considered the most vulnerable Senate Democrat up for reelection in November, and will likely lean on the war chests of left-wing PACs to help save his seat. Former president Donald Trump won Montana by more than 20 points in 2016 and nearly 17 points in 2020.

Tester’s office did not respond to a request for comment.

Schumer’s PAC spent millions of dollars in 2022 to boost Republicans whom Democrats deemed more beatable. Their efforts were successful in New Hampshire, where Republican Don Bolduc lost his bid to unseat Sen. Maggie Hassan (D.) by nearly 10 points after receiving more than $3 million from Senate Majority PAC.