BREAKING: As Auditor, Matt Rosendale Dropped Charges Against Top Campaign Donors

Brooke BainumNews

“It looks like [Rosendale] is making the decision in exchange for the campaign contributions.”

Helena – The Montana Free Press reported today that as state auditor, Matt Rosendale dismissed fines and most sanctions against a bail bond company, after the company’s family members and employees donated nearly $13,000 to Rosendale’s campaigns.

Rosendale met with Friedel LLC reps shortly after taking office. Later in 2017, the day after Rosendale met again with Friedel representatives, Rosendale dismissed two of three charges against Friedel LLC and dropped all fines.

A seasoned government ethics watchdog said it was noteworthy that Rosendale “set up the meeting with a major campaign contributor just days after taking office…” and that “it looks like [Rosendale] is making the decision in exchange for the campaign contributions.”

Friedel’s donors, who gave the maximum individual contribution limit to Rosendale’s 2016 state auditor campaign, also gave $10,000 in 2016 in “debt retirement” donations to  Rosendale’s failed 2014 primary campaign.

This is just the latest in ethically questionable behavior and shady campaign finance schemes from Rosendale, who earlier this year was caught cooking the books using “a legal form of money laundering” and potentially illegally coordinating with a dark money group.

Montana Free Press: State Auditor drops fines against top campaign donor
By John Adams
September 25, 2018

Key points:

  • “Family members and employees of a Billings-based bail bond company facing fines and sanctions by the Montana Commissioner of Securities and Insurance gave nearly $13,000 to Republican State Auditor Matt Rosendale’s political campaigns in 2016.”
  • “One day after a 2017 face-to-face meeting with company representatives, Rosendale dropped the fines and dismissed two of the three allegations against Friedell LLC. The company paid no penalty under the terms of the agreement.”
  • Rosendale “has thus far declined to comment, despite repeated Montana Free Press inquiries.”
  • “All of the contributions were made in the summer and fall of 2016 while the State Auditor’s Office was engaged in a longstanding legal action against the bail bond company.”
  • “‘People who want something from government give campaign contributions hoping they’ll get a favorable decision.’”
  • “‘The problem is, it looks like he is making the decision in exchange for the campaign contributions. He will deny that he did, but the appearance is terrible,’ Stern said. ‘The appearance is that he made the decision to drop the lawsuit because these people gave his campaign a bunch of money.’”
  • Of the Friedel donors, “[n]one had contributed to Rosendale before, nor had they contributed to any other Montana candidate for statewide office. Each gave the maximum amount allowed by law.”
  • Edwin Bender, executive director of the National Institute on Money in State Politics “said political candidates, especially candidates seeking positions with regulatory oversight, have an extra burden of responsibility to separate their campaign and donor activities from their policy decisions.”

Read the entire story HERE.



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