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Ethics complaint filed against Montana Secretary of State Corey Stapleton

BILLINGS – The Montana Democratic Party has filed an ethics complaint with the Montana Commissioner of Political Practices against Secretary of State Corey Stapleton.

The formal complaint was filed Monday and alleges Stapleton, a Republican, violated state law by using his official position with the state to announce his candidacy for governor.

Montana Democrats say on January 2, Stapleton sent out an official announcement about running for governor from an official state email account. He also used a letterhead containing the official Montana state seal, according to the complaint.

The complaint cites Montana state law that prohibits the use of state facilities to support or oppose a political candidate. Montana Democrats also say the conduct of Stapleton constitutes as a serious breach of public trust.

The complaint is signed by Monica Lindeen, who was recently announced as the executive director for the Montana Democratic Party. Lindeen was elected in 2008 to serve as Montana’s state auditor and served two four-year terms.

Stapleton, 51, is a former state senator and financial adviser from Billings.  He became the first high-profile candidate to enter the race for governor, which will be an open seat in 2020. Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock can’t run for re-election because of term limits.

MTN News has left a message with Stapleton’s office requesting comment.

-Andrea Lutz reporting for MTN News

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