Bullock campaign fined $3,000 for reporting violations involving state aircraft

Montana Gov. Steve Bullock’s campaign has agreed to pay a $3,000 fine to the Montana Commissioner of Political Practices to resolve a complaint stemming from Bullock’s use of a state aircraft during his 2016 re-election campaign.

A three-page settlement document posted to the Commissioner of Political Practices’ website late Friday afternoon “finally resolves” the allegations against Bullock’s campaign committee, Friends of Steve Bullock.

Montana Commissioner of Political Practices Jeff Mangan.

In a decision issued in June, Political Practices Commissioner Jeff Mangan found that Bullock’s campaign failed to timely report actual or estimated expenditures for state plane use reimbursement on nine occasions in violation of Montana campaign finance laws that require timely reporting.

Jason Ellsworth, of Hamilton, filed the complaint against the Bullock in the weeks leading up to the Nov. 7, 2016 election. Bullock, a Democrat, won re-election to a second term by defeating Republican challenger Greg Gianforte, who later went on to win Montana’s lone U.S. House seat in a special election held in May.

Earlier this year Mangan said Bullock “correctly subjected his campaign to a reimbursement policy,” but he didn’t do so in a timely manner.

“The failure to fully and timely report and disclose cannot generally be excused by oversight or ignorance,” Mangan wrote in his June decision.

Bullock’s spokeswoman, Ronja Abel, previously called the late reports a “paperwork error” and indicated that the campaign would pay whatever fine Mangan deemed appropriate.

“Gov. Bullock has fought for transparency in government and in elections both as attorney general and as governor. He was happy to correct this error,” Abel said in an email Tuesday.

 Read the settlement document here.