Montana Public Radio

Complaint Alleges Attorney General Candidate Is Ineligible For Office

Feb 5, 2020

A former Montana legislator has accused a fellow Democrat of being ineligible for the office he’s campaigning for, alleging he hasn’t practiced law in the state for long enough to run for state attorney general. A two-way Democratic primary is underway for the job, pitting Missoula state Representative Kimberly Dudik against Raph Graybill, chief legal counsel to the Governor’s Office.

The complaint filed with the Montana Commissioner of Political Practices alleges Graybill does not meet the Montana Constitution’s requirements to run for state attorney general. Graybill’s campaign responded he plainly meets those requirements, and that the complaint is politically motivated.

Raph Graybill is one of two candidates in the Democratic primary for the office of Montana attorney general.
Credit Courtesy Raph Graybill

The Montana Constitution states a person is eligible if they are an attorney in good standing who has been admitted to practice law in the state, and who has also “engaged in the active practice thereof for at least five years before election.”

The complaint was lodged by Dave Wanzenried, a state legislator who’s served 18 years between state House and Senate. He lives in Yellowstone County and is a fundraiser for Dudik’s attorney general campaign.

“I have not talked to [Dudik] about the complaint,” he said. “Last fall, my wife and I had a fundraiser for her, and after people had left, we were sort of talking through whether or not he met the qualifications.”

Graybill said he was admitted to the State Bar of Montana in 2015. He claims his time with a Seattle law firm, and his work as a federal law clerk for the United States Court of Appeals, count toward the constitutional requirements. Wanzenried’s complaint argues they do not.

Graybill’s campaign called the complaint “the worst of whisper-campaign politics.” Dudik told Montana Public Radio she hasn’t read the complaint, but “there are questions that need to be answered.” She claimed the complaint can’t be politically motivated because she herself did not file it.

Commissioner of Political Practices Jeff Mangan is asking both parties to file additional arguments by the end of the week.