GOP official says Quist, backers broke campaign reporting laws - KXLH.com | Helena, Montana

GOP official says Quist, backers broke campaign reporting laws

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Democratic U.S. House candidate Rob Quist Democratic U.S. House candidate Rob Quist

A Republican Party official has filed a complaint alleging Democratic U.S. House candidate Rob Quist and a group of his backers violated campaign-reporting laws, stemming from a newspaper insert distributed on Sunday.

The complaint filed Tuesday by Joe Dooling, chair of the Lewis and Clark County Republican Central Committee, said the pro-Quist insert prepared by a group of Montana writers wasn’t properly reported as a campaign expenditure and could be an illegal contribution to the Quist campaign.

“This is a blatant, deliberate violation of election laws and a stab in the back to transparency,” Dooling said in a statement. “The entire Quist campaign has been one of desperation and deception.”

Quist campaign spokeswoman Tina Olechowski on Wednesday called the complaint “a petty distraction.”

She noted that the complaint comes just as the Congressional Budget Office has determined that a GOP-sponsored health care bill would drop 23 million Americans from health coverage.

Quist and Republican Greg Gianforte have been dueling over the health-care bill in the final days of the campaign, with Quist slamming the bill and accusing Gianforte of supporting it.

Gianforte has said he wouldn’t have voted for it.

Quist, Gianforte and Libertarian Mark Wicks are competing for Montana’s lone, vacant U.S. House seat in a special election, which is Thursday.

Dooling’s complaint focuses on a 24-page insert that appeared Sunday in three Montana newspapers, with a combined circulation of 35,000 readers.

A group of pro-environmental writers said it raised nearly $10,000 to pay for the insert, which endorsed Quist.

The complaint says the group did not register with the FEC as a committee or properly report its spending. It also says if the group is independent, it illegally coordinated the spending with the Quist campaign, by consulting with Quist on where to distribute the insert.

The complaint also says if the group is not independent, it has made an illegal contribution to the Quist campaign, in excess of the allowed limit for political action committees.

About Mike Dennison

MTN Chief Political Reporter Mike Dennison joined MTN News in August 2015 after a 23-year career as a newspaper reporter covering Montana politics and state government. While some may believe that politics are boring, Mike firmly believes that's not the case if you tell the story with pizzazz and let people know why the story is important.
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