The Missoulian recently ran a one-sided story about the frivolous lawsuit filed against me 20 months ago by Gov. Steve Bullock’s appointed commissioner of political practices, which was timed to defeat me during the 2014 election. Their suit was premised on a crazy theory that I did not pay the “real” cost (i.e., double the invoiced amount paid) for a vendor’s mailing services during my 2010 Senate campaign. While I have vigorously defended myself in court, I have remained silent publicly, until now.

Sworn testimony was recently conducted of the commissioner and I, and it was telling.

They asked me about my associations with various people, including those with no connection to my 2010 campaign. It is not about what I did, but who I know.

Their overreach continued the next day when the commissioner, who is notably wearing six hats (i.e., he drafted the “citizen” complaint, investigated it, ruled in his own favor, filed a suit in court as the plaintiff and the attorney, and has now declared himself an “expert” who can provide his speculative opinion), was deposed.

Since his first “double invoice” theory was easily debunked, he was forced to change his case to an even more bizarre theory, which penalizes me for not reporting all unknown spending by unrelated third parties during my 2010 campaign.

Now he plans to offer yet additional opinions against me, despite my record of independence from special interests in the capitol halls.

Instead of facts, his “proof” is that some 2010 conservative third-party groups supported me (and others) who wanted to protect citizen rights to guns, life and limited government spending. He then concludes that any of us who actually voted as a conservative are corrupt. Only conservative Republicans have been sued under this impossible standard, which would never be enforced against a Democrat who was supported by liberal political groups and then voted as a liberal.

Incredibly, he specifically bases his bizarre opinion of wrongdoing on my 2015 voting record, including my vote against a bill that incurred $100 million of additional public debt for a variety of state buildings, including Montana State University’s Romney Gymnasium. He even testified that, as such, I was not representing my constituents, because in his opinion, anything that MSU wants is supported by everyone in Gallatin Valley (and the state).

So campaigning honestly as a conservative, in a conservative district of the county, and winning 70 percent of the vote in both the 2010 and 2014 elections, means nothing.

The lesson? Vote the way the governor and establishment wants, and you won’t get sued. You just can’t make this stuff up.

So in late March 2016, the governor will try to accomplish through a Helena jury box what he could not accomplish at the Gallatin Valley ballot box – silence the most vocal opposition to his big government, big union and big spending ways.

My political opponents are pleased that I have been forced to spend time and money defending myself against the thought police in a bogus lawsuit, and they are determined to steal away the people’s elected representative. It would make George Orwell cringe.

Rep. Art Wittich, R-Bozeman, represents House District 68 in the Montana Legislature. 

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