HELENA — The Montana Democratic Party gave attorney general candidate Pam Bucy $35,000 after a federal judge struck down state donation limits as unconstitutional, but she returned it Tuesday after a federal appeals court reinstated the limits.
Ted Dick, executive director of the Democratic Party, said the party had given Bucy the money after the Oct. 3 ruling by U.S. District Judge Charles Lovell that struck down state donation limits. Dick said she returned the money this week after the appeals court decision.
Bucy’s Republican opponent, Tim Fox, received a similar $32,000 donation from the state GOP and has decided to keep it.
And Republican governor candidate Rick Hill got a $500,000 donation from the state Republican Party during the same period and also is keeping it. On Thursday, his Democratic opponent, Attorney General Steve Bullock, asked a state District Court to order Hill to return the money as an illegal donation.
State law allows political parties to donate up to $22,600 to a political candidate.
In response, Bucy’s campaign issued a statement about her acceptance of the money and then her decision to return it, while criticizing Fox for keeping it.
“With nearly a million dollars in Washington, D.C., corporate attack ads flooding the state on behalf of Mr. Fox, the Democratic Party offered us this assistance,” said Bucy’s spokesman, Mike Wessler. “Upon learning that the 9th Circuit had re-established contribution limits through the election, in order to be in compliance with both the letter and spirit of the law, we chose to return the contribution to the party.”
Wessler called it “disappointing” that Fox is refusing to join Bucy in returning the money.
In response, Fox’s campaign spokesman Tyler Matthews, said Fox “has no interest in participating in these types of desperate political stunts. Tim's campaign will continue to follow the law and keep his focus on talking to Montanans about helping folks get back to work by creating jobs.”
If Bucy wants to return the money, he said, she should reimburse taxpayers for campaigning “on their dime.” Bucy, an attorney for the state Department of Labor and Industry, denied Republican allegations that she abused state sick-leave policies.