HELENA, Mont. – The Office of the Commissioner of Political Practices announced late Friday that Lieutenant Governor Mike Cooney violated Montana campaign finance laws by illegally coordinating with and accepting illegal donations from the Democratic Governors Association, a D.C. special interest group that has invested more than $10 million in support of the Lieutenant Governor’s campaign.
As written in the decision –
The Commissioner finds the Cooney campaign and the DGA coordinated the GregGianforTAX.com website activity. The Commissioner finds the costs related to the GregGianforTAX.com website represents an in-kind contribution from the DGA to the Cooney campaign.
The Commissioner finds sufficient facts exist to support a determination that candidate Cooney failed to report an in-kind contribution from the DGA. The Cooney campaign reported receiving two $710 contributions from the DGA and designated contributions to the General election. Montana law limits a campaign contribution from an independent political committee to $710 to a 2020 Montana gubernatorial candidate per election.
The Commissioner finds sufficient facts exist to support a determination that candidate Cooney accepted an over the limit contribution from the DGA.
The Montana Republican Party issued the following statement in response to the Commissioner’s findings:
“Entrenched career politician Mike Cooney has made a habit of disregarding and violating Montana ethics and election laws in his run for governor,” said Executive Director Spenser Merwin. “When Cooney was supposed to be working for the people of Montana, he was using taxpayer resources to strategize with the out-of-state liberals bankrolling his campaign. Now, Cooney has been exposed for illegally accepting money from and coordinating with that same group. Career politician Mike Cooney’s actions prove that he is beholden to out-of-state liberals, not Montana.”
As a reminder, Cooney received the maximum penalty for violating the state code of ethics this summer by using taxpayer resources for campaign purposes on a conference call with the DGA.
Friday’s decision was made in response to a complaint filed by the Montana Republican Party on August 20, 2020, as well as an additional complaint filed by the nonpartisan watchdog group – Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust – regarding this offense.
You can view the Commissioner’s decision HERE.