How Birchers Stopped the Con-Con in Montana
by Alan Lackey, Field Coordinator for Western Montana, Northern Idaho, and Eastern Washington
For four long months this legislative session, JBS members squared off against an assault on our Constitution by the well-funded Convention of States (COS) organization. The actions taken by dedicated Montana Birchers, supportive legislators, JBS field and headquarters staff, and JBS allies created a synergy of effort that resulted in a victorious record of four-to-nothing.
Montana is in the crosshairs of COS, as indicated by the large sums of money the organization spent on COS-friendly candidates to influence the June 2022 primaries and the subsequent 2023 legislative session. Also, COS added to its in-state staff and expanded its media presence.
Despite the momentum and influence the COS lobby had gained, determined JBS members sprang into action to counter COS propaganda with the truth about the risks of a constitutional convention. The relationships forged between JBS members and Con-Con-opposing legislators in prior sessions were invaluable. One of our stalwart JBS members also befriended the governor, and for the last few years has purchased him a gift subscription to The New American magazine. This turned out to be very helpful; a few months ago, the governor appeared on a statewide talk-radio show that culminated with a Q&A segment. A supporter of COS called in telling the governor that he should support an Article V convention. The governor’s reply was terrific and on-point about the risks of amending the Constitution, proving he had read the information from TNA.
Two chapters mailed information packets to all the legislators (150 members) in December, prior to the session. Chapter members also had connections inside the Capitol, and got JBS materials placed in all the legislators’ mailboxes at the beginning of the session. Nothing can replace face-to-face interaction, and several members were able to schedule meetings with their legislators who were leaning toward supporting Con-Con resolutions. In two instances, they secured a vote in opposition. JBS members flooded their legislators with phone calls, emails, texts, and letters. At a legislative hearing over a Con-Con resolution, committee members were overheard commenting about the large amount of opposition the resolution had received. Birching does make a difference! Many thanks also go out to the members who testified at the hearings either in-person or via Zoom — they made many compelling arguments against a convention that were critical to victory.
Field staff and headquarters did their part monitoring the progress of legislation; alerting membership to the scheduling of the Con-Con resolutions; and providing information, instructions, and links for contacting relevant committee members and other legislators at the appropriate times. In addition to keeping an eye on the Legislature, field staff were at the Capitol or on Zoom to testify at hearings.
Thanks also goes to the expert friends of JBS who lent their knowledge and expertise about constitutional issues. They testified and made themselves available via Zoom at committee hearings to answer questions from the committee members.
Now that the current legislative season is winding down, it is imperative that all Birchers develop relationships with their legislators, thanking the ones who defended the Constitution and educating the ones who didn’t. Also, it is the perfect time to promote the Constitution and share true solutions with friends and neighbors, to gain allies for the next battle.