New Complaint Says Engen Campaign Broke Same Campaign Finance Law as Triepke
Last Friday, October 27, Montana Commissioner of Political Practices Jeff Mangan dismissed a campaign finance complaint against the Engen for Missoula Campaign, which claimed the campaign had failed to report corporate contributions on two counts: one involving Facebook posts by the Missoulian, and another involving an accusation of accepting below market rental space.
Attorney Quentin Rhoades, who filed the original complaint, says he has now sent a second complaint, which he describes as an amendment to the original, based on the Commissioner's findings.
"When the commissioner did his one-day investigation of that original complaint, [Mangan] found that, in fact, the Mayor had not rented an entire office suite for $300 a month, he had rented one-fifth of an office space for $300 a month, and so, consequently, the fair market value was accurate as reported," Rhoades said. "What was inaccurate though, was the reporting."
Now Rhoades is taking issue with the Engen for Missoula campaign for not reporting that they were only renting one-fifth of the space. He says the failure of the Engen for Missoula campaign to report rental expenditures in detail is similar to the violation the Triepke for Missoula campaign was found at fault for by the same Political Practices Commissioner.
"Lisa Triepke is being prosecuted for failing to comply with those disclosure requirements," Rhoades said. "In reviewing that decision, once I realized that the mistake that the Mayor's campaign made was not in accepting space that they didn't pay for, it was they didn't report the size of the space. It turns out that Montana campaign finance law requires you to report the details of what you make expenditures on."
To make his case, Rhoades points to Montana Campaign Finance law, namely Montana Code Annotated § 13-37-225 with an emphasis on section (2) which requires the reporting of certain expenditures including "the purpose of each expenditure" and that the reports of expenditures made "for or on behalf of a candidate or political committee must be itemized and described in sufficient detail to disclose the specific services performed by the entity to which payment or reimbursement was made."
Rhoades says the second complaint was sent on Monday, October 30; COPP says the complaint had not yet been received as of Tuesday morning.