Rick Hill and Tim Fox: Flaunting the Unethical

by jhwygirl

At this point the unethical behavior of GOP gubernatorial candidate Rick Hill and attorney general candidate Tim Fox is pretty astounding. To be clear, I’m not talking about things like Rick Hill’s lobbyist connection to the insurance industry nor Tim Fox’s ethical conflicts with running for an office when his own private work has him profiting off of American Tradition Partnerships, the “Citizen’s United” group which has sued the State of Montana to allow corporate money into our elections and to eliminate maximum limits in campaign donations.

I’m talking about Rick Hill keeping $.5 million bucks and Tim Fox keeping $32,000 in anonymous money laundered through the Montana Republican Party in a donation during a six-day window between court rulings on the American Traditions Partnership v Bullock State of Montana case which has out of state interests suing the state to remove maximum limits to campaign donations.

On October 9th, Attorney General and gubernatorial candidate Steve Bullock won an appeal to the 9th District Court a week after a lower court had removed Montana’s campaign donation limits. It was in that six-day time period where the Montana Republican Party let loose with a $532,000 donation to the two offices that clearly they desperately would like to win in November’s election.

Which should raise concern for any voter.

There’s more unethical murkiness to this – and Charles Johnson details it here: On August 30th, the Montana Republican Party had $64,450 in the bank, but on October 4th – the day after the ruling which opened that six-day window – the Montana Republican Party somehow found $500,000.

Want more unethical murkiness? Executive director Bowen Greenwood won’t say where the money came from either – telling Johnson that it would show up when they made their next campaign finance filing.

Now really? Why not let Montanans know where $500,000 came from? When it has to be reported anyway? Is that the Montana Republican Party’s attitude toward transparency?

Why am I asking these questions when clearly I already know the answer?

The whole darn thing reeks to an astounding level. At a time when objections to money in politics is at an all-time high, Rick Hill and Tim Fox and the Montana Republican Party are essentially part-and-parcel with American Traditions Partnership/Citizen’s United in seeking to dismantle Montana’s long time laws regarding campaign finance.

I won’t get into the whole legal/illegal maneuverings going on between both campaigns – that’s going to play out long after the election is done. It also detracts from some of the very important choices we have, and pulls voters that don’t pay real attention away from resources that might and should be focusing on those other very real issues.

What is fact about Rick Hill and Tim Fox keeping $532,000 in anonymous money given to them during a six-day window between court rulings on a case seeking to dismantle Montana law – emphasis added here since Rick Hill and TIm Fox are seeking state offices – is that they are UNETHICAL.

Lets say that again: UNETHICAL.

And ETHICS, my friend, isn’t necessary about law – ETHICS is about the APPEARANCE of improper behavior.

And Montana, my friend, has laws about that…and I mention that because while I said I wasn’t going to get into the whole legal/illegal maneuverings, I will again add emphasis here in stating that Montana has ethics laws for its elected and appointed officials – and we have Rick Hill and Tim Fox not only seeking to dismantle Montana’s laws and are currently seeking elected offices in the State of Montana.

Either they have no understanding of ethics.

Or they do and they don’t give a damn.

Either way, what Rick Hill and Tim Fox are doing by keeping $532,000 in anonymous money is UNETHICAL.

Neither of them deserves to be elected. Hill and Fox are working to dismantle Montana laws, they’re skirting around court rulings, and they and their party are bathing themselves with anonymous money.

Hill and Fox are UNETHICAL and are flaunting it at Montanans.

  1. On the other side of this two-headed coin you will find more of the same “unethical” behavior. Presenting corruption in a way marginally less offensive to some is somehow preferable? 50% of potential eligible-age participants want no part of this.

  2. I am saying both parties, and the two-party system, is corrupt and unethical. You highlight an extremely egregious example, which takes away nothing from the overall toxicity. Contrast and compare and the best case one can make is that Democrats are marginally less corrupt. An equally valid view suggests Democrats in this instance have more successfully shielded systemic corruption from the public’s gaze. Tactical advantage to Democrats. This is the desired outcome of today’s talking point on “ethics,” isn’t it?

    • Big Johansson

      Both parties. Really?

      Quote: “A report by the Government Accountability Institute (GAI) found that “during calendar year 2012, the Obama campaign received at least $4,580,805.35 from donors who did not submit a ZIP code, or submitted one that does not exist.” The finding suggests the very real possibility that the campaign’s online collection apparatus is allowing foreign donors to make contributions, which is a violation of federal election laws.”

    • Steve W

      Steve K, If you watched the legislature on TV last session the differences between the Republicans and the Democrats were stark, obvious, and unimpeachable. There were no similarities on about 95% of bills introduced.

      I’m voting Jill Stien for President, but I’m also voting for a number of Democrats for local and state offices. And the reason I am is I watched them on TV in action in the legislature and they earned my vote for the most part.

      If you believe that power corrupts, (I do) then any party who wins will ultimately fall short of grace and perfection.

      We could do a lot to perfect and improve our system (like we could demand political pluralism) of government but spreading half truths and cynicism isn’t very effective at bringing about real change IMHO.

      We know the system is rigged against any kind of real pluralism and that we are a bi-polar society. Yet I far prefer the mania of the Democrats over the depression of the Republicans and that goes double on the state level.

      False equivalence is no more helpful than duopoly, IMHO. Humans act like humans and when we leave the door open to exploitation then exploitation we get. So if we can get less exploitation then by all means we should get less.

      Lawrence tells the truth on prime time cable news. Check it out.


      Yes, humans often exploit what they can to prevail, and no party or human is immune to exploiting what they can given the proper circumstances. And yes, we need and want pluralism. But so what? Go watch the legislature videos. It’s pretty clear cut. It’s not hazy or unfathomable. It’s not a dimes worth of difference, it’s more like 350 million dollars worth of difference.

  3. Pogo Possum

    First, jhwyGirl, let me say it is nice to see you back posting again. You seem to be one of the few Bbirders who remembers there are any Montana state elections happening this year.

    I see you are reading out of the Bullock’s campaign strategy book. What is the old legal axiom?
    “When you have the law on your side pound the law, when you have the facts on your side pound the facts, and when you have neither on your side pound the table.” That is what you and the Bullock campaign are doing right now – pounding the table.

    Here is an excellent analysis by the editors of the DailyInterlake:

    A person can certainly think it was wrong of Republican gubernatorial candidate Rick Hill to keep a $500,000 contribution from the Montana Republican Party, but Democratic candidate Steve Bullock’s claim that it was illegal is obviously wrong.

    U.S. District Judge Charles Lovell ruled on Oct. 3 that Montana’s campaign contribution limits are unconstitutional because they are too low to allow effective campaigning in the face of unlimited spending by political action committees. That ruling, based on the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, lifted the limits immediately.

    Six days later, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reinstated the state’s campaign contribution limits until the court had a chance to hear an appeal on the case.
    But in the period between the two rulings, the Montana Republican Party seized the opportunity to make the contribution to Hill’s campaign. At the time it was a legal contribution, and nothing that happened afterwards can make it illegal.

    Arguably, the appellate court could have refused to stay Lovell’s ruling, or the appellate court’s order could have been delayed well beyond six days. But there was no reason for candidates to wait and find out what the law was going to be in the future. At the time the GOP made the contribution to Hill’s campaign, they were both following the law as it existed.
    Upon learning of the contribution on Oct. 17, however, Bullock’s campaign went ballistic, claiming that it was a “criminal violation of Montana law.”

    That’s right, Montana’s top law enforcement officer, Bullock, contended it was a criminal violation. So where’s the attorney general’s prosecution of this supposed crime? It isn’t going to happen, because if a judge throws out a law, you have no obligation to follow it any longer.

    This should be Criminal Law 101, but the Bullock campaign continues to publicly assail Hill for taking an “illegal contribution.” Bullock even filed a civil lawsuit aimed at forcing Hill to return the contribution, and a “Give it Back Rick” campaign was launched.

    Sorry, that isn’t the practice of law — it is politics, plain and simple.

    And while Bullock has mounted a showy legal challenge against Hill, we predict that at the end of the expensive road littered with attorneys’ fees and temporary restraining orders, no court will be able to find Hill guilty of any wrong-doing.
    Again, people surely can think that Hill “should” return the contribution and the situation may indeed even hurt him politically, costing him supporters.

    But Hill’s justification for keeping the money ironically resembles Bullock’s arguments against the $500,000 contribution.

    “I believe Montana’s elections should belong to the people, not to the corporations hiding behind ATP’s cloak,” Bullock said in a press release, referring to the American Tradition Partnership PAC that is suspected of backing the state Republican Party financially.

    At their debate in Kalispell, on the other hand, Hill said the $500,000 contribution will help level the playing field so his campaign can respond to massive PAC advertising against him. That includes wall-to-wall advertising asserting that Hill supports a sales tax, a claim that he constantly and convincingly refutes when he gets the chance.

    It has to be frustrating to be told what your agenda is by your opposition, and then being limited in your ability to communicate your actual agenda to voters. So it is perfectly understandable that Hill took the money.

    Maybe Attorney General Bullock just regrets that his own political agenda made it impossible for him to accept big donations while they were legal, too. But that’s no reason to smear his opponent, and we encourage the attorney general to stop using incendiary language that has no basis in fact.

    • Steve W

      Sales Tax proponent and Republican candidate for governor Rick Hill has accepted more than the allowable aggregate amount under current law, which is why the appeals court ordered Hill and his agents to refrain from spending any of the loop hole gotten cash.

      Did Hill flip flop on the sales tax? What’s his line today? He accepted good money to lobby for a sales tax for Montana. Is he giving the money back he accepted to try to shove that down our throats?

      Whether Hill is indicted and convicted of a criminal offense is a moot question. What isn’t moot is he can’t legally spend the money.

      Sorry Eric, but cheaters never prosper.

      • Steve W

        Oopps, I meant sorry Pogo, but cheaters never prosper. (I sometime forget who is delivering today’s party line. The line is the same, just the names have been changed to protect someone or other.)

    • Thanks Pogo.

      I appreciate your thorough political analysis here of the legal battle, but I take some offense at the suggestion I’m playing into Bullock’s play book and I’ll note that I am focused on the ethics of Hill (no longer Fox) keeping that half a million bucks, along with the party’s laundering of it.

      Hill should not need a court order to give that anonymous money back.

      We are talking about Hill running for Montana’s highest office, taking money from a Washington D.C. beltway funded organization that has been moving in on Montana government to undermine our own state laws.

      I find it discerning that they find Montana a cheap buy and are now here not only undermining our own election laws, they’re buying our candidates.

      Party politics leads us to this dirty nasty place. I’ve been quite confirmed of it now for some time – and the reason why I’ve pretty much not written of this year’s election issues up to this point. I’ll also be honest here and tell you that up until this very issue I wasn’t sure about whether I was even going to vote in this race (and that is mainly because of Bullock’s pro-coal stance.)

      But watching Hill and Fox flailing around in an open mud pit with Karl Rove cash – openly defending it and in contrast to currently challenged Montana law – is a bit too much to take.

      Republicans can go on with their indignation over the filing of the lawsuit and Hill can keep that cash if indeed, the courts do say it’s lawful.

      But it sure ain’t ethical.

  4. lizard19

    I second Pogo’s sentiment, j-girl. good to see you back.

    and Pogo, I think it’s pretty obvious that Democrats in this state are running on a more competent, reasonable record of managing state affairs than Republicans. too many in the Republican lineup are embarrassments, and not worth the effort to write about, IMHO.

  5. Hang on jhwygirl – are you trying to assert riteous indignation on behalf of Steve Bullock ?

    He’s probably just sorry that the Dems aren’t enthusiastic and contributing more to his campaign –

    How about all the money Bullock was going to have to give back from the primary, because he had no opposition, so they set up the wife of one of his supporters as an ‘opponent’ so he could keep the cash –

    Please don’t insult our intelligence –

  6. Steve W

    Eric, the court has made a preliminary decision and determined that Hill has apparently exceeded the aggregate limit of the law. Either Hill respects the rule of law or he doesn’t. I saw that Fox has decide to give his windfall back, and Hill would do well to do the same, IMHO. A fact’s a fact.

    If The Republican Party wants to sue the candidate who ran against Bullock in the primary they better do so before the legal time limit to file expires. Ask Rehberg, he knows a lot about filing loser law suits.

    If all that insults your intelligence then I guess your kind of intelligence is musical and you just hate to face the music. I feel sorry for you, Eric, feeling all insulted and all.

    “The time has come let’s give it back!”

  7. Pete Talbot

    Yes the system is corrupt. Yes, both Democrats and Republicans are taking advantage of SuperPAC expenditures. I suppose Democrats could take no corporate or PAC money, and say no to SuperPAC TV buys, and then sit back and lose all their elections. But that wouldn’t be very smart, would it.

    The difference I see is that at least most Democrats support things like I-166 (urging lawmakers to take corporate influence out of elections), are opposed to the Citizens United ruling and are advancing other campaign finance reform laws.

    The Republicans, for the most part, seem perfectly happy with Citizens United and other, recent laws, that turn elections into auctions.

  8. Steve W


    Interesting meth house bust in Colorado connection to Montana dirty money GOP races and corporate control of democracy.

  9. Pogo Possum

    I thought you would find this recent Lee Newspaper poll interesting:


    “Poll: Rick Hill leads governor’s race within margin of error

    A Lee Newspapers poll this week shows that the Montana governor’s race remains tight, with Republican Rick Hill at 49 percent to Democrat Steve Bullock at 46 percent”



    The Lee poll last month had Hill down 43% to 44%. In the past 30 days Hill is up 6 points compared to Bullock’s 3 point move. Though still barely within the margin of error, it shows Hill is gaining momentum and also shows, again, voters are focusing on important issues such as the state of Montana’s economy instead of negative attacks that misrepresent Hills positions with dishonestly edited video comments.

  1. 1 The Best Reason to Elect Steve Bullock: Krayton Kerns and the Legislature | Intelligent Discontent

    […] brazen attempt to use secretive donations to buy […]

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