ICYMI: Bullock Campaigning on the Taxpayers’ Dime
The Billings Gazette exposed Governor Bullock for campaigning on the taxpayers’ dime, using the State plane to attend fundraisers for his re-election campaign.
Bullock justifies these taxpayer funded trips as attending to official state business but in reality the main priority is to raise money for his campaign– and he’s doing so at a cost of $1,650/hour.
It’s astonishing to think that Bullock’s charging Montanans at a rate of $1,650/hour to fly on the State plane when he could be making the drive from Helena to Butte, Bozeman, and Missoula, and having his campaign pick up the tab– not the Montana taxpayers.
Bullock should also stop stonewalling media reporters who have requested information on his taxpayer funded campaign flights. Bullock behaves as if he’s above the law but it is illegal to use a taxpayer funded plane for campaign purposes, and he should immediately reimburse Montanans and halt his illegal campaign activity.
P.S. – Montanans deserve to know if Governor Bullock’s flying to Big Sky this weekend on the taxpayers’ dime for his dark money fundraiser with job-killer, anti-coal crusader WA Governor Inslee.
Billings Gazette: Bullock criticized for piggybacking campaign stops onto official business flights
Campaigning on the Taxpayers’ Dime
Montana Gov. Steve Bullock is being criticized for piggybacking campaign events onto government business trips in his state airplane.
At issue are a handful of campaign fundraisers branded as “Women for Bullock” events that capped business flights to Montana communities during the past month.
Criticism of the flights surfaced on social media after it was mentioned in a Feb. 10 Associated Press report that Bullock, a Democrat, was unavailable for comment because he was in Billings making peanut butter sandwiches for the homeless and attending a campaign fundraiser. Bullock had flown to Billings for those events, plus a TV interview and a meeting with a union official. Similar business trips capped by campaign fundraisers also took place in Bozeman and Missoula.
Bullock Won’t Make the 115 Mile Drive to Missoula
On Wednesday, the criticism bubbled up on The Missoulian opinion page, where Rep. Brad Tschida, R-Missoula, accused Bullock of “holding campaign events at taxpayer expense.” Tschida said the cost of the Missoula trip was roughly $1,000. By car, Helena and Missoula are about 115 miles apart.
State Plane Cost $1,650/Hour
Rep. Ryan Osmundson, chairman of the subcommittee, said his interest was piqued by Bullock’s use of the plane to fly from Helena to Butte. The two communities are 67 miles apart by car. The governor’s plane costs about $1,650 an hour to operate, Osmundson said.
Bullock Stonewalls Media
On Feb. 17, The Gazette filed requests under the state’s public information laws concerning Bullock’s Feb. 10 flight to Billings. The request was for all written and recorded conversations between Gov. Bullock and/or his staff with representatives of School District 2 and the Billings Golden K Kiwanis regarding the governor’s Feb. 10, 2016, appearance at Riverside School in Billings. The public documents request was a first step in attempting to determine whether the official trip was planned before the campaign fundraiser.
The Gazette also requested information about who was on the plane for the Feb. 10 flight. The Gazette also requested information about the governor’s Feb. 16 trip to Missoula. Also, The Gazette requested the governor’s schedule, which is not available to the public without a request.
Those requests have not yet been fulfilled.