Secretary of State Corey Stapleton was fined $4,000 Monday for violating state ethics laws.
Stapleton misused state resources when sending a press release from the Secretary of State's Office announcing his bid for governor in 2020, according to a decision signed by the Montana Commissioner of Political Practices.
The press release sent January 2 was on official Secretary of State’s office letterhead and was titled ‘Montana Secretary of State Corey Stapleton Announces He is Running for Governor in 2020.’
At the time, Stapleton said he believed the communication did not violate state ethics laws.
However Commissioner of Political Practices Jeff Mangan cited four violations of state ethics laws in his order Monday.
Mangan said that Stapleton, in announcing his candidacy for public office, used state facilities, equipment, supples and personnel. Stapleton's press release was sent to 154 members of the media.
The ethics complaint was filed by the Montana Democratic Party days after Stapleton announced his run for governor.
In an emailed statement sent Monday, Stapleton wrote "I apologize for the inappropriate press release. It won’t happen again."
Two high-profile Republicans have announced bids for governor in 2020 when Democrat Steve Bullock terms out of office. Corey Stapleton was the first followed by current Attorney General Tim Fox.