GREAT FALLS – A Cascade County Sheriff candidate has filed a campaign complaint against Sheriff Bob Edwards, who is running for re-election.
A representative with the Jesse Slaughter campaign filed the complaint on Thursday morning.
The complaint states that the “Retain Sheriff Bob Edwards” campaign did not advise Slaughter of any negative campaign ads.
The complaint says that Edwards’ campaign violated a Montana law regarding the “fair notice” period, which states that a campaign: must provide any advertising to all opponents in the 10 days before election.
The complaint says an anti-Slaughter ad was posted to Edwards’ Facebook page about four weeks ago and another was posted this week.
Slaughter’s campaign is asking for all videos where Slaughter’s name is mentioned to be removed.
Jeff Mangan, the state Commissioner of Political Practices, says he has asked Edwards to take the relevant material down until Slaughter is properly notified and provided with the text. Once the notification occurs, the material can be distributed and posted.
Regarding the processing of the actual complaint, and deciding if a violation occurred and whether a penalty is needed – Mangan says that will happen next week.
(UPDATE, 6:15 p.m.) Edwards sent the following email at 6:13 p.m. on Thursday: “I was notified today that Cory Reeves filed a complaint against me with the Commissioner of Political Practices regarding several video ads that contained my opponents name and image. An error was made and was quickly remedied. I am now allowed to run the ads.”
MTN is working to verify Edwards’ claim.
Here is the full text of the relevant portion of Montana code:
Fair Notice Period Before Election
13-35-402. Fair notice period before election. (1) A candidate or a political committee shall at the time specified in subsection (3) provide to candidates listed in subsection (2) any final copy of campaign advertising in print media, in printed material, or by broadcast media that is intended for public distribution in the 10 days prior to an election day unless:
(a) identical material was already published or broadcast; or
(b) the material does not identify or mention the opposing candidate.
(2) The material must be provided to all other candidates who have filed for the same office and who are individually identified or mentioned in the advertising, except candidates mentioned in the context of endorsements.
(3) Final copies of material described in subsection (1) must be provided to the candidates listed in subsection (2) at the following times:
(a) at the time the material is published or broadcast or disseminated to the public;
(b) if the material is disseminated by direct mail, on the date of the postmark; or
(c) if the material is prepared and disseminated by hand, on the day the material is first being made available to the general public.
(4) The copy of the material that must be provided to the candidates listed in subsection (2) must be provided by electronic mail, facsimile transmission, or hand delivery, with a copy provided by direct mail if the recipient does not have available either electronic mail or facsimile transmission. If the material is for broadcast media, the copy provided must be a written transcript of the broadcast.
Click here to read the complete complaint (PDF).