Democratic Gubernatorial Candidate Slams Ruling Eliminating Contribution Limits Despite His Campaign Violating Contribution Laws

This was just posted on Media Trackers Montana.

U.S. District Court Judge Charles Lovell struck down Montana’s caps on campaign contributions yesterday, a move that could have a significant impact on the race for governor. Democratic gubernatorial candidate and Attorney General Steve Bullock bashed the ruling even though his campaign previously accepted over-the-limit campaign contributions from GlaxoSmithKline (GSK).

“This is a destructive ruling for Montana’s citizen democracy, and disturbing for those of us who believe that democracy is not for sale and politics is about values and issues, not money,” Bullock told the Associated Press.

A previous investigative analysis conducted by Media Trackers Montana found that the Bullock campaign had taken two contributions from GSK designated for the primary election but used them for the general election without prior consent, resulting in the campaign accepting over-the-limit contributions.

According to GSK, the company did not give the Bullock campaign the consent required by law to use the funds for general election purposes until after Media Trackers notified GSK of the Bullock campaign’s violation of state campaign finance laws. Former Republican gubernatorial candidate Ken Miller was found guilty by Commissioner of Political Practice Jim Murray for violating similar campaign finance laws earlier this year.

Murray found that although the Miller campaign received permission after the fact — just as Bullock’s campaign received from GSK — the campaign still violated finance laws by accepting over-the-limit contributions.

“The contributions were received prior to the primary election and, importantly, were not designated by the contributors for the general election at the time they were made,” Murray wrote in his decision regarding Bishop v. Miller for Governor 2012. “While Miller later obtained designations from contributors after the complaint was filed, that does not nullify the violations.”

There are currently five pending investigations against Bullock for additional alleged campaign finance violations, as well as one pending investigation into allegations that Bullock’s office violated state lobbying laws.

Garrett Lenderman is a researcher and writer for Media Trackers Montana, a conservative non-profit, non-partisan, watchdog journalism group, holding both the media and government accountable.