AFPF just concluded their Defending the American Dream Summit at the Washington Hilton this past weekend and at one of the panels, which I was unable to attend, there was a discussion about the elusive Montana Cowgirl. Cowgirl is a liberal blogger who is exceptional at ascertaining information on conservative activists. With four sessions occurring at the same time, it’s impossible to see everything, but luckily R.S. McCain was able to blog about the discussion surrounding this troublemaker.
Who is “Montana Cowgirl?” As Stacy mentioned in his post on August 4th:
It is believed by some Montana activists that “Montana Cowgirl” is actually an attorney employed in the governor’s office. Paying a political opposition researcher from taxpayer funds would almost certainly be illegal and yet, as the activist who raised the issue at today’s AFP panel pointed out, there has been no investigative follow-up on this potential scandal, and the media have mostly ignored it.
Two years ago, the Associated Press reported that “Montana Cowgirl” was working from a state government IP address:
The Department of Administration, provided with detail on the IP address of some posts, was able to identify that the blogger had been accessing — all day long at times — the state wireless guest system through a hookup in the Office of Public Instruction using an Apple Macintosh laptop. The agency spokeswoman at the time, Jessica Rhoades, said neither she nor anyone else at the agency was doing it. Rhoades, who recently went to work for the governor’s office, said the agency’s information technology found at that time the wireless system could theoretically be accessed by someone sitting in the parking lot.
Cowgirl is also a contributor to Daily Kos. The identity of Cowgirl was kept secret by his/her former hosts at the Left In The West blog, however, the Billings Gazette reported in October of 2010 that Montana Cowgirl had a falling out with West management and launched a new blog that past summer. Around that time, Cowgirl upset local liberals during a State Senate race between Democrat Kendall Van Dyk and incumbent Republican Roy Brown. In the end, Van Dyk won by four votes. However, that wasn’t before Cowgirl published a piece with:
Kendall Van Dyk…in hunting garb and a dead buck and a caption that reads “Man.” Republican Roy Brown is shown in a picture wearing a sweater and a shoulder bag with a caption that says “Man Purse.”
The race between Van Dyk and Brown for a Billings Senate seats is one of the most heated legislative races of this campaign, and the post by the left-leaning, anonymous blogger underlines questions of accountability in attempting to influence elections in the new media age. Especially with posts coming from inside state government.
The post has prompted lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender activists to accuse the blogger of perpetuating stereotypes that a “real man” is more qualified.
“I think there is a danger in saying one candidate is more of a man than another,” said Jamee Greer of the Montana Human Rights Network. “This type of message can help create a hostile environment where LBGT Montanans feel pressured to conform or face harmful and potentially dangerous repercussions.”
However, what’s so crazy, as mentioned above, is the access to information. Apparently, Cowgirl “released on the Internet potentially incriminating Department of Labor enforcement documents sent to one of Schweitzer’s political critics — even before one of those letters was received by the businessman being investigated. The Labor Department said those documents were never released to a member of the news media or public.“
Aaron Flint posted in October of 2010 about the identity of Cowgirl. He wrote:
…Could the real “Montana Cowgirl” be a reddish-brown haired transplant from Massachussetts? That is certainly the speculation of at least three sources who posed this exact scenario to me, pointing to a Livingston, Montana woman whose facebook profile expresses her ”like” of “pissing off Republicans,” and whose WordPress website expresses a “love of the entire Obama clan” and poses the question to the site’s readers: “Who is this Cowgirl?” They added that a fake Facebook profile was created under the name of “Sven Svengali” to attack conservative Montana Supreme Court nominee Nels Swandal, of the Livingston area. The term Svengali apparently originates from the literature of French-born novelist George du Maurier. De La Cruz apparently studied French literature.
If De La Cruz is indeed ”Montana Cowgirl” it would paint a fascinating picture of a woman who has conducted a CIA-like covert operation, hiding her identity from the media and politicos alike-leaking some of the campaign season’s top political stories. So I figured, why not call her and find out? So I did. Despite her apparent knowledge of politics on her website, she not only said that she is not “Montana Cowgirl,” but added that she hadn’t heard of the site. When asked, De La Cruz said she didn’t even know if Dennis McDonald was a Democrat or Republican.
Dennis McDonald was the Democratic candidate for Montana’s At-large congressional seat and got trounced in the general by incumbent and current Republican nominee for U.S. Senate Denny Rehberg.
We’ve seemed to have hit a dead end in this search for Cowgirl’s identity. Although, I’m sure we will eventually find out the identity of this left-wing scandalmonger.
Cowgirl’s Twitter account.
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