A tale of two Testers

Democrat Jon Tester is campaigning hard to hold onto his Montana Senate seat in the face of a strong challenge by Rep. Denny Rehberg. But Tester seems to be campaigning harder against President Obama than against Rehberg. Below, via Eliana Johnson at NRO, is a Tester ad that seeks to portray the candidate as an obstacle to the Obama administration.

But Tester was no obstacle to Obama’s leftist agenda when the Senate voted on the Obama stimulus bill and on Obamacare. Tester voted with Obama in both instances. Without his vote, Obamacare would have been defeated.

Tester’s support for the core of Obama’s liberal agenda should not come as a surprise. Tester endorsed Obama over Hillary Clinton during the primary/caucus season. In announcing his endorsement, to Chris Matthews no less, Tester described himself as “an Obama guy.”

Tester doesn’t just conceal his left-liberal voting record from Montana voters; he misstates it. In a piece of direct mail, Tester claimed that he has a “record of opposing all bailouts, including the bailout of Wall Street and the U.S. auto industry.” In fact, however, Tester voted to bail out mortgage giants Fannie and Freddie.

Tester claims that the legislation to keep Fannie and Freddie afloat wasn’t a bailout. But this position is ridiculous. As banking industry economist Greg McBride notes, “the government put Fannie and Freddie into receivership, so the term ‘bailout’ is much more accurate than it is in the case of banks.”

Tester has also made a mockery of his 2006 campaign promises regarding ethics. Tester took down former Senator Conrad Burns, a major recipient of funds from Jack Abramoff, by campaigning as an anti-lobbying crusader. Yet, this year Tester has received more campaign cash from lobbyists than any other member of Congress, according to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics.

Tester is a particular object of the largesse of the banking industry. He ranks second in the Senate for commercial bank donations, third for credit card companies, and tenth for investment banks. So far in 2012, Tester has received nearly $875,000 from the banking and real estate industries.

Not coincidentally, a former top Tester staffer, Jason Rosenberg, is now a lobbyist whose clients are nearly all banking and financial firms, and include some of Tester’s biggest fundraisers. Ironically, Tester promised to “shut my door to former members and staff who try to cash in on their connections” by lobbying their old colleagues. Rosenberg must not have gotten the memo. When he left Tester’s shop in 2010, Rosenberg wrote that he looked forward to working with his old colleagues.

Tester claims that Rosenberg does not lobby him and that he doesn’t even know the name of Rosenberg’s lobbying firm. Perhaps not. But even if Tester has “shut his door” to Rosenberg personally, it surely remains wide open to the interests that are pouring money into the Senator’s campaign coffers.

Those who wish to defeat the fake moderate, fake squeaky clean Senator Tester can contribute to the campaign of Denny Rehberg (a Power Line Six Pick) here.

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