Rep. Frank Garner, R-Kalispell, has filed a complaint against a state right-to-work group for allegedly violating Montana’s campaign finance laws.
The group, Montana Citizens for Right to Work, is mired in controversy over its ties to a national right-to-work group and improper financing of state legislative candidates in the 2010 and 2012 election cycles. Garner said that he was recently contacted by one of its representatives, Al Chan, requesting a meeting, but declined.
In his complaint against Chan and Montana Citizens, filed with the state’s Commissioner of Political Practices, Garner said that an unnamed Flathead County resident informed him that Chan was seeking to recruit candidates to run against him this year.
Garner told the Daily Inter Lake that “their opposition of me is based on my involvement in the ‘dark money’ bill [requiring political groups to disclose their donors and spending] back in the 2015 session, and I feel like this is retribution for that.”
It may also be illegal. Garner’s complaint argues that Chan’s activities amount to a campaign-related “expenditure,” and that neither he nor Montana Citizens documented this outlay as required by law. They may have also violated campaign-finance laws by not filing periodic contribution and expense reports.
The complaint also voiced concern that the group was active in other races. Garner, a leader in the push to pass the 2015 campaign finance bill, said that this was the first complaint he had ever filed, but considered it a step worth taking.
“I think if we don’t stand up to these out-of-town dark money groups that are trying to influence our election, we might as well give them our chair and let them vote for us.”
Reporter Patrick Reilly can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or at 758-4407.