Posted: Oct 26, 2012 5:48 PM by MTN News
Updated: Oct 27, 2012 8:17 PM
Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer says the run to replace him could be all for naught unless Republican Rick Hill gives back disputed money received during a brief period of unlimited donations.
Schweitzer, a Democrat, says we may have a "constitutional crisis in the making" if Hill is elected as governor, explaining if Hill is found to be in violation of campaign contribution limits and then elected, it could be a constitutional violation and result in Hill's removal from office.
Schweitzer points out Hill's removal will result in either a special election or the President of the Senate assuming the role of governor.
"I don't think anybody in Montana wants to be in the situation where we get to the first week in January and you have the current governor for the state of Montana trying to hand the reins of government to the next governor not knowing where there is going to be a special election, whether it will be the president of the senate, whose not been determined yet. Nobody wants to put ourselves in that position," he said.
The governor cited a 1940 case involving excessive donations in the Cascade County Sheriff election where the Montana Supreme Court upheld a ruling that removed the incumbent from office.
The Montana Republican Party responded by pointing to Thursday's Commissioner of Political Practices ruling that the Steve Bullock campaign violated finance laws by using more than $15,000 in checks that were not signed by the campaign treasurer.
Also in this case, U.S. District Judge Charles Lovell will not be ruling on a request by the GOP to find Bullock in contempt for filing a lawsuit against Hill. Meanwhile, a hearing on the campaign finance issue is scheduled for Monday.