The campaign to elect Jon Tester, the Democratic nominee for the U.S. Senate seat in Montana, has released a report this week alleging that Sen. Conrad Burns directed millions in federal funds and legislative favors to clients of lobbyists and companies who hired former Burns staffers. The 11-page report, "Burns Delivers … but Not for Montana," plays off of Burns's campaign slogan: "Delivering for Montana." The Burns campaign often highlights that the senator has brought back billions in federal funds to Montana since he was elected in 1988.
The report, which is based largely on published media reports, alleges that Burns has supported legislative favors and directed hundreds of millions of dollars to companies that paid his former staffers more than 20 million dollars in lobbying fees during the same period. A satellite company, for example, paid former Burns staffers more than $1 million in lobbying fees, says the report. Burns then helped pass legislation allowing the company to privatize, the report alleges.
"Senator Burns has been bought and paid for by lobbyists like convicted felon Jack Abramoff and the gang of his former employees that are getting rich off his position in the Senate," says Tester, a farmer and president of the Montana state senate.
Jason Klindt, spokesman for the Burns campaign, said he hadn't read the report but that it seemed like just campaign rhetoric coming out of the Tester campaign. "Montanans know that Sen. Conrad Burns has the seniority and experience to get things done for them for the next six years," says Klindt.