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State Sen. Gail Schwartz and a campaign watchdog group are weighing a formal complaint against a 527 political group linked to Secretary of State-elect Scott Gessler, alleging the group failed to properly disclose a mailer deemed the “most tasteless” of this month’s election. Schwartz, a Democrat, said late last week she still hasn’t determined whether to file a formal complaint with current Secretary of State Bernie Buescher’s office regarding the mailers sent out by Western Tradition Partnership (WTP) depicting her as Donald Trump. But she said she will pursue tougher disclosure laws in the next legislative session.
The Montana Commissioner of Political Practices late last week ruled that a Denver-based political nonprofit likely violated Montana campaign finance and disclosure laws and should be hit with a civil penalty action. Western Tradition Partnership (WTP), a 501(c)4 originally registered in Colorado in 2008 by Republican operative Scott Shires, has been active in state, county and city elections in both Montana and Colorado, drawing criticism for last-minute attack mailers like the one aimed at Colorado state Sen. Gail Schwartz, D-Snowmass, earlier this month.
Debra Bonogofsky, a moderate Republican small businesswoman from Billings, Mont., thought she was a “normal person” until she ran for the Montana State Legislature in June. Then she found out through 11th-hour attack ads, fliers and mailings that she was an anti-gun, pro-abortion, union-backing Barack Obama supporter.