Kathleen Williams Paying Herself from Campaign Funds, Breaking Campaign Law


While Montana Republicans often receive criticism for having been successful in the private sector before running for office (Steve Daines, Greg Gianforte, Matt Rosendale, and Troy Downing all earned their fortunes in business, for example), there’s at least one good reason it’s in the public’s interest to have personally successful people run for office; they don’t have to use campaign funds to pay themselves a salary.

In a way that has been characterized as “shady” and “curious,” Montana’s Democrat U.S. House of Representatives candidate, Kathleen Williams, has been paying herself a salary from donations made to her campaign. Williams has pledged, however, that “every dollar donated goes right back to the campaign.” In recent research conducted into her campaign spending, however, Williams’ pledged has proven to be downright untrue. On a regular, bi-monthly basis, Williams has been writing herself a check to run for office.

Williams’ experience in the private sector is meager. An avid environmentalist and “greenie,” the candidate has worked in one way or another, for years, for the government in various positions on the public payroll. She began her career working for the U.S. Forest Service before moving to Montana in 1995 to lead the Environmental Quality Council (EQC) for the Montana legislature. She then went on to serve as a staff member for the Montana House of Representatives Committee on Natural Resources, then went on to work on the public payroll for the Montana Department of Fish Wildlife and Parks. After serving there, Williams went on to work for an environmental extremist organization, paid for by public and private grants. Since 2010, Williams has served in elected office.

Apparently, none of the public tax dollars Williams has used to finance her lifestyle has proven enough to pay the bills during her campaign, because it’s now been discovered that she is writing herself checks in the amount ranging from $1,212.25 to $1,681.05, paid on the 5th and 20th of each month from April to June. New reporting is not yet available to see if Williams is continuing to pay herself, but thus far she has allocated $7,732.40 to herself for the job of running for office.

Spectator Magazine provided the information in a recent article highlighting the possible malfeasance (see below).

Although Federal Election Commission rules allow a candidate to pay themselves, should they have no other source of income to pay their electric bill than campaign donations, they do not permit candidates to write themselves checks before their candidacy filing, which apparently Williams was doing.

The Spectator reports, “FEC rules permit a candidate to pay herself a salary. But even before this, it seems Williams was using donors’ checks for personal purposes before the filing deadline for this 2020 race. By jumping the gun, it appears Williams violated federal rules. As the FEC states: ‘The first payment of salary shall be made no sooner than the filing deadline for access to the primary election ballot in the state in which the candidate is running for office.’ Montana’s Secretary of State designated March 9, 2020 as this year’s ‘deadline for candidates to file for office.’”

Additional payments, from those listed above, were being made before Williams could legally take the money (see below).

These payments, entitled “mileage reimbursement,” “salary,” and “expenses” total $29,152.23.

Additionally, Williams was paying herself from campaign funds after she lost to Greg Gianforte in the last election.

The Spectator again reports, “Even earlier, Williams took a paycheck, backed by campaign-donor funds, after Greg Gianforte defeated her in their 2018 run for the same statewide US House seat. This, too, seems verboten. According to the FEC, such payments must stop after Election Day — in this instance, November 6, 2018. These expenditures only are permitted ‘until the date of the general election or general election runoff.’”


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