Montana GOP Secretly Paid To Qualify Green Party

The Missoulian reports:

A mystery of the 2020 election was solved Tuesday as it became clear the Montana Republican Party paid for an effort to qualify the Montana Green Party for the ballot this election. Earlier this year paid petitioners appeared in Montana’s larger cities gathering signatures to qualify the Greens to run candidates this cycle, even though the Montana Green Party has made clear it did not do any work to qualify for the ballot this year and had not planned to run any candidates.

In a Tuesday email, Katie Wenetta, a treasurer for a political committee called Montanans for Conservation, told Commissioner of Political Practices Jeff Mangan that the Montana Republican Party contracted with a company called Advanced Micro Targeting to hire the petitioners. The Montana Republican Party made Montanans for Conservation an in-kind contribution totaling $100,000 on Feb. 20, Wenetta wrote, for the signature-gathering efforts.

The Great Falls Tribune reports:

“The Montana GOP is so scared that (U.S. Sen.) Steve Daines and (U.S. Rep.) Greg Gianforte [photo] can’t win a fair election that they’ve resorted to election fraud,” said Sandi Luckey, executive director of the Montana Democratic Party.

Democrats called for Montana Secretary of State Corey Stapleton to remove the Green Party from the ballot.

The state law that requires parties and committees to report their spending on signature gathering efforts includes financial penalties for violators, but not disqualification. Republican party officials released a statement that said the GOP was only supporting ballot access for a minor political party.

The former chair of the Montana GOP is running for the state’s sole US House seat to be vacated due to Rep. Greg Gianforte’s bid for governor.