HELENA — Billings business owner Debra Bonogofsky, whose allegations of illegal campaign tactics used against her in 2010 led to a hard-hitting ruling Wednesday against her opponents, said she wasn’t going to let the issue die.
“I was determined at the time that I was going to be vocal and hammer on this as long as I could, until someone finally listened to me,” she said in an interview Wednesday. “I just hope it doesn’t go away. People need to realize there are consequences to (their actions).”
Bonogofsky ran for the Legislature in House District 57 in 2010 and lost in the Republican primary to Dan Kennedy of Laurel by 249 votes.
In the closing days of the campaign, several outside groups sent thousands of mailers to voters in HD57, attacking Bonogofsky and promoting Kennedy.
Bonogofsky alleged the groups and Kennedy broke campaign laws by not properly reporting the spending and illegally coordinating their efforts.
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On Wednesday, state Commissioner of Political Practices Jonathan Motl said evidence supported most of Bonogofsky’s claims, and that the groups and Kennedy should face civil penalties.
Kennedy, who has denied any wrongdoing, could not be reached for comment Wednesday.
Bonogofsky said that after she decided to run in 2010, it became clear that “I wasn’t quite the Republican candidate that (some conservatives) wanted,” and that Kennedy was recruited to run against her in the primary.
She said she wasn’t that worried until she ran into Kennedy while campaigning door-to-door, and he said it wasn’t going to matter that she’d covered the entire district by foot. Bonogofsky said the comment indicated to her that Kennedy knew about the upcoming avalanche of mailers in his favor.
“They didn’t follow the law,” she said of her opponents. “If we all play by the same rules, that’s one thing. But them making up their own rules and following which law they want to follow — to me, that’s not right.”