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Bullock Agrees To Pay Campaign-Related Security Escort Costs

Montana Gov. Steve Bullock speaking at the Des Moines Register Political Soapbox at the Iowa State Fair, August 16, 2018.
Clay Masters
Iowa Public Radio
Montana Governor Steve Bullock speaking at the Des Moines Register Political Soapbox at the Iowa State Fair, August 16, 2018.

Gov. Steve Bullock’s presidential campaign has agreed to pay for the travel, lodging and meals of the Montana Highway Patrol security detail accompanying him on out-of-state campaign travel.

Bullock’s official staff signed-off on an agreement earlier this month to pay for the expenses after Attorney General Tim Fox ordered a stop to the security. As of publication time the exact cost of the security detail has not been made public. 

On May 31, Fox sent an email to Bullock telling him that, effective immediately, the Executive Protection Detail would stop traveling with him on the campaign trail.

Fox wrote that Bullock’s candidacy for president created an unprecedented situation for the security detail now accompanying him on business that is “entirely focused on supporting and advocating for your election to another public office.”

Fox also claimed that in addition to traveling with Bullock, it was his understanding that state Highway Patrol officers have “performed advance work on your behalf at various campaign destinations and venues.”

In a letter the attorney general three days later, Gov. Bullock’s Chief of Staff Ali Bovingdon expressed concern over how the changes in the security detail would impact the safety of the governor and his family.

On July 2, the two offices reached an agreement to continue the state security detail while Bullock is out of state campaigning for president. But the agreement says the governor's campaign must reimburse the Highway Patrol for incidental expenses.

In a statement Monday, governor’s office spokesperson Marissa Perry said the Executive Protection Detail only provides protection services and does not campaign for or against candidates for office.

Perry said that the governor's office worked out the agreement to continue the security detail with reimbursements from the Bullock campaign, "even though it is not legally required by Montana law."

Late last week, the governor’s office requested the Commissioner of Political Practices issue an advisory opinion related to the rules for executive protection for Bullock.

On Monday, the Montana Republican Republian Party filed an ethics complaint against the governor accusing the governor of using public supplies and money in his campaign for president.

Commissioner of Political Practice Jeff Mangan says his office is reviewing the complaint to see whether it raises valid concerns of a potential violation of state ethics laws.

Bullock is scheduled to campaign in Iowa later this week — his fourth trip to the state in as many weeks.

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