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Montana politics, elections and legislative news.

Montana Democratic Party Alleges SOS Stapleton Broke Campaign Finance Law

Montana Secretary of State Corey Stapleton.
Corey Stapleton
Montana Secretary of State Corey Stapleton.

The Montana Democratic Party alleges Secretary of State Corey Stapleton broke campaign finance law early this month when announcing his plans to run for governor.

The Democrats filed their complaint with the state’s Commissioner of Political Practices earlier this week. It submits as evidence a press release sent from the Secretary of State’s Office on January 2, announcing Stapleton’s plans to run for governor in 2020.

Democratic Party Executive Director Monica Lindeen says this kind of communication should not have been sent out with a state email address.

“And on letterhead, which contained the Montana state seal.”

The complaint cites that state law prohibits, “the use of state facilities to support or oppose a political candidate.”

Lindeen declined to say if making an announcement that an individual is running for public office is considered an activity to support or oppose them. But she said it was an illegal use of state resources.

Secretary of State Corey Stapleton was not immediately available for comment. But a spokesperson for his office says it’s their opinion that the press release announcing Stapleton’s 2020 plans does not count as campaigning.

Corin Cates-Carney is the news director at Montana Public Radio. He joined MTPR in 2015 and is a graduate of the University of Montana School of Journalism.
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