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Another Montana Senate seat is up for grabs and, as expected, the dark money vultures are hovering. Smear ads paid for by out-of-state PACs are popping up like mushrooms in manure.

The National Republican Senatorial Committee is running ads saying Democrat Steve Bullock steered $14 million in state contracts toward his brother’s company, when his brother, Bill Bullock, sold all his interest in the firm in question in 2009, years before his brother was elected governor.

An ad from a Democrat PAC Majority Forward accuses the GOP candidate, incumbent Steve Daines, of being in the tank for pharmaceutical companies and insurers. Daines did vote for large tax cuts for those groups, but he has also supported measures that would reduce drug prices and ensure coverage for those with preexisting conditions.

These types of misleading ads aren’t unique in Montana to the Senate race, unfortunately. They are widespread and a disservice to our democracy.

Here’s a tip: If you see it, read it, or hear it in an “attack” ad, assume it’s misleading, out-of-context or outright false until proven otherwise.

In the high stakes contest for control of the Senate, sparsely populated states like Montana draw disproportionate amounts of outside money for negative advertising. Why? Because they can reach most of the eligible voters with a relatively small amount of money.

So brace yourself. This is just getting started.

The only antidote for this poison is for voters to reject the messages in these ads and exercise critical thinking when choosing a candidate to support. It’s imperative that we reject the dark and misleading messaging in attack ads and use established, proven, dependable sources of information like long-established newspapers, broadcasters or websites like votesmart.org and ballotpedia.org.

And as you become informed, challenge those who are spewing false information spread through attack ads paid for by PACs funded by murky donors.

We are going to disagree about how to vote because of ideological differences. That’s fine. That’s how our political system is meant to work. But let’s do so with accurate information.

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Editorial Board

  • Mark Dobie, publisher
  • Nick Ehli, managing editor
  • Bill Wilke, opinion page editor
  • Richard Broome, community member
  • Renee Gavin, community member
  • Will Swearingen, community member
  • Angie Wasia, community member

To send feedback on editorials, write to citydesk@dailychronicle.com.