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Montana politics, elections and legislative news

GOP Files Ethics Complaint Over Cooney Campaign Meeting

Mike Cooney is the 2020 Democratic candidate for governor.

The Montana Republican Party has filed an ethics complaint with the Commissioner of Political Practices, alleging Lt. Gov. Mike Cooney participated in a campaign strategy call in his office at the Capitol.

Filed Tuesday, the GOP’s complaint highlighted a portion of state ethics law reading "a public officer or public employee may not use or permit the use of public time, facilities, equipment, supplies, personnel or funds to solicit support for or opposition to the nomination or election of a person to public office."

Cooney, who is seeking the Democratic nomination for governor, has acknowledged listening to a video conference call provided by the Democratic Governors Association on his personal laptop in his state office on April 13.

His campaign called it an isolated incident that happened because he was between meetings on a consistently tight schedule created by Montana's dealing with the novel coronavirus. Cooney's campaign said he did not raise money or otherwise campaign during the call, which was also attended by opponent Whitney Williams.

Fundraising figures released Wednesday showed Williams with $300,000 in cash on hand as of May 14, versus Cooney's $200,000. To date, Williams has raised about $1 million while Cooney has raised about $890,000, according to figures from the campaigns.

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