Former Gubernatorial Candidate Ken Miller Calls for End to COPP
Do you remember the name Ken Miller?
Miller ran for governor in 2012 and was leading in the polls just prior to the Republican primary when he was accused by the Commissioner of Political Practices Jonathan Motl of campaign finance violations, a charge Miller says was fabricated and politically motivated to remove him from the race.
Today, after seven years, Miller is telling his story.
“The accusation from the Commissioner of Political Practices was accepted by many of the media outlets as fact,” said Miller. “We then had a press conference to prove that what they were saying was incorrect and got very little news coverage, so it came across as though we had done a lot of terrible things in our campaign, and of course the election went on.”
Miller said the situation worsened.
“We gave them all of our documentation, and they ultimately took it upon themselves file additional complaints after we proved our innocence on the original charges,” he said “The election went on and we came in basically tied for second in the primary and ultimately the Republicans lost to Steve Bullock.”
Miller said he then hired an attorney to address his grievances with the Office of Political Practices.
“We hired attorney James Brown and we hired auditors to do our books to prove our innocence, but COPP tried to settle for big dollars, over $47,000, and we refused to settle because we were not guilty.”
Miller said his case languished until then Commissioner Motl filed motions in district court which Miller said delayed the case for another three years.
“Ultimately, we asked for a dismissal and they finally filed the notice on June 19th of this year, he said. “I wanted to ask the press to give the dismissal of charges the same amount of treatment that did when these allegations were brought against me. I don’t want to see this happen to any more candidates.”
Miller is now calling for an end to the Office of Political Practices altogether.
“The number one thing that I believe ought to be done is that the office be eliminated entirely,” he said. “No matter what they do, the office will be partisan. To replace it, the Secretary of State, an elected official who is accountable to the voters would handle the paperwork and the filings. That way, if someone has a complaint filed against them, they’ll have the same rights the rest of the world has, to be heard in court.”
Miller said any complaints filed which are now sent to the county attorney but are routinely kicked back to the COPP, should instead be sent directly to the Attorney General who would require the county attorney to deal with the matter.
“That way, I could have dealt directly with the Yellowstone County Attorney and would have been able to make my case and gotten it taken care of.”
Miller said after his seven year fight to clear his name, he has not soured on the political process.
“But, who knows what the future holds?” he said. “If the opportunity presents itself again, I wouldn’t rule it out.”