GOP alleges Bullock campaign violated election laws; Bullock spokesman denies claims
By Phil Drake On March 14, 2012
HELENA – The head of the Montana Republican Party said he has been notified by the acting state adjutant general that he is looking into allegations raised by the GOP that Steve Bullock, a Democratic gubernatorial candidate, used on-duty National Guard personnel for a campaign video.
It’s an accusation that a spokesman for Bullock denies.
Bowen Greenwood, executive director of the Montana GOP, said soldiers at the state headquarters of the Montana National Guard assembled for a drill on March 3, but were then told to hear a speech from then-Brig. Gen. John Walsh, who has since resigned to run as lieutenant governor with Bullock, who is now state attorney general.
“We have reason to believe the camera used for the Saturday formation photograph is owned by the National Guard public affairs office,” Greewood stated in an article posted on the state GOP website.
He said a uniformed photographer followed Walsh as he shook hands with soldiers. Photos from the event appear in a partisan campaign video with Bullock, Greenwood said. He believes the camera is owned by the guard’s public affairs office.
Greenwood said, if true, the use of military personnel, time, equipment and property for a campaign event is a violation of Montana law.
“It’s completely untrue,” said Kevin O’Brien, spokesman for the Bullock campaign. He said the campaign hired a free-lance photographer for the event. He said the photographer was not a member of the National Guard nore were they in uniform.
“They are throwing mud,” O’Brien said. “The whole idea of their press release and complaint is nothing more than throwing mud at the wall to see what sticks.”
Gov. Brian Schweitzer appointed Brig. Gen. Joel D. Cusker as acting state adjutant general to head the Department of Military Affairs.
Greenwood told Montana Watchdog the GOP filed a freedom of information request with the Department of Military Affairs asking when the photo was taken, where and by whom. He said Cusker has responded that the request was received, but did not give a deadline for an answer. (To read the request, click here)
He said the next course of action, if any, by the GOP will depend on Cusker’s response.
“When I, as a taxpayer pay my taxes to government, I don’t like to think that money is going to elect Democrats,” he said, adding he was sure other side of the aisle would not want their taxes used to elect Republicans. He said tax dollars should be used for the administration of what government does, “not for winning elections.”
O’Brien said he believed Cusker would be “perplexed” by the GOP’s letter as everything was done properly.
This is the second in recent complaints filed by the GOP over use of government resources in campaigns.
On March 1, the state political practices deputy commissioner dismissed a complaint against Schweitzer in which the Montana Republican Party charged he violated campaign laws when he used state resources to make public service announcements in 2008 while he was a candidate for reelection.
James H. Goetz, deputy commissioner, wrote in a 34-page decision, that there was “no proof that the governor used state funds to purchase the public service announcements.”
I do not understand this. I have a number of cases here in Montana that it did not matter that they did not have the proof, county attorneys and judges convicted anyway. But now when the AG is accused or when the Governor is accused it is a different matter all together! I am not stating whether they did and they are lying or that they did not and that is the end of that. What I am questioning, why is the average working man charged, arrested, convicted and sentenced based on hearsay and no evidence but the elite that WE ELECT into office seem to behave and are treated as they are “above the law?” Montana, are you as tired of this as I am? We have to do something about it, NOW!! me4justice