Rosendale Helped Revive Formerly Unregulated, “Secretive” Fund Allowing Lobbyists to Pay for His Travel

Brooke BainumNews

Helena – Whether he’s refusing to hold public hearings on health insurance rate proposals, hiding his government emails from the public, or circumventing campaign finance limits in a ploy that “looks a lot like a money-laundering scheme,” East Coast developer and State Frauditor Matt Rosendale is consistent in his lack of transparency with Montanans.

In the legislature, Rosendale voted to revive a law allowing lobbyists to pay for travel for lawmakers like himself through contributions to so-called “constituency accounts.” The bill Rosendale voted for even gave him the highest contribution limit out of all the state legislators.

The original law let legislators accept unlimited donations without any disclosure requirements or spending restrictions. There was widespread, bipartisan opposition to the original law because of its lack of transparency and abuse by lobbyists and lawmakers, but that seemed to not concern Rosendale at all based on his vote to revive the accounts.

That’s why Montana legislators had previously cracked down on the loose law allowing lobbyists to pay for lawmakers’ official travel through the “special accounts.”

But Rosendale helped bring them back, even after multiple cases of abuse and even though they were called a “loophole,” “back door to funnel some money into,” and “ripe for abuse.”

The special accounts Rosendale restored – also called “unregulated slush funds” – meant that it was likely not illegal for “a lobbyist [to] give a lawmaker $50,000, which could be used to buy a new Lexus for official travel,” according to the Commissioner of Political Practices when abuse of these funds was prevalent.

Montanans deserve better than someone like Rosendale who lacks transparency and voted to bring back lobbyist-funded slush fund accounts that benefited himself.

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