A Missoula attorney has agreed to pay a fine and help support a legal course on elections to settle a complaint that he and a political action committee supporting County Attorney Kirsten Pabst during the 2014 election filed finance reports that were either late, incomplete or both.
The settlement, signed earlier this month by Commissioner of Political Practices Jonathan Motl, attorney David Paoli and the PAC Montanans for Veracity, Diversity and Work, brings a close to a campaign finance complaint initially filed in May 2014.
As part of the settlement, Paoli and the PAC will pay a $1,485 fine and help fund a continuing legal education program on the role of attorneys involved in campaigns.
The complaint, written by John Fletcher of Missoula – who served as deputy campaign treasurer for Josh Van de Wetering, Pabst's opponent in the primary election – originally included Pabst herself. Fletcher alleged that Pabst colluded with the PAC, saying that the group and Pabst's office, where at the time she had a private law practice, shared the same address.
Motl’s investigation, completed in July 2014, found that while Pabst had been renting office space from Paoli, there was no evidence that she had any coordination with the PAC. To the contrary, Motl’s office interviewed two ad sales people in Missoula with whom Paoli did business, both of whom said he expressly told them to avoid any contact with Pabst. Motl dismissed Pabst from the complaint.
However, the investigation concluded that the PAC – and Paoli on its behalf – filed several contribution and expenditure reports late and incomplete.
Paoli declined to comment on Tuesday.
This story has been updated to reflect that Paoli declined to comment.