MTGOP Chairman Asks Montana Supreme Court to Enforce Campaign Laws

On September 7, 2016, Posted by , In Chairman Statements,News, With No Comments

Helena, MT – Chairman of the Montana Republican Party Jeff Essmann today requested the Montana Supreme Court to direct Secretary of State Linda McCulloch and Commissioner of Political Practices Jonathan Motl to perform their duties as required by law and remove Roger Roots, a Libertarian party candidate for the position of Montana Secretary of State, from Montana’s 2016 general election ballot after he failed to file his business disclosure report and properly file campaign finance reports as required by law.

The Supreme Court needs to uphold the integrity of the vote and Montana’s campaign finance laws, and enforce the law if these two officials will not,” said Chairman Jeff Essmann. “Whatever the reason for their failure to comply with the law and ensure that all the business disclosure forms and campaign finance reports were properly filed, the Secretary of State and the Commissioner of Political Practices have permitted a name to appear on the ballot when the law was not followed.

Roger Roots failed to file his business disclosure report and failed to timely file his campaign finance reports as required by the Commissioner of Political Practices (COPP). On the matter of his business disclosure report, Montana law 13-37-126 (1) states: The name of a candidate may not appear on the official ballot for an election if the candidate or a treasurer for a candidate fails to file any statement or report as required by 2-2-106 or this chapter. Regarding his campaign finance reports, Roger Roots was contacted multiple times by the COPP to correct this issue but still failed to file timely reports. Despite being in violation of the law, both the Commissioner of Political Practices and the Secretary of State’s office approved Roger Roots for inclusion on the ballot.

While Commissioner Motl says the COPP received Roger Roots’ filed business disclosure form in March 2016, it has been unable to publicly produce this document. Instead, COPP admits they solicited, received, and posted Roger Roots’ business disclosure form dated September 6, 2016. However, this is past the March 2016 statutory deadline to qualify for the ballot.

On September 1, 2016, the General Counsel for the Montana Republican Party notified Secretary of State Linda McCulloch in writing that Roger Roots was unlawfully certified for the 2016 ballot and asked McCulloch to notify all county election administrators of this violation and to order them to desist in their efforts in preparing and printing ballots. McCulloch has not responded to Essmann’s request since the letter was submitted.

Essmann asks the Supreme Court to take both immediate injunctive action by issuing a temporary restraining order (TRO) and by ordering Linda McCulloch and Jonathan Motl to perform their duties mandated by law.  Lastly, Essmann requests the case be given the highest urgency, with local election administrators set to print ballots in the coming days and weeks and with overseas military ballots required to be sent out no later than September 23, 2016.

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