The Commisisoner of Political Practices (CoPP) is a political weapon used by the governor to attack his political opponents. With Governor Bullock, and Schweitzer before him, the CoPP has been used almost exclusively against Republicans. But something strange is happening just prior to the November 3 elections. The CoPP is dinging Lt. Governor Mike Cooney (D) for campaign law violations. It would appear that the CoPP is well-aware that there will be Republican in the governor’s office come January and are trying to prove their neutrality (it’s no secret that Republicans will try to gut the office altogether in the upcoming session).
According to the CoPP, Cooney accepted donations from the Democratic Governor’s Association that were over the contribution limit.
The current limit for donations to gubernatorial campaigns from PACs is $710 per contested election.
Commissioner Jeff Mangan also found that the DGA created a website that opposed Greg Gianforte, Cooney’s Republican opponent, and did not report the costs of creating the website as an in-kind donation to Cooney’s campaign. Cooney’s campaign did not report the in-kind donation.
Furthermore, Mangan found Cooney guilty of PAC coordination, as he ran ads under the title, “GregGianforTAX” ads at the same time.
Lewis & Clark prosecutors are refusing to prosecute these campaign violations, so Mangan will be negotiating a settlement with the Cooney Campaign.