BOZEMAN – Republican U.S. Senate candidate Troy Downing, charged multiple times for allegedly buying Montana resident hunting-and-fishing licenses when he was a non-resident, is going to trial – two weeks before his contested primary election.
At a hearing Wednesday in Bozeman, Justice of the Peace Bryan Adams scheduled Downing’s trial for three days, from May 23-25.
Downing, a businessman from Big Sky, is one of four Republicans running for the party’s nomination to challenge Democratic U.S. Sen. Jon Tester this fall. The primary election is June 5.
Downing’s attorney, Christopher Williams, asked for a jury pool of 30 people for the Justice Court trial.
The state Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks has cited Downing seven times for buying or applying to buy a resident hunting-and-fishing license when he wasn’t a Montana resident, from 2011-2016.
He’s also been cited for illegally transferring a license to someone else who’d killed a bull elk in 2011 and helping his son, Dylan, a non-resident, obtain a resident license in 2015.
Downing’s campaign has said the charges are untrue and that his home in Big Sky has been his primary residence since 2009.
State law says a person must live in Montana for six months before buying a resident hunting or fishing license, register a vehicle here and pay state income taxes.
While Downing calls Big Sky his primary residence, he’s originally from California, and has multiple property holdings there.
Downing has poured $650,000 of his own money into the campaign. The other Republicans in the face so far are state Auditor Matt Rosendale, state Sen. Al Olszewski of Kalispell and former state District Judge Russell Fagg of Billings.