Bullock files suit over GOP's $500K donation to Hill

2012-10-19T06:30:00Z 2013-09-08T12:25:08Z Bullock files suit over GOP's $500K donation to HillBy CHARLES S. JOHNSON Missoulian State Bureau missoulian.com

HELENA – Democratic governor candidate Steve Bullock went to court Thursday to ask a district judge to order his opponent, Rick Hill, to return a recent $500,000 donation from the Montana Republican Party.

In a lawsuit filed late Thursday in state District Court, Bullock and running mate John Walsh argued that the GOP’s $500,000 donation to Hill is illegal and sought an injunction against Hill and his campaign.

The state Republican Party donated the $500,000 to Hill on Oct. 4, a day after U.S. District Judge Charles Lovell ruled that Montana’s contribution limits were illegal.

Hill has said the contribution was legal because it came during the six-day period when Montana’s campaign donation limits were void, thus allowing for unlimited donations.

That ended Tuesday when the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals put a hold on Lovell’s decision and reinstated the state campaign limits until at least through the election.

The lawsuit came with 20 days left before the Nov. 6 election as Bullock and Hill are locked in a tight race to succeed Democrat Brian Schweitzer as governor.

Under state law, a political party can give only $22,600 to a candidate, and Hill had already received that money from the Republican Party when he got the $500,000.

In response to the lawsuit, Hill’s campaign manager Brock Lowrance said, “Bullock’s wild accusations about a legal campaign contribution is a desperate move by a panicked campaign trying to gain headlines. It is apparent our opponent and his allies are hoping to use this legal campaign contribution as a distraction from the real issues of this election.”

Lowrance said there are five investigations pending over Bullock’s own campaign practices at the political practices office.

The lawsuit asked District Judge Kathy Seeley of Helena to issue temporary, preliminary and permanent injunctions to stop Hill and his campaign from violating state election laws.

It also asked the judge to require Hill and his campaign “to immediately perform the acts necessary to comply with Montana’s election law.” That would include returning the $500,000, which the Hill campaign said it has already spent.

“Immediate injunctive relief is necessary in order to correct the irreparable harm that has occurred and continues to occur as a result of the violations of Montana’s campaign finance laws,” the Bullock complaint said. “The harm is flowing not only to plaintiffs (Bullock and Walsh), but also to the state of Montana and its citizens, as expressly recognized by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit.”

The lawsuit noted that after Lovell’s ruling, state Political Practices Commissioner Jim Murry strongly recommended that candidates, political committees and contributors abide by the state contribution limits.

Bullock and Walsh said they don’t have the time to take up the matter with the political practices office for “a plain, speedy or adequate remedy” so they turned to the District Court.

Money is critical in the remaining days of the campaign, when candidates are spending down their balances on advertising and direct mail.

Through Sept. 5, Bullock, who had token primary opposition, had raised $1,428,027, while Hill, who won a seven-way primary, had collected $1,130,566. New financial reports are due Monday.

On Tuesday, Bullock’s campaign formally requested that Hill’s campaign open its books for inspection, a practice allowed under state law.

However, instead, Hill’s campaign the next morning issued a news release with its draft campaign finance report. Hill’s campaign said he had raised more than $685,000 since Sept. 6, including the $500,000 donation from the Republican Party.

Copyright 2015 missoulian.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(9) Comments

  1. Pistol
    Report Abuse
    Pistol - October 20, 2012 11:59 am
    He will when his term is up. This year it's Tester and OBama. Funny thing though is if Tester and OBama get reelected the chances for Baucus to be reelected will go down. Two more years of Tester and OBama will hurt Democrats in future campaigns. See what happened after Carter, or to Republicans after Bush.
  2. montanamuralist
    Report Abuse
    montanamuralist - October 19, 2012 12:32 pm
    Yeah right, the Republicans will save us. The Republicans are the cause of the economic downturn morons. They are greedy and want to now come on my land for a pipeline, that I worked hard for all my life and take part of it for me for the public good. No it is for the energy providers good jerks!!! The Dems are not much better in this state. They can't field a decent candidate for the House to counter that absolute waste of space Rehberg who votes against a veterans bill the same day he votes to send us to war in Iraq....look it up if you don't believe me. Typical hypocrite Republicans. Neither are any good. I don't blame Bulloch for bringing this up because it shows the disdain Republicans have for fairness or rules. Just buy elections. Yeah that is really good for our state. Last time I checked they were discussing the issues and that is all you Repubs know how to do say talk about the issues..as long as the issues fit my agenda and my truth according to Faux News and Rush. The facts are something none of you GOP types care about...just lower taxes and the heck with everyone. Would be laughable if it was not so pathetic and narrow minded. Oh and probably racist to gto with everything else. No, go Steve..you have your big boy pants on and at least are calling these lying cheats for what they are..manipulative and in to buying elections. Go Steve...bet the court makes Hill give it back the way Bulloch did...be to late for Bulloch of course but at least another piece of evidence to show the Republicans for being the cheats they are....Montanans won't pay attention cause overall they can't read or check facts as many of the commenters here are prime examples of..all about spin and lies. Pathetic
  3. Dub
    Report Abuse
    Dub - October 19, 2012 10:10 am
    Steve, you were a failure as attorney general, what makes you think you can be governor? Anyone that watched any of the debates or listens to you speak will know instantly that you would not be a good fit for the office. Maybe a nice guy but not governor.
  4. AARGH
    Report Abuse
    AARGH - October 19, 2012 9:27 am
    My favorite story is the one where Baucus sent $100k to Harry Reid's re-election. That should have gotten Baucus booted out just for how inane that is.
  5. ambiguous genitalia
    Report Abuse
    ambiguous genitalia - October 19, 2012 9:10 am
    Funny I wonder what the total Bullock has taken from Unions who also are NOT a person
  6. walter12
    Report Abuse
    walter12 - October 19, 2012 7:05 am
    Oh, but Bullock loves his money that he gets from the DNC and Washington DC, what is good for the Goose is good for the Gander.
  7. Bittersweet
    Report Abuse
    Bittersweet - October 18, 2012 7:28 pm
    If this is a political move by Bullock....oh wait, I guess that probably goes without saying, but I do not believe it was a very good one. Pretty cheesy.
  8. idiot state
    Report Abuse
    idiot state - October 18, 2012 5:29 pm
    Agreed: doesn't Steve Bullock ever get tired of losing in court? Prima facie nothing illegal here; what's ILLEGAL is Montana's spending limitations. It's like a little loser bully finally getting his due on the playground. Montana, the least productive, lowest income, highest unemployment, most business unfriendly, highest unfunded pension liability, worst run (Barrons), worst litigation environment, lowest per capita state GDP in the region should seriously consider kicking out the Democrats who've kept that state at the bottom. Try a Republican!! Try someone's who's got legitimate and good ideas for attracting businesses and promoting growth. Or not; continue to be the most corrupt, high poverty state in the region! Your choice!
  9. Old Truth Teller
    Report Abuse
    Old Truth Teller - October 18, 2012 5:05 pm
    Steve, Don't you ever tired of losing in court? Be a man and deal with it, are you doing this because he is your opponen?t or because you care about our broken office of political practices? Time for you to put on your big-boy pants and try and run an honest race on the ISSUES.
Missoulian Civil Dialogue Policy

Civil Dialogue Policy for Commenting on Missoulian.com

We provide this community forum for readers to exchange ideas and opinions on the news of the day. Passionate views, pointed criticism and critical thinking are welcome. Comments can only be submitted by registered users. By posting comments on our site, you are agreeing to the following terms:

Commentary and photos submitted to the Missoulian (Missoulian.com) may be published or distributed in print, electronically or other forms. Opinions expressed in Missoulian.com's comments reflect the opinions of the author, and are not necessarily the opinions of the Missoulian or its parent company. See the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy for more information.

Our guidelines prohibit the solicitation of products or services, the impersonation of another site user, threatening or harassing postings and the use of vulgar, abusive, obscene or sexually oriented language, defamatory or illegal material. You may not post content that degrades others on the basis of gender, race, class, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, disability or other classification. It's fine to criticize ideas, but ad hominem attacks on other site users are prohibited. Users who violate those standards may lose their privileges on missoulian.com.

You may not post copyrighted material from another publication. (Link to it instead, using a headline or very brief excerpt.)

No short policy such as this can spell out all possible instances of material or behavior that we might deem to be a violation of our publishing standards, and we reserve the right to remove any material posted to the site.

Add Comment
You must Login to comment.

Click here to get an account it's free and quick

Search our events calendar