It’s been accepted campaign law since, well, basically forever. A candidate is allowed to finance their own campaign without worrying about exceeding campaign contribution limits. Montana Democrats seem at a perpetual disadvantage in this regard because they don’t nominate successful people in their primary elections. No Democrat statewide candidates have the slightest measure of success in the private sector; Bullock, Williams, Graybill, and Cooney are all career bureaucrats while Daines, Rosendale, Knudsen, and Gianforte all have a track record of success somewhere besides the public payroll. And Democrats are now asking the CoPP to slap Greg Gianforte on the wrist for something never prosecuted before in Montana politics…financing his own campaign.
Democrats just filed a complaint against Gianforte for that which is not illegal. Their complaint with the Commissioner of Political Practices (an office weaponized by Bullock to harass Republican candidates) revolves around Gianforte loaning himself 1.5 million dollars in the primary, and who is now raising cash in the general election. State law limits contributions from individual donors and splits the amount they can give between the primary and general elections. Someone can only give statewide candidates $710 for the primary and $710 for the general election. However, someone can give that entire amount ($1420) after the primary, half of which may be used by the candidate to pay campaign debt incurred during the primary.
Gianforte loaned himself a large sum of money for his primary campaign, and Democrats allege that this allowed him to out-maneuver his opponent in fundraising during the general election, letting donors “double-up” their giving.
If that sounds like a bad argument, it’s because it is a bad argument. Literally every candidate will take their maximum contribution for the primary-plus-general amount during the general election if someone wants to give it. Because Gianforte funded his primary election himself, donors can give more to his general election. There is zero controversy here.
Gianforte campaign manager, Jake Eaton, said, “When campaigns are losing they become desperate and do silly things — that’s exactly what career politician Mike Cooney and the Montana Democratic Party are doing here. It’s a frivolous complaint, and Montana Democrats are trying to distract voters from career politician Mike Cooney’s own ethics troubles and his 44 years of failure in state government.”
Meanwhile, Cooney was recently fined 1k dollars when it became known that he used his public tax-payer funded office to engage in electioneering. Democrats seem to find little problem with someone using public resources to campaign. But when they use their own private resources, Democrats seem out of sorts.