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Bullock Takes Hill to Court Over $500,000 Donation
Bullock argues the Montana Republican Party donation to Rick Hill is illegal
HELENA – Attorney General Steve Bullock asked a court Thursday to force his opponent in the governor's race to return a $500,000 campaign donation received from the Montana Republican Party.

The contribution came after U.S. District Judge Charles Lovell struck down as unconstitutional the state's contribution limits on Oct. 3 — and before the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reinstated the limits through the election. The case is one of many legal challenges from conservative groups seeking to undo many of the state's campaign laws.

Bullock argues the Montana Republican Party donation to Rick Hill is illegal — while Hill has countered that it was legal because it came during the timeframe when a federal judge had ruled the state's contribution limits unconstitutional. The appeals court is reviewing the full case.

Also Thursday, Pam Bucy, the Democratic candidate to replace Bullock as attorney general announced a refund of a $35,000 donation that is also in excess of the state's reinstated campaign contribution limits.

Bucy's opponent, Tim Fox, received a donation during the six-day window of $32,000 from the Montana Republican Party. The Bucy campaign challenged Fox to also return the large donation.

But the Fox campaign rejected a request it called a "political stunt."

The amounts donated are far above the limits set on contributions from political parties. A candidate for governor, for instance, is limited to accepting a maximum of $22,600 from all political party committees. An individual can only donate up to $630 to a gubernatorial candidate

The Montana Republican Party has not disclosed where it received the abnormally large figure of $500,000 from. The party said it attempted, but failed, to gather money to help at least one other statewide candidate.

Bullock's running mate, retired National Guard Brig. Gen. John Walsh, said the large donation equaled 50 percent of all the money Hill had received so far in the campaign. Walsh made the comments as the campaign filed the lawsuit late Thursday asking District Judge Kathy Seeley to intervene.

It asks the judge to rule the large contribution illegal and force its return, arguing such a large amount thrown into the election would cause "irreparable injury" to the state. The lawsuit points out that the commissioner of political practices had advised candidates to abide by the state's limits while the legal wrangling was unfolding.

The Hill campaign did not immediately respond to the lawsuit.

More large donations to other candidates in the state could be uncovered. Campaign finance reports for the period from Sept. 6 until Wednesday for candidates for statewide office aren't due until Monday.
On 10-19-12, Charles Feney commented....
Seems like Sip ‘n’ Dip RIck has a hard time following the rules, be they campaign laws or marital vows. This is the same guy who was a big supporter of the repeal of the Glass / Steagall Act when he was Montana’s congressman, which led to the…
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