Helena, Mont. — Montana Democratic Party Executive Director Monica Lindeen released the following statement after current Secretary of State Corey Stapleton today announced he will drop his attempt at the governor’s office and instead run for Montana’s at-large congressional seat:
“In just the few months Stapleton has been vying for the governor’s office, he’s been fined for misusing state resources to campaign for his next race and wasted taxpayer dollars on an illegal veto override,” Lindeen said. “Even a Montana judge said Corey Stapleton isn’t doing his job. Stapleton’s disregard for the laws of our state and neglect of the job he’s supposed to be doing show he is unfit for his current office as well as any other.”
Earlier this month, a district judge ruled that Stapleton misinterpreted Montana state lawin trying to invalidate a veto from Gov. Steve Bullock. During the hearing, District Judge Mike McMahon said of Stapleton, “It seems to me the only person not doing his job is the Secretary of State.” Yesterday, an op-ed from the Bozeman Chronicle said“Montana Secretary of State Corey Stapleton is again misusing his office in an attempt to gain political advantage.”
In February, the independent, nonpartisan Commissioner of Political Practices fined Stapleton $4,000 for misusing his elected office for his next campaign after the Montana Democratic Party filed a complaint against Stapleton for misusing state resources to announce his campaign for governor. At the time of his announcement, Stapleton said he did not have concerns with using state resources to launch his campaign.
In the two years Stapleton has been in the secretary of state’s office, he’s faced further questions about his conduct in office. Last fall, Stapleton awarded a $265,000 contract to his political ally Jake Eaton after Stapleton’s office mailed an error-riddled voter guide to Montana voters across the state.
Last year, instead of retaining a lawyer through the Montana Department of Justice, Stapleton hired Eaton’s wife, Emily Smith, to represent the state of Montana during a failed legal challenge.
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