Montana Democratic Lt. Governor and gubernatorial candidate Mike Cooney finds himself in hot water, as new reporting concluded that Cooney used state resources to benefit his campaign.
In a breaking report from KRTV, Cooney admits to using his taxpayer-funded Capitol office to participate in a campaign strategy call with the Democratic Governors Association in April – in the midst of Montana’s fight to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. The report characterizes Cooney’s actions as a potential “violation of state law”:
State ethics law says public officeholders are prohibited from using “public time, facilities, equipment, supplies, personnel or funds” to solicit support or opposition to any candidate.
Cooney’s campaign attempted to spin the violation as an “isolated incident” but an examination of his record shows a history of behavior that has raised similar ethics questions. In 2002, Cooney – who has been in office for more than four decades – was accused of using state government equipment for his political campaigns, after a campaign news release from his failed 2000 gubernatorial bid and lists of campaign donors dating back two decades were found within the state’s official computer system.
“One would think a career politician who has been in office since before the Internet was invented would be familiar with state ethics laws, but it’s clear Mike Cooney doesn’t believe the rules should apply to him,” said RGA Communications Director Amelia Chassé Alcivar. “If Montana taxpayers can’t trust Mike Cooney to follow the law and quit campaigning on their dime, how can they trust him to lead the state?”
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