The Ken Miller campaign has issued a weak response to the campaign violations detailed in a post below. A news release said that the office of the commissioner of political practices
continues to be a political tool attempting to damage a surging Miller for Governor campaign just four days before the primary election … . The continued usage of this COPP office for character assassination furthers shows the desperate need for reform of that office.
The news release goes on to acknowledge a “couple of disputed procedural issues,” which it says have since been changed. It doesn’t point out any inaccuracies in the commissioner’s findings.
Miller was supposed to hold a news conference this morning in Helena, and perhaps he clarified matters there. Several callers to Aaron Flint’s show this morning defended Miller’s integrity, and I hope they are right. He always has impressed me as an honorable man, and I would hate to be proved wrong.
But which would be worse: learning of these violations four days before the primary or four days after? I would rather have the information before I vote. And it’s far from clear to me that, even if the office was being manipulated for political purposes, Miller would be the target. I would think Democrats would welcome a race against a Tea Party favorite.
But for Miller to impugn the commissioner’s integrity without providing evidence of inaccurate findings is to engage in the same behavior he accuses the commissioner of practicing. While some of the commissioner’s findings do seem minor and possibly procedural, others are not so easily dismissed. Those 21 free motel nights are hard to explain away. Miller is no campaign rookie; he had to have known how to handle that sort of contribution.
Besides all that, Miller misspelled the commissioner’s name. Amateurish.
UPDATE: The Miller campaign just issued its full response, and it is, in fact, quite detailed and specific. Some of the allegations, the response says, involved political contributions that were given under one name but reported under another, such as Dick Johnson reported as Richard Johnson. In instances where excessive contributions were reported, the report claims that it followed the commissioner’s instructions in how to shift those contributions, with contributor approval, to the general election fund.
Here’s the response to the free motel rooms allegation:
When the campaign became aware of the contributor’s corporate status, it issued a check for the value of the lodging, based on the discounted rate the Motel routinely offers candidates, according to the owner. The state disputes the fact that motels offer discounted rates to frequent visitors and political candidates, which is unsubstantiated and false.
The report also claims that evidence of expenses was, in fact, provided to the campaign treasurer. Miller also said:
Again, I stand firm on the ground that these allegations are 100% false, and now the people of Montana can see for themselves what a waste of taxpayer money and character mutilation that this was. The nature of the claim is malicious, spiteful and unethical, to its core.
I have to get a paper out and can’t take the time to precisely match the commissioner’s allegations against the Miller campaign’s response. But at least Miller gave a thorough reply.