Helena, Mont. – Current secretary of state and gubernatorial candidate Corey Stapleton lost another battle yesterday over legal issues waged on Montana taxpayers’ dime.
Stapleton lost a case against Gov. Steve Bullock after Stapleton took steps to codify HB 132, an act to clarify the definition of bison, into law. District Judge Mike McMahon ruled that Bullock vetoed the bill and delivered it to the secretary of state’s office according to Montana state law.
“Corey Stapleton’s repeated failure to correctly interpret the laws of our state has already cost Montana taxpayers too much from their hard-earned paychecks,” said Montana Democratic Party Executive Director Monica Lindeen. “As if the past two years of mistakes billed to taxpayers from Stapleton’s office haven’t made it clear enough, the ruling that he again misread Montana state law is further proof he’s not fit to be governor of our state.”
Earlier this year, the Commissioner of Political Practices ordered Stapleton to pay $4,000 in fines for violating ethics laws after the Montana Democratic Party filed a lawsuit against him for using state resources to announce his campaign for governor late last year.
Stapleton’s actions during his first two years as secretary of state have raised additional legal and ethical questions, including his decision last fall to give a $265,000 printing contract to friend and political ally Jake Eaton after the secretary of state’s office mailed a voter guide to Montana voters that was riddled with errors.
Stapleton also hired Eaton’s wife, Emily Smith, to represent Montana during a losing legal challenge last year instead of retaining a lawyer through the Montana Department of Justice.
Additionally, Stapleton made unsubstantiated allegations of voter fraud in the May 2017 special election before eventually admitting no such fraud took place.
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