Montana State Legislator Daniel Zolnikov became a national press sensation after the state passed a privacy bill of his (H.B. 603) which requires warrants before officials can look at cell phone data, but now, others appear to be claiming credit for the bill.

In his campaign for the U.S. Senate, Lieutenant Governor John Walsh's website claims that he worked with Governor Bullock to get the law passed. Below is a transcription from the campaign website as of February 8:

In Montana, we know how important it is to protect our civil liberties and freedoms from the federal government. While it is imperative that we maintain our national security and protect ourselves against acts of terrorism, we cannot do so at the expense of the freedoms that we hold dear, including our right to privacy.


I’m proud to have worked with Governor Bullock on passing a law requiring state and local governments to get warrants before accessing personal cell phone data – becoming the first state in history to prohibit warrantless cell phone tracking.

Zolinkov remembers things differently.

"I will give a lot of Democrats credit for helping. Bryce Bennet's bill was extremely instrumental," Zolnikov said. "It was his idea, after my big privacy bill died. I don't mind that, but this is a political ploy which is what bothers me. Even John Bohlinger, he's trying to do something with privacy that's new and different, and trying to get on the ballot. This is taking credit for taking someone else's legislation, and that's not good in politics."

Zolnikov says Walsh wasn't involved in the process at all.

"I don't believe I've ever spoken to Walsh, and no, he never came out... I never heard one thing from him, one way or another, while the bill was going through the process, even after the bill was signed," Zolnikov said.

The cell phone privacy bill made few headlines as it coasted through congress, but became a landmark piece of legislation after Edward Snowden leaked information on the extensive use of government surveillance.