New Complaint: Lt. Gov. Cooney Used Official Resources for Political Activity

Today, Americans for Public Trust filed a complaint with the Montana Commissioner of Political Practices against Montana Lieutenant Governor Mike Cooney for using his Capitol office for campaign work, a violation of the law and ethics standards for elected officials.

 Currently, Lieutenant Governor Cooney is running for Governor of Montana. News outlets reported that last month, the lieutenant governor had a call with the Democratic Governors Association to discuss campaign strategy in his Capitol office. The Montana Code of Ethics strictly prohibits any sort of campaign activity from taking place in official government buildings. Additionally, his campaign confirmed that this call did take place and attributed it to a busy work schedule. The fact that this call took place during working hours also means the lieutenant governor ran afoul of the prohibition on use of official time, which is also prohibited by law.

This is not an isolated incident. Lieutenant Governor Cooney has had a long career as an elected official in Montana. In 2003, he was the subject of another investigation by the Commissioner of Political Practices for a similar violation. In this instance, campaign documents were stored on official computers during his tenure as Secretary of State. These documents implicated the use of staff time, also prohibited under state law. Despite the acknowledgement that these documents did not belong on official computers, and that it was a potential waste of taxpayer dollars, the Commissioner ultimately did not find him in violation.

Lieutenant Governor Cooney has demonstrated a history of using his elected positions to further his political goals. We are requesting an investigation of this behavior to ensure that public officials act in the best interests of those who have elected them and that taxpayer resources are not wasted.